I find it hard to confess that I was emotionally wounded. Because you might question my faith.
Worse yet, you’d probably accuse me of not trusting God enough or tell me that worry is a sin, so I should just stop worrying.
Because if I told you I had been feeling numb, lonely, or depressed, you might accuse me of not praying enough, reading the Bible enough, or applying it correctly.
So, you might be tempted to think that people who read the Bible every day and trust in Jesus and not drugs certainly shouldn’t be suffering from depression.
Or you might think that people who suffer mental anguish don’t have friends or have suffered physical abuse as a child.
But it isn’t true.
I’m here to say mental health issues happen to everyday people — even to believers who are strong in faith and have friends, because it happened to me.
The bad part was the sense of shame some Christians made me feel about my emotional struggles, but as I discovered how God views healing, I realized it wasn’t my faith that was flawed; it was their views toward mental health and faith.
Today, I’d like to bust some of those myths and share truths that transformed my journey of healing into beauty and meaning.
The Anonymity of Pain
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five people suffer from depression. Think about it. Whether you’re sitting at church or laughing with friends on Friday night, odds are, someone near you is suffering emotional pain, even if they appear happy, sociable, and capable.
So, why do we suffer anonymously? It shouldn’t be this way as people of faith. Jesus calls us to love one another the way He loves us: unconditionally. We are called to be known. But how can we be light to the world, if we can’t be light to each other?
I know it’s easier to hide because I once struggled with anxiety and insomnia. I didn’t want anyone to think I was broken, so I kept quiet and prayed it would go away.
But God wanted to heal me, not shame me.
Out of the blue, during the happiest chapter in my life — being a Christian author and Bible teacher; happily in love and married with two boys; who grew up an optimist in a single-parent family; putting myself through college; loving God, inductive Bible studies, friends, and ministry — I suddenly started having panic attacks and debilitating insomnia. And I didn’t know why.
It turns out because I was now grown up and safe, all the painful things I experienced as a child began to surface. Not because my faith was faulty, but because God loved me and it was time to heal what I overcame in the past.
My post-traumatic stress disorder therapist told me that a soldier doesn’t experience trauma when he’s brave and fighting on the battlefield. A soldier only experiences panic attacks when he’s finally home — when he is safe to face what was too difficult to process at the time.
It’s actually God’s way of protecting us when hurt, fear, or loss is too overwhelming. Our healthy nervous system, designed by God to automatically shield us in the moment, compartmentalizes pain for us, so we can get through hard things — temporarily.
Except I was confused. PTSD from childhood trauma? I never experienced physical abuse and I’d never been to Iraq or Afghanistan. How can I have PTSD?
What my therapist said next stopped me in my tracks: “Did you know emotional abuse has the same impact as physical abuse? You need to heal from Emotional PTSD.”
It’s tough enough combatting the stigma of mental health in a culture that prides itself on entrepreneurship, self-reliance, and curating Instagram-perfect lifestyles. But as a Christian, it was worse. Speaking up about the emotional pain I once survived or was enduring, I ran into a lie often perpetuated in our church culture about mental health and spiritual fitness: If you’re feeling emotionally broken, your faith is weak or broken.
It’s the opposite. Healing parts of your heart — that you’ve once put to the side – may be the most powerful act of faith that God is calling you to make today.
In that spirit, here are top five myths and truths I’ve uncovered in my books, Whispers of Rest and Finding Spiritual Whitespace, about my journey to find rest, practice soul care, and experience the peace and joy that comes from healing.
5 Myths and Truths About Mental Health and Spiritual Fitness
1. MYTH: Jesus commanded us, “Do not worry.” If you worry, you are sinning.
TRUTH: Jesus was encouraging us. There is no need to worry about money.
In Matthew 6:25, Jesus was not issuing a command that makes worry an act of sin when he said, “Therefore, do not worry.” Jesus was giving us the reason why “You cannot serve God and money” in the previous verse. He was giving us encouragement not to worry about money because God will provide for us, like the birds of the air and flowers in the field.
So, be at peace. God understands why you worry. He loves you. He is the God of comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles (2 Corinthians 1:4).
2. MYTH: Trust God and you’ll have peace and joy. If you don’t have peace or joy, then you’re not trusting God enough.
TRUTH: Faith is emotional honesty. Faith is the intimate act of trusting God with your real self, instead of hiding how you feel or trying to do or be more.
Jesus tenderly whispers, Don’t hide.
Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28)
Notice Jesus doesn’t say, “Come to me strong, cheerful, calm, and untroubled.”
It’s the opposite. We’re invited to come to Him weary — whether confused, numb, anxious, angry, or stressed. Jesus tells us to simply come, as we are. Imperfectly His.
3. MYTH: If you read God’s Word more, pray more, praise more, give thanks more, rejoice more, etc. — you will have peace that surpasses all understanding.
TRUTH: Faith is not emotional amnesia. Faith gives us courage to face the brokenness of life and heal from the losses we’ve suffered.
