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I Know Someone: How to Be Real When You’re Suffering
I know someone who was saved at eight but has questioned her salvation many times since that night.
I know someone who once led every Bible Study group possible in college but now struggles to find a Bible Study group she’s not leading herself.
I know someone who experienced God’s radical hand of deliverance when she was twenty-one, only to face her fears again at twenty-six.
I know someone who writes about mental health and is great at telling others how to take care of themselves but cannot manage to do so for herself.
I know someone who has fallen so far from herself in the past four years that when she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t even recognize herself.
I know someone known for being resilient and strong amid adversity but now feels the weakest she ever has.
I know someone who has told others to press on and fight the good fight but has not been able to do that.
I know someone who has turned her relationship with God into another productive habit to check off her list.
I know someone who has said hundreds of apathetic prayers yet still expected change to come.
I know someone who has grown stagnant in their faith even though they don’t want to.
I know someone who has felt like a shell of themselves even though they’re fighting for their freedom every single day.
I know someone who has sung with a worship team since she was twelve, but not really sure she’s ever meant or understood a single word she said.
And at the end of the day, I know so much about this person because this person is me.
You Are Not Alone
This past Sunday at Church, a powerful testimony was given by a woman I highly admire. She used the same phrasing as above but shared her story. Her struggles with mental health. Her moments of highs and lows within her Christian faith. And as she did, a bolt ruptured through my heart. Because parts of who she described were parts of me.
Suddenly, something I had been praying about for a very long time–to have someone feel like me, was presented on a stage. A prayer truly answered. But not because I would ever wish my sufferings and feelings upon another person, but because I needed to know that I wasn’t alone.
That someone else was not okay.
That someone else felt something other than happy in Church.
And the last thing they felt like doing was praising God and thanking Him for His goodness. What I prayed for was someone and something real.
And that was what I got.
I think for a long time, I’ve been saying that I needed someone to be real at Church. To admit that they were not okay so that I could feel less alone. But the truth is, I needed to be honest and real, too. I was asking for someone else to do what I needed to be doing.
Because while I can write from home about mental health and my struggles, it is much more difficult for me to go to an altar in front of a Church and weep for my sorrows. It is easier for me to hide behind the platform of being a mental health author than to look someone in the eye and ask them to pray for me and my mental health.
A Call to Be Real
Today, I am taking the challenge to be real in my writing and in my everyday life.
I am taking the step to ask you to pray for me as I am praying for you.
In my relationships, being real looks like reaching out to my friends when I’m struggling. It means speaking out and asking for prayer instead of failing to mention my concerns or acting like I have it all together.
At Church, this looks like reaching out to trusted sources who can offer to stand with me and allowing them to do that.
At home, this looks like honoring my body, soul, and mind by tending to what it needs instead of some legalistic and prescriptive views I’ve prescribed to myself. Including rest that my productive mind hates.
At work, it means setting boundaries and saying no when I really don’t have anything left to give. It means giving what I have, and not pouring from an empty cup.
In my relationship with God, it means carving out that time and prioritizing journaling as a prayer when I know that is a release for me.
And today, or any day, I pray that you will join me.
I know this challenge and call to be genuine and reach out or ask for help is hard. In fact, I feel embarrassed, ashamed, and scared doing so myself. But I should not feel that way. Neither should you.
God created us for community and relationships, and that didn’t mean perfect relationships that don’t need help, either. God created us to stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ no matter where they are, who they are, or what they are going through.
He asked us to be honorable and raw when we’re learning experts on a topic and when we know nothing but want to share in empathy. And both require transparency.
Four Long Years
Over the past four years, I’ve suffered much turmoil and grief. Physical and mental pain I never knew existed. And while I’ve shared pieces of this story through my writing on a daily basis, the number of times I’ve shared it in Church or by asking for prayer in that setting is few. And this is where it ends.
No longer, do I want to sit in the pew and feel a nudge to go to the altar but ignore it?
No longer, do I want to stand as an advocate for mental health, preaching resources that are Godly and Psychological without remembering the power of God through those things?
I want to be bold enough to ask for prayer.
To bow at the altar as I bend a knee.
To tell those I’m writing to that I am also not always okay.
I want to be bold enough to seek out medication, therapy, and whatever type of help I may need to truly heal my mental health, as the Lord guides and prescribes.
But at the end of the day, I want to remember that no matter my struggles, no matter the highs and lows of my faith, no matter when I am bold or when I am fearful, these truths will never change:
That God loves me.
That God sees me.
That God cares for me and about me.
That God died on the cross for me.
That God sent Jesus so that I could be free.
That God sent the Holy Spirit so I would never walk alone.
That God’s power is still at work in this world.
That God’s power is still at work in me.
That God’s power is available through the resources He’s blessed us with.
Even when I’m suffering.
Even when I don’t feel Him.
Even when I know someone who is struggling.
And when that person is me.
For I know someone who is choosing to read her Bible not out of an addiction to productivity or checking a list, but because she wants to hear from her Heavenly Father. She desires stillness, for that is where He often speaks.
And I know someone who’s choosing to learn how to take care of herself not because she knows it’s good for her, but because she wants to tend to the Temple the Lord has given her.
I know someone who’s reaching out for help, taking action steps, but remembering that it is a process. I know someone taking it one day at a time.
I know someone who’s allowing God to move in her life how He sees fit without trying to take control herself. I know someone who is surrendering.
I know so much about this person because I’m still learning to become her.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36, New International Version).
I hope you’ll join me.