Your Mental Health Battles Don’t Diminish Your Christian Faith

When we hear the phrase “I’m emotionally hurting,” do we see it as an admission of weakness in faith? Do we automatically think that a person who confesses this might be neglecting their prayer time, Bible study, or not applying the word of God correctly? As fellow believers, we might hastily assume that our brothers and sisters in Christ who are dealing with mental health issues are simply not trusting God enough. We’re mistaken.

I want to affirm that mental health struggles don’t differentiate between believers and non-believers. The strong in faith, those who immerse themselves in scriptures daily, and those who wholeheartedly trust Jesus, can still be shaken by feelings of numbness, loneliness, or depression. I’ve experienced it firsthand.

What intensified the pain was the guilt and shame heaped on by well-meaning Christians who were ill-informed about the relationship between faith and mental health. Their perception of my emotional struggle as a deficiency in faith was flawed, not my trust in God. I learned this when I understood God’s perspective on healing.

In this post, I’m eager to expose some myths about faith and mental health and share the truths that brought healing, beauty, and meaning to my life.

A few years ago, Google launched a feature that allowed users who searched “depression” or “clinical depression” to take a questionnaire to check if they were clinically depressed. This tool was designed to help users anonymously and without judgment. This step toward mental health awareness highlighted the stark reality that one in five people suffer from depression, even within the most devout and sociable Christian circles.

However, Jesus calls us to be a light for one another and to love each other as He loves us. We must be open to our struggles. Like many, I once found it easier to mask my anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia, praying silently for them to disappear. God, however, wanted me to heal, not hide.

During the happiest time in my life, as a Christian author, deeply in love with my spouse and our two boys, I began experiencing panic attacks and insomnia. It was a surprising blow, and it left me confused. The explanation I received from my therapist was shocking yet comforting. The emotional pain I endured as a child, which I had successfully hidden away, was now surfacing to be healed, not because my faith was insufficient, but because God loved me.

A common but incorrect belief within Christian circles is that if you’re emotionally broken, your faith must be weak or damaged. The truth, however, is that confronting your heart’s hidden pain might be the most potent act of faith God is inviting you to make today.

So, where is the Church’s stand on mental health? Unfortunately, our sanctuaries often echo with oversimplified answers or uncomfortable silence. The Church may seem slow to address realities that culture is quick to expose but remember that we, the regular folks navigating the realities of life, are the Church.

Let me share five myths and truths about mental health and spiritual fitness that I’ve learned on my journey.

  1. Myth: If you worry, you’re sinning because Jesus said, “Do not worry.”Truth: Jesus, in Matthew 6:25, wasn’t issuing a command that makes worry a sin. He was assuring us not to worry about money because God will provide, just as He does for the birds of the air and flowers in the field.
  2. Myth: If you lack peace or joy, you’re not trusting God enough.Truth: Emotional honesty is a profound act of trust in God. Jesus invites the weary to come to Him – not the untroubled.
  3. Myth: Engaging more with God’s word, prayer, praise, etc., will give you peace that surpasses all understanding.Truth: Faith is not forgetting the pain. It provides the courage to face life’s brokenness and heal from past wounds. Our peace lies in taking our troubles to God, not in our ability to solve them.
  4. Myth: The Bible tells us to forget the past and focus on the future.Truth: God remembers the moments that break us. We are invited to revisit our past with Jesus, to heal, and to experience His intimate love.
  5. Myth: You don’t need a therapist, just Jesus and God’s Word.Truth: While it’s true that God’s words give us strength to heal and investigate our emotional wounds, He also uses skilled professionals like therapists to help us process traumatic memories and heal our nervous system.

Your story deserves to be remembered. You deserve to be valued. Don’t be afraid to embark on this intimate journey of healing. You’ll find yourself awed by its transformative beauty.