Jesus Himself obeyed, prayed, praised, and gave thanks perfectly. Yet He suffered emotional trauma, overwhelmed by impending physical and emotional abuse, abandonment and betrayal:
My soul is deeply troubled, overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Going a little farther, He fell to the ground… (Mark 14:34-35)
When the Apostle Paul encourages us not to be anxious, but to pray, give thanks, and present our requests (Philippians 4:5-6), he was encouraging us to experience the peace of taking our problems to God, rather than finding peace in our ability to solve them with our own understanding. This wasn’t meant to indict us for experiencing anxiety.
4. MYTH: The Bible says forget the past and focus on what’s ahead.
TRUTH: God remembers the moments that break us. We go back to heal our past with Jesus, to experience His love intimately, and recover all parts of our hearts with Him.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8)
When the Apostle Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” he wasn’t talking about erasing his past. Read Philippians 3. You’ll discover he was referring to forgetting his old way of life as a Pharisee, focusing his worth on how things appeared and his spiritual performance. Paul was now focused on knowing Jesus intimately and sharing in “His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death.”
5. MYTH: You don’t need a therapist. You just need Jesus and God’s Word.
TRUTH: If you look at most instances of healing in Scripture, someone had to step out in faith and take action to go somewhere, see someone, or ask for something.
If you’ve been hurt, you deserve to take care of yourself now that you’re safe to heal with Jesus. God’s Word will give you strength to heal and investigate your emotional wounds.
Just like God uses skilled doctors to help us heal from physical wounds, God uses psychologists to help us heal our nervous system and process memories that once wounded us, so that we’re free to sleep, rest, and access all parts of our heart and our story.
You story is worth remembering. You are worth valuing.
Be curious. Let God love you. Take the intimate journey of healing.
You’ll be amazed by the beauty and be transformed by it.
What helps you experience God’s healing touch in your emotional life? Let’s encourage each other!
By Bonnie Gray, author of the new 40-day devotional detox Whispers of Rest.
– About PTSD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_trauma
– About EMDR Therapy: For me personally, the treatment I found most effective to bring relief is what the State Department of Defense uses to process vets from the battlefield (although I’m not a soldier): http://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/
– To find a Christian therapist, consider: http://www.aacc.net/about-us/
– If you’re in a moment of crisis or emotional distress right now, don’t hesitate to talk. Call 1-800-273 8255. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
photo credit: kelly ishmael
Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Praise! This is a MUCH needed post, especially in the Christian community. I have struggled most of my life with OCD and panic attacks (anxiety disorder) and depression. As a Christian I have heard many well-meaning people say that if I read this scripture or that scripture or prayed more or had more faith I wouldn’t have these difficulties. Not so. I also lived in an emotionally and verbally abusive marriage for 25 years in which I was under a huge amount of stress and the OCD ran rampant. I do believe that anxiety and depression can result both from a chemical imbalance in the brain as well as situational events (and sometimes a combination of the two). I believe God and Jesus speak so much to anxiety and worry in the Bible, not because they command us not to worry, but because they KNOW that we will worry….we’re human. Casting my worries on the Lord does not necessarily mean I will go skippingly about my day. It means that I am yoked with Christ and He will enable me to carry and lift my burdens. Anxiety and depression certainly aren’t character flaws, or signs of a lack of faith, or anything that can be wished or even prayed away. Someone once gave me this analogy…Imagine God as the Coach and the Bible is His playbook. If you are on God’s team you need to be able to get to the field to be with the Coach (God) and to be able to hear the playbook (His Word, the Bible). If you are so sick at home with depression and anxiety, you can’t even get to the playing field to meet with the Coach and be able to digest and hear His instruction for your life. I needed medicine to be able to get out of bed and get to the field. Then, and only then, was I able to really hear God’s word and be able to take it in to the point that it would bring me peace. Counseling was also needed to overcome wounds that had been inflicted . Verbal and emotional abuse is a common cause of PTSD. There should be no shame, no stigma, no judgment. If you’ve never walked in those shoes, you simply do not know. Also having OCD as the “thorn in my flesh” as Paul would describe it, has enabled me to have a level of compassion and care for others that I would NEVER have had otherwise. It is the blessing in my “curse” if you will. God can and does bring beautify from the ashes. Thank you, thank you, Bonnie for this much needed post! The points you make are excellent! God bless you in the beautiful work God is doing in your life. Our coming through past trials with God gives us hope and confidence for the future…..therein lies our peace.
I always enjoy reading your comments! I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m right there with you and have suffered the same. Thank you for your words!
Thank you for your post! I needed to hear your words. I agree with Bev in that I think depression can be chemically induced as well as emotionally. That makes me even more amazed at just how intricately we are woven together by God! There was a time when I was spending hours, like almost all day in the word and I was still suffering from depression. Thank you again!
Thank you Bev! Reading about your experiences and insight comforts me.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I’m glad….I hope my experiences point you to the ultimate Comforter…
Praying for you,
Bonnie Gray says
What amazing story you’re living with Jesus! thanks for sharing, Bev!
Kathy (Foster) Bigley says
You are amazing! Having a friend and myself dealing with depression and anxiety issues and her losing faith in God because of her husband ‘ bible bashing’ has set myself backwards. Or so I thought.
Your message is an encouragement for those of us suffering from emotional abuse. Now that I somewhat understand PTSD I’m willing to allow God to heal me.
