It’s not really been a secret, but this series has been a very difficult one for me to write. Normally, my writing comes from a deeply personal space, but for some reason this particular subject turned out to be exhausting. It is likely, at least in part, due to my current state of recovery from a mental breakdown.
They say “write what you know,” and I always have. That’s why this was something I expected to flow easily from my heart. But perhaps I didn’t know it as well as I thought I did. Perhaps I am still learning on a fundamental level. Perhaps I am trying to instruct others in rock climbing while I nurse a broken leg.
Although I never did claim to have healthy legs. 😉
And that’s why I forged ahead. In the beginning I said, let’s figure this out together. I’m not an expert. I am learning alongside you all. We are friends, a loving community, who are just plain *in it* together. We still are.
So, with that said, I invite you to the third and final part of this series.
Christ is our healing
Probably my toughest struggle in all this was to accept advice outside my church. I didn’t think that would be troublesome for me, but it seemed that when it really came down to language like “love yourself,” “you’re perfect just the way you are,” and “take care of yourself first,” I didn’t know how my faith fit in to all this. What were my options, here? Because sometimes? It felt like my options were a) to go against the teachings of my church and love the heck out of myself, or b) eventually die at my own hands.
And if those are my only options, where is my faith? If my faith had been good and strong, would I have fallen so low in the first place? Those whose hope is in the Lord…is it possible for them to find themselves considering suicide? But regardless of any of that…what now?
These are the horrifying questions that we, whose mental health has suffered, ask ourselves at least once but probably much, much more.
So let’s speak some healing to them.
St. Porphyrios is one of my favorites, so I’d like to honor him here by sharing this very insightful piece of wisdom:
“Man seeks joy and happiness in heaven. He seeks what is eternal far from everyone and everything. He seeks to find joy in God. God is a mystery. He is silence. He is infinite. He is everything. Everyone possesses this inclination of the soul for heaven. All people seek something heavenly. All beings turn towards Him, albeit unconsciously.”
Also, here’s a psalm I hear in church often, and always find reassuring:
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord, my God, I have cried to you for help, and you healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.
You know what? I don’t know how I got to where I got, aside from life being just too darn hard, but these two quotes tell me something important.
My soul finds its satisfaction in Christ alone, and he is pure healing to my broken pieces.
Ultimately, healing from mental scars is incomplete without running to the Physician of our souls and bodies. But what’s cool is that anything true in modern psychology is also something else. It’s God’s.
To be fair, of course, in the context of our faith, we are not “perfect just the way we are,” because we are broken people who have made wrong decisions and need to change course. Some of the stuff I hear in therapy sounds kinda wrong. But the point here is that we need to dissect those questionable statements. If there’s truth *in it,* it’s worthwhile to find it and recognize that that truth is made whole in Christ. So we’re not perfect just the way we are. But maybe we are loved the way we are. Maybe that statement can mean to us that we are not too far gone. Maybe we can look at self-acceptance as the acceptance that yes, we are broken, and that’s okay (in the way of not serving as a dealbreaker for life or for relationships). This is where I am right now, and this person, just the way she is, is moving forward.
So don’t feel guilty if a secular therapist said one thing that changed your foundational perspective and set you off on the path to healing. Don’t feel like this distanced you from your faith. To experience true healing is to experience the true God. If you can sift through the words and find the real message, that’s where you will find Him.
Thanks for sticking around for this series. I know it was painfully earned.
I have an exciting year planned out for the blog, at long last, so I hope you’ll come back and check out what’s going on. God bless!