As for my friend, I just keep praying for her, her husband and all involved in her life. It all but broke my heart when she told me she doesn’t believe in God any more.
Prayers for Tiny.
Thanks for sharing your story. It truly has blessed me.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
God can and will heal you. Keep clinging to that and then He will use your testimony to bring hope and healing to others (maybe even your friend). I will certainly keep your friend in my prayers. It’s not unusual for people to blame God and turn their back on him. You being in her life and her seeing you find hope and healing only in God may just be what brings her back to Him. Not that you are responsible for her walk, but you keep walking and seeking and crying out to God. Let him lift your head and remind you that you are his beloved and I know your friend will take notice.
Praying for you both,
This was such an important topic. Four years ago my husband was diagnosed with serious mental illness. He has been on medicine ever since. Because of teaching we had that Christians shouldn’t get depressed he probably suffered for years without help. And I blamed myself for his problems. Sadly, our pastor at the time did not want others in our church to know. We needed prayer and encouragement more than ever. Please be kind and sensitive to those around you who experience mental illness.
Michele Morin says
We do so many things right as the Body of Christ — but in our understanding of and compassion for mental health issues, we really need to step up our game.
Thanks, Bonnie, for practical principles and godly motivation in that direction.
Bonnie Gray says
sweet michele, i love how you listen with your heart and share that heart with your words! thank you, friend!
Naomi Fata says
This is sooo needed! Thank you for writing! I will be passing this along to a friend. Mental health issues have been prevalent in my family for several generations. When I found myself struggling I believed each of those myths that you listed and couldn’t understand why if I had Jesus I wasn’t experiencing joy and peace.
And the illustration about not feeling the trauma in battle is so helpful to my understanding of my own emotions and healing process!
Bonnie Gray says
sweet naomi! thank you so much for your beautiful sharing! i love hearing how refreshed your heart feels as the sunshine of God’s loving truth and voice frees *your* voice! I think you’d love my book Whispers of Rest – as a detox for those myths, and soak in loving words of affirmation from Scripture. It’s my personal biggest hits of loving words of affirmation from God that rejuvenated my soul! 🙂
Lyn Price says
Naomi – that is my family history as well. Mental illness runs rampant on my father’s side of the family *and* on both sides of his. My grandmother’s sister spent much of her adult life in a mental institution, I’m thinking somewhere in the 1930’s-1940’s based on my grandmother’s age (now deceased). My grandmother seemed to be such a stoic person but I didn’t know until after her death that she had experienced a “breakdown” when my father was a child and family/friends had to step in for a time to take care of him and the home. Two of my grandfather’s brothers committed suicide and, according to my mother, there is reason to believe one of them was a Christian. Those cousins, etc. in my father’s generation self-medicated with alcohol (my father) or drugs. Finally, in my generation mental illness wasn’t quite as much of a stigma, but there is still a need for educating the public…especially the church.
I began experiencing depressive symptoms in my early 20’s but didn’t understand it. As the episodes became more frequent and of longer duration over the years, combined with anxiety, I sought out a Christian counselor. After a few months he said he’d observed the cycle of mood changes with me and recommended a psychiatrist. I have been on medication for the past 30 years.
How people in the church responded to my illness depended on the type of church. For about 15 years I attended a “mega” charismatic Assembly of God. Prior to seeking the professional counseling I met with a volunteer counselor at the church. Her “diagnosis” was going through deliverance, something with which I was not familiar but I did the required homework preparation and went through that.
15 years ago I attended a mainline denominational church that was Bible-believing and teaching. I went to a Saturday night healing service and asked for God’s healing for the depression. That seemed to surprise the assistant pastor, who was an elderly gentleman. After the service he approached me and said, “I have things in my life that could depress me if I let them. You can choose not to be depressed.” *Sighs* Those of us with depression/anxiety that is caused by a chemical imbalance cannot “choose” to be depressed or not (and who wants to be??? It’s a living hell sometimes) any more than someone with cancer can choose not to have it. By contrast the senior pastor who was a young man would ask how I was doing, sit and just let me talk, and “be there” which is sometimes the most healing.
I currently attend a very small fellowship that is truly like a family. I have shared my situation with our pastor and the elders and have received nothing but encouragement. What caught my attention about your post is that a month ago I asked my pastor if, based on the generations of mental illness in my family, I could be under some kind of “generational curse” mentioned in the Old Testament…not sure which book right now.
God bless you!
This caused the tears to flow but I’ve learned that’s OK. I’m going through an emotional healing journey right now with a skilled Christian caregiver. It’s hard but oh so worth it. Thank you for your courage!
Bonnie Gray says
sweet tracey, what an intimately deep journey you’re uncovering in your heart with Jesus! Yes, YOU are SO worth it!! Every experience opened to the loving touch of God is bringing to life – you!! all parts of beautiful you! thank you for your courage to take that journey to heal and for sharing, friend!
Bonnie!! I’d like your permission to translate it (Spanish) because those myths are saddly deep rooted in church everywhere, my beloved Argentina being not the exception.
It was in great part thanks to this community that I began to heal from my emotional wounds, but it’s been a lonely journey for most of its part.
Thank you for sharing your journey with us!!
Please increase the size and darkness of you devotional fonts,,,
It is a constant struggle to read them,,,thanks,
Kathleen, you can actually do that with the zoom + and – in your browser. I do it when I struggle with reading the print. Sometimes I will even use reading glasses along with the zoom. Hope that helps.
Bonnie Gray says
YES!! That would be AMAZING to translate, Yezy! Do you mind sharing it on Facebook, if you do translate and tag me @thebonniegray? I would love to share it with my readers, because I have Spanish speaking readers! 🙂 And may God bless you for your courage to take take the journey of healing with Jesus – I can only imagine all the beauty and intimate moments of love and comfort He is whispering to your heart! Blessings!
Bonnie, I’ll do it.
(Most probably tomorrow… Today is full day at church)
Bonnie, this was tremendous. I think you have hit on a most important topic for all Christian’s and I thank you. I have gone through some emotional storms in the last couple of years–your words would have helped so much. Thank you–you are a blessing today!
Bonnie Gray says
Thank you so much, sweet Tracy!! And thank you for your courage to share a bit of your heart and story – it is beautiful and an honor to know I can be a friend to you through words and stories – and through our faith – to share the journey together! With my love – dear Jesus, may you bless Tracy in her continuing journey to be your beloved, in whatever she is walking through with you today and this week and in tis season of her life. Touch her heart and reassure her with your words to her. Empower her to be who you created her to be. Your beloved. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Tracy – kindred spirit. Sometimes it seems like we go through storms consistently for several years, with no guidance from above. We know there is a purpose but it is often silent.
I’ve been doing nothing but “learning” the last 3 years with little relief, amplified the last 3-4 weeks (by other Christians not treating with same respect). And yet we go to God in anger and frustration, only to immediately tell ourselves we are just bad believers for questioning.
Danielle Bernock says
YES YES YES!
“Healing parts of your heart — that you’ve once put to the side – may be the most powerful act of faith that God is calling you to make today.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
Yes, there is emotional PTSD. I know first hand! I finally came to understand it through writing my book. I made a declaration in my book emerging from the shame and condemnation of “I shouldn’t feel that way. There are so many who’ve been through worse….”
I discovered after it was published that I was not alone. I found this line quoted by so many. “Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive.”― Danielle Bernock, Emerging with Wings: A True Story of Lies, Pain, and the Love That Heals
Shame lies – we are worthy of love – Jesus said so with his blood!
Thank you for sharing! People need the validation and encouragement to allow their innermost pain to be healed.
Bonnie Gray says
dear Danielle, thank you for sharing from such a personal experience – and thank you for sharing a quote that spoke to you with us in this community! May God touch you with his beauty and presence right where you are!
Bonnie, ((Hug)). Prayers for you, sister. Bless you for your vulnerability–which opens the doors of healing for others. Emotional abuse is the “trauma” of my life as well. Never thought about it in terms of PTSD. Hmm. Interesting. Thank you for your grace with this topic. xoxo
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t tell you how tired I get from being chastised by fellow Christians about why I’m feeling down and out at times. I’ve gotten to the place where I, like you, hide my feelings most of the time because I don’t want to be reamed once again for feeling the way I do. Grant it, I know that I need to working on my issues so that I don’t keep carrying them around, but it’s sometimes hard to concentrate on getting well when all you hear from people who are supposed to be Christian friends and family is how I need to look at what God has done for me and get into His Word more and pray, pray, pray. Well, thank you for the revelation – like I hadn’t thought of that myself. I pray that I can be quite the opposite to others – a healing figure and not one that condemns others for not being cheerful and optimistic 24/7, 365 days a year. I really find it hard to believe that these Christians that want to act like I’m sinning because I’m struggling occasionally with depression and anxiety, are really as optimistic and cheerful as they put on a front to be. As you can tell, this subject hits a sore spot with me but I’m working through it with the help of my Heavenly Father (who knows my heart better than I do) and a good counselor. Thank you again for your encouraging words!!
Bonnie Gray says
Sweet Kim, it’s so wonderful to hear your stories and experience – so freeing to hear your voice. You are so bold and courageous to take the journey of healing. May you feel the hand of your loving Father and the Voice of His loving words to you, as your journey of healing unfolds! How beautiful those intimate moments of confiding in God and also allowing all parts of your heart to open up and come alive!! I’m so excited for all the beauty that is unfodling and being created with you and God in this journey of discovery, friend!! Praise God!
Bonnie I can’t think you enough for bravely sharing and for cutting a trail for those of us who are Christian AND suffer with PTSD. Too many times our community can misjudge or misdirect us (even though often done in Love) in our process of coping and healing. Your words bring hope and encouragement – not just for those who have mental health struggles but to those who know someone with any mental health issue and need a better understanding of how to gently, lovingly help them through Christ and the Holy Word of God. Such insight is helpful in understanding what we go through and how others can be a helpful presence in this journey. Thank you dear sister in Christ!!
PS I just finished “Finding Spiritual Whitespace” last week and began “Whispers of Rest” this week. So powerful, and so helpful in peeling back another layer closer to full redemptive healing!
Amen. So much for writing this post. As a Christian who suffers from anxiety, which I had under control for several years (without medication) but who then had a setback, I greatly appreciate this. I have had people tell me that they had anxiety, prayed, and it got better. Well, I have had anxiety so severe in the past that I was totally housebound. I thank God that it did not get that severe this time but it was rough enough, and I believe it started again because I had been dealing with some severe health challenges and even though I got better physically, the anxiety kicked in. I still am not at the point I was before I started having the challenge again but certain things have gotten easier so I just have to trust God that He will show me when I can step out more in faith.
This is an amazing and beautiful post! I am a Christian mental health therapist and often I am having to help my clients battle through the community and personal stigmas that come along with mental health issues. It saddens me to the depth of my soul that fellow Christians can be so devastating in their words when telling a person struggling that they “just must not be praying hard enough” or “need to be more faithful”. We are supposed to be the very people to shine God’s light and offer support and comfort. Not judge and chastise. This is the very reason I wanted to start my own blog to ensure more Christians were privy to the vast mental health issues to better treat others with love and kindness. Thank you again for your genuineness and courage for sharing. I plan on printing out the post to have on hand for some of my clients to read as well. God Bless!
Bonnie Gray says
sweet melissa! what a beautiful and courageous work you’re doing with your clients – being a trusted confidante to navigate the mysteries of so many stories that Jesus is inviting his beautiful daughters to open up and heal! Special blessings to you today! Yep, you know how devastating these critical and untrue words can be. Words are often where harms has been done and so, words of truth, love and comfort are also where healing comes from. Of course, this is the beautiful expert work you do, sweet kindred – to be that voice of love, support and comfort, and provide the words to invite women and men to experience the peace and joy that comes from coming live and being real. May you find refreshment as you pour out to so many! Thank you for the work of guiding others to heal!
Emily Susanne says
Yes!!!! Thanks so much for this post. It’s so true that when we are weak, then God can be our strength and move in incredible ways. I struggle with anxiety and hair pulling (trichotillomania). One day as I was pulling my hair I kept apologizing, afraid and ashamed of my sin. Then I pictured Jesus right there with me, stroking my hair like a loving father and telling me I was ok, beautiful, and safe. That He wanted to HELP me. And you know what, that has helped me more than condemnation ever has! We are perfectly imperfect, and Jesus loves working in the mess 🙂
J Allen says
Bonne, thank you, thank you!
I am Mom to an adult child that attempted suicide several times. There was so much fear during that time. I simply was afraid my child would die. I was blessed, she took the help offered to her. She went to counseling and took medication. She also allowed her unhealthy marriage to end. She even went on to earn a Master’s Degree in family counseling. But during the darkest of those days, I withdrew from my church. I had people tell me depression was a sin! I had people tell me taking the medication and seeking counseling was a sin! I even had a Pastor tell me there is no such thing as Christian Counseling! Very few people outside of my family knew what was happening, so for my Christian friends to tell me these things only added to the pain. My entire family withdrew from Church. Where we stayed for several years.
Then about four and half years ago, my youngest nephew, attempted suicide. I’m sad to say, my sister, her family, my family and myself handled that in a like manner to years earlier. We kept the pain to ourselves, withdrew and put our heads down. Bearing our pain and shame in secret. Then on November 3, 2014 that same nephew completed suicide. With the gun shot that ended his life our family shattered! There was an unspoken, “ENOUGH’! My sister and brother in law did not skirt the issue in preparing the funeral with the most wonderful pastor friend. Who, by the way, brought an insightful eulogy so full of grace and God’s truth that no one could doubt his authority!
One of his older brothers also spoke at the funeral. Afterward he talked to my sister about publishing his words as a blog post and she said yes! She was so brave and in her brokenness did not have the strength to wake up every morning and keep this secret, so she let it go! As family members we have both walked and spoke at AFSP walks. We have blogged. We have written poetry that was published on social media. We have spoken to both small and large groups in all different public settings. We are taking part in a documentary about suicide. We found our voice!
I share all of this pain to encourage someone else to NOT find their voice after the shattering but before! Be brave, reach out for help and if that help doesn’t feel like help, reach again! God can handle all of your pain and hopelessness!
I am deeply sorry for your loss. My thoughts, and prayers are with you, and your family.
J Allen says
Thank you, J
Bonnie Gray says
Dear J Allen, what an amazing, incredible, heart-breaking and also faith-inspiring post you shared in this comment. Thank you for being vulnerable to share the realities of life and the realities of how God’s love and presence never gives up on us and is powerful enough to free us to live with boldness, kindness and freedom. May God bless you in your continuing journey to express ALL God has brought you through and may you continue to refresh your heart for all you pour out. You are worth refilling, refreshing and revitalizing – for you are precious and cherished. Thank you for giving so authentically here to this community. love, Bonnie
J Allen says
Thank you for your kind comment, J
Sarah Beckman says
well said, well written and so much truth here. Thank you for bravely fighting for those who don’t feel like they have a voice in the church. Your words are so powerful, and come from an authentic place of experience. I have a daughter that struggles with anxiety, and the most important thing we ever did for her was to validate her pain and reality. (and get her a therapist!) This post affirms that, thank you!
Bonnie Gray says
Sweet Sarah, I am SO touched and moved to hear how you opened your heart to validate your daughters pain – I know that is a very vulnerable place to go with your daughter because it meant you had to experience her pain and her reality. dear, dear sweet mom, may you be reassured that your presence is the most powerful healing place in her story, your daughter can return to time and again, a treasure beyond all measure for the rest of her life. You have changed her story. May you take time to refresh yourself continuously, as you are pouring out so much on this journey to walk alongside your daughter. You may enjoy my devotional Whispers of Rest because it is a soul care, soothing book of simple practices that helped refill and refresh me on the journey to experience peace and rest. Remember you are cherished and worth it! Dear Jesus, may you bless Sarah right now with your touch and also reassure her heart with your words of love adn affirmation. I pray that you will continue to bless her daughter and surround this family with some special moments of rest this weekend and may her daughter know how beautiful and beloved she truly is this very moments, just as she is. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Thank you so much for addressing this issue! Like so many others, I too, suffer from anxiety, depression and PTSD that has come from some very traumatic life experiences. I am also an introvert who has struggled with being able to open up too much about what I’m going through so I hide it. God has blessed me with a loving husband who does his best to help but he doesn’t truly understand because he’s never felt it. I see other Christian women go through their lives seemingly so happy, doing great things for God, with many friends and appearing to have it all together. I know their lives can’t be as perfect as they appear but I feel so inadequate compared to them. Added to my insecurities and introversion is the depression and severe anxiety. I have talked to my doctor about it and she wanted to put me on drugs but I kept thinking I should be able to “pray it away” or just dive deeper into His word. I have prayed for healing. I didn’t want to talk to a therapist because what if I got bad advice or one who didn’t really understand if they hadn’t been through it themselves? Many years ago when my children were young and I was suffering from depression, I saw a Christian therapist who told me to just get out of the house more, away from my kids and husband. So I did and before I knew it, I was neglecting my family and enjoying my freedom way too much. It almost destroyed my marriage. Some days I’m fine but other days, all I want to do is cry and I feel like a failure as a Christian, believing that my faith must be lacking if I don’t always feel happy. I agree with Bev that what we suffer from can be situational, chemical or both (I think I have both). It’s such a blessing to be a part of this forum and hear from beautiful, sincere Christian sisters who speak from their hearts and with truth about the things some of us suffer with. I find such help and hope here! Thank you, Bonnie and all of my sisters in Christ who have added their thoughts to this subject! I needed to read your words today and I think it’s time I reach out for some help. I realize I can’t do this alone anymore.
Blessings and hugs,
I pray that you are able to find the help to enjoy the quality of life you deserve.
Bonnie Gray says
Hi Cindy! Wow, it’s so powerful to hear God touch your heart and move you to a place of comfort and reassurance through this blog post. “dear Jesus, I just want to thank you for Cindy and how you are whispering your gentle words of love to her. Thank you that you are touching her heart and giving her courage to consider what a next step might be with you. Reassure her of your delight in her, how proud you are of her, and how very precious she is to you. Inspire her with whatever idea you want to place on her heart to make the choice to heal by taking whatever actions you may spark as inspiration. And comfort her with your loving words of truth. For she is loved, known and accepted by you. In Jesus’ name, amen.” If you are looking for encouragement, you may enjoy my 40 day devotional that is a gentle guide to expereince God’s peace and presence – Whispers of Rest. thank yoou for sharing so authetnically today!
Nancy Ruegg says
Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing the insights you gained while healing from your own emotional PTSD. Truth #3 resonated with me: “Faith is not emotional amnesia. Faith gives us courage to face the brokenness of life and heal from the losses we’ve suffered.” Faith-infused courage allows us to grow away from the hurt and embrace the purpose God fulfilled/is fulfilling through it all–whether we can see it or not. Your story and wisdom, Bonnie, are no doubt guiding many on their journey to healing. Praise God for his blessing on your life!
Bonnie Gray says
Thank you so much, Nancy!! May you have a wonderful day and rest-filled weekend, sparked with unexpected moments of peace and beauty!
Rebecca L Jones says
There may not be a woman alive on the planet who has not experienced this. I have seen first hand what it does to people. I thin we should redefine worry, Jesus didn’t say don’t be concerned or think about something . The sin is not listening to Him and taking care of ourselves. I always tell people to take their medicine, see the doctor, but believe in healing. Jesus us authoritative, not abusive, and He loves women. I also recommend Dr. Michelle Bengston’s book Hope Prevails, she counsels with the Word. PTSD, our battlefield is our hearts and minds, as warrior brides of Christ. We win the battle resting in His love. Thank you Bonnie, always a blessing to read your encouragement. I am writing about angels all month if anyone care to visit my blog. Keep being the beloved ladies and rest. He won our victory.
This is where I am at right now. In a place of safety and rest…God is and has been doing a very deep work in healing specific things that are a part of the most ingrained aspects of who I am. When it first started I was confused and angry because things around me were finally ok! My husband was healed, we were in the midst of a healthy thriving church, and we were happy. Genuinely happy. So to have such a deep healing beginning in me took my breath away and made me feel like the rug was ripped out from under me with all of these emotions coming to the surface that i had stuffed for so long. Immediately I felt shame and tried to stuff it back down, but as well all know, when God says it’s time for something to go…it goes. It took me a little while before I understood what was going on….well, more like before I would listen long enough to God to hear what He was trying to tell me in the midst of my despair about this. Thank you for this Bonnie. It brought tears of relief to my eyes.
Right there with you!! Just graduated with a masters degree, finally felt secure in my new marriage, life is stable and full of rest – and suddenly I was struggling with anxiety and depression. Thankfully I have a husband who nudged me to a counselor before I think I would have been ready to let God do His work. How wonderful to find community even in this. Blessings to you in your journey. We’re not alone.
Thank-you so much for sharing your deeply touching, and inspiring words.
Blessings to all,
Oh be still my soul!! Finally finally someone comes out and stands up for me, stands up for us! Us, those of us who suffer in silence and shame. I grew up in a Christian home, I’ve known Jesus my whole life, yet I still ended up an alcoholic and drug addict because I was self medicating severe anxiety and depression. I am sober now at the age of 38 for 1 year and 4 months after battling for over 14 years the demons of mental health and addiction. I was so afraid to come out of my closet because I feared the rejection of my church. I have also heard the sayings from other Christians that I am not praying hard enough, or that I do not have enough faith, or that I am sinning by worrying or being fearful. I have also been told that counseling is a waste of time and un-Biblical. I know that all of these things are a lie of the Devil but so many others are still living with these lies and believing them so I am SO grateful that you have written this blog. God Bless you!!!!
Bonnie Gray says
Hi Sweet Jessica!! CONGRATULATIONS!! on your sobriety!! You are a courageous and amazing woman of faith – to have the strength and bravery to heal. Thank you for sharing such a gutsy and authentic part of yourself here. We are so blessed and honored as a community to hear your voice and celebrate your story.. and celebrate YOU!!!! There is a lot of bad, uninformed and simplistic myths out there, and I am SO sorry you had to endure the pain of these myths. But, there are many of us who know Jesus and walked with Him through all seasons of life, so be encouraged!! We’re here! lol xo You’re a beautiful light shining for God – JUST AS YOU ARE! You are inspiring SO many people!! Share your voice and your story wherever you go! May you feel as beloved and beautiful as you truly are!!
I think we should not confuse mental illness with worry though they can be related. Jesus, Paul and Peter command us not to worry. But Jesus is gentle and not condemning. Romans 8 says there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. So while it is clear worry is a sin, John MacArthur writes ‘worry is the sin…that christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other’, Jesus desires to gently lead us and not condemn us. That being said mental illness is often chemically related and as is depression at times. You cannot control a chemical imbalance thus often mental illnesses and depression are not a sin. Regardless if you are worrying (a sin) or have a chemical imbalance (not a sin) Jesus offers grace and love. So whatever you suffer from we should show all compassion as we do not know truly what they are suffering from nor do we know their full story. I have suffered from post partum depression which was clearly related to hormones and low thyroid function. On the other hand I am also a worry wart but am not going to deny my worrying is a sin. Healing comes from confessing one’s sins not denying it.
Thank you Bonnie. You are beautiful! Thank you for your courage and transparency
As a pastor’s wife who suffered through depression for 20+ years, I can so relate. I know what guilt and shame I felt for “having failed” as a Christian and the unrealistic expectations and harsh judgmental comments from other Christians pushing me further down. I know now that God has healed me and my honesty and openness theses last few years have opened doors and hearts of those who have also gone through the painful journey. I no longer feel I have to just blame it on a chemical in-balance, but just that it was part of my life and there is hope and grace and mercy from a very loving God.
Thank you, Bonnie, for your transperancy through your story.
There are two things that you have shared that have changed how I view what I have always seen as broken and damaged in me.
“It turns out because I was now grown up and safe, all the painful things I experienced as a child began to surface. Not because my faith was faulty, but because God loved me and it was time to heal what I overcame in the past.”
It was as if a light bulb came on. There was nothing wrong with me! This was the love of God reaching down and telling me it’s time to look back…it’s time to let me walk you through the hard stuff so you can begin to live in ways you’ve never dreamed were possible!
“A soldier only experiences panic attacks when he’s finally home — when he is safe to face what was too difficult to process at the time.”
This opened my eyes to see that I truly was safe in the present. I realized my husband, my girls,
my home…they were a gift to me. They were a soft place for me to fall (if needed) and a soft place for me to rest. And because I am now safe, and because of that soft place, I can safely look back with Jesus and begin to heal.
The escalation of anxiety and triggers wasn’t a bad thing…it is now something I can thank God for. It’s not always fun! But as I lean into Jesus as things escalate and invite Him to sit with me in it…I’m experiencing healing. It doesn’t look like the healing I had anticipated, and I really can’t put into words how and what God is doing?…but something is changing, and for that I am so grateful.
I truly believe God has spoken into my life today through you! Thank you so very much for being authentic and vulnerable in sharing your life’s journey. I am going through a time of brokenness in my life that forced me to stop. My body, mind and spirit were giving me signs that clearly things were not okay. I tried to numb the pain in various ways, but that only prolonged the need for me to admit and accept it. I took a leave from work to rest and focus on this confusing time. To get curious about my emotions and seek the root to what is causing this pain. I have been praying for God to reveal to me what it might be. What you have shared has spoken a profound truth in my life. This makes sense to me and will give me insight to deal with my emotional and spiritual well-being. As I continue my healing journey I will seek out the help of a counselor. I have been encouraged today. My prayer will be that God continues to bless others through you, Amen!
Julie Garmon says
I’ve been there!
Beth Williams says
Thank you for an open, honest post. This is much needed. Often times well meaning Christians bash others without even understanding their plight. Psychiatric can arise from a number of reasons. It could be chemical imbalance, medicines, past traumas, etc. It doesn’t mean a lack of faith or less praying. I know a few “famous” Christians who have dealt with psych issues- Stephen C. Chapman’s wife Beth, & Chonda Pierce to name a few. I strongly believe in counseling. There are wonderful Christian counselors out there to help you. I pray for everyone dealing with psych issues & their partners/caregivers. God can & will heal you, just draw near to Him.
This message was everything and more. I overslept and missed church today and obviously felt a little guilty for not making more of an effort to make it there. So turned on my computer to access on the web church. As i waited for the live casting to begin I came across this blog post in my email. THANK GOD! This post became my church today. I read it with tears streaming down my face and then read it again dicing deeper into the scriptures. I am in complete awe, completely humbled and completely amazed at how awesomely God works. I truly have been struggling these past few months and this messages helped me so so sooo much. Thank you for sharing Bonnie and I thank God for using you. Im sure I am not the only one you’ve touched with this message. Forever grateful. May God continue to use you to make a difference in this world.
I just wanted to say thank you for writing and sharing this encouraging post. I see it strikes a chord with many judging by the amount of detailed comments. Did not have time to read all but loved your post.
Bless you. I’m a FB newbie and found my way here via the group Women Rise Up!
Linda Stafford says
I understand this message. Mental illness is looked as very taboo in my culture (Hmong) as well. We are told to not talk about it and when we do, everyone just brush it to the side as if it wasn’t important and the person experiencing this should just get over it. So I learn ways to cope or as I call it, fake it til I make it. I keep moving forward and keep pushing everything in back of me, never dealing or resolving it. No one takes me seriously if I even mentioned it. They say to me, “You have a great husband who loves you unconditionally and kids who adore you and so forth and so don’t even know why you feel the way you feel.” And so I am left to feel guilty for my own feelings. I am made to feel as I am ungrateful for all that I have. Which I clearly am not. I love my life and my husband and we had come a long way from who we used to be but there’s this issue with my head. I tell myself that it’s all in my head and maybe I am just emotional due to work related stress, due to my premenopausal body, due to lack of sleep, etc. and so forth until I con myself I don’t have any issues at all. This truly helps me to understand that I am not alone. There are others who struggle with this. Thank you for sharing.
I still carry the same pain and trauma depression going over five years now I’ll because I had to walk out 24 years of my marriage now divorced. It does a lot to a person in so many ways, I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same broken families are so hard to be held it does a lot to a person in so many ways, I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same, broken families are so hard to be healed. It affects the children in so many different ways. I feel so worthless at times so shut in. I am desperate now, that is why I am reaching out.
Abra Carnahan says
Thank you for your thoughts on this, Bonnie. I am a 34 year old mom to 4. My husband and I have been married since 2004. I have been manic depressive since I was a teenager, but I developed PTSD symptoms during my 3rd pregnancy that have persisted these 7 years. To say it has been a struggle would be a gross understatement. And it isn’t necessarily PTSD that is the biggest challenge, so much as the incredible discouragement and a barrage of unkindness that knowledge of what I am going through has been met with from those who cannot fathom mental illness occurring in a spiritually faithful person. Please continue to dispel myths and encourage our hearts. It is much needed. Blessings.
I have seen Christians looking more down on other Christians when mental illness is involved. We say to them to have more faith, read the bible more, get with other Christians more without understanding that this type of illness is not something a person can just shake it off. There was a time in which I felt I battled depression and anxiety and felt ashamed to admit anything to anyone for fear of them looking at my life and wondering how in the world can I be depressed. My life to the outside seem easy, joyful. I have three beautiful kids, a hard working husband who loves me, a job I enjoy doing and so forth. So it was hard for others to hear that I was depressed. People assumed I had no reasons to be depressed and shouldn’t be. So I was labeled as ungrateful and crazy which further pushed me into depression. Mental illness is serious and I pray that the Christian community would extend a hand out and not condemn the person for it.
Lyn Price says
Bonnie…the past couple of weeks I’ve been having a battle with especially anxiety which I believe Satan uses to tell me I’m not really saved which throws me into almost paralyzing fear. (My mental illness background is in my post to Naomi.) I typed in “I feel like a failure as a Christian” and your post came up. I had been calling out to the Lord most of the day in short prayers like, “HELP, LORD!!” and I believe finding this post is an answer. Bless you for writing on this so very important topic.