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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is important to many. Our Faith column is a place to discuss how faith (of any kind) positively affects mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
Being a Christian with mental health problems brings a whole new dynamic to the messy, confusing process that is recovery. Faith means security, strength, and new hope, but it can also create internal conflict about where to turn for help with our mental health.
How much should we involve doctors and medication? Should we seek support from our faith community if we are already having general medical care? Which is more helpful? The answers to these questions are, of course, not simple or ‘one size fits all’.
For the vast majority of people, a combination of faith and non-faith input is the most helpful.
However, the balance within this varies wildly depending on the individual.
It is important we allow ourselves space to work out our own balance. In my recovery, I see a non-faith-based therapist, take medication, and am under an NHS GP and psychiatrist.
There is no way, however, I would be able to maintain recovery without my quiet times with God, my supportive church community, and the Christian friends who pray for me and come alongside me.
There is no denying there is a biological component to mental illness.
Research into brain disorders such as depression, PTSD, and eating disorders has highlighted multiple changes from the norm in the brain. This includes chemical imbalance and altered connectivity between different neural regions. (src 1)
Similarly, it is difficult to discount the spiritual aspect.
God’s intentions towards us are completely pure and He uses our struggles for good, but the enemy takes any opportunity to use our weaknesses against us.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)
The enemy is looking for the best way to derail us in our lives and to minimise the influence and change we bring. I know for me, there would be no better way to do so than to set me up to fall back into my eating disorder. When pouring all my energy into self-destruction, there is very little chance of me taking hold of my God-given purpose.
This battle is not only against the chemicals in my synapses or the unhealthy thought patterns I have developed. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but…against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)
This is not a reason to be afraid or to give up, but an important reminder to involve God in our recovery.
The battle has already been won and He is ultimately victorious: we need to choose to declare truth over our struggles and pray God’s name into every situation.
My heart and my mind belong to Him, so He is fully included in everything going on within me, whether or not I am also helped by medication or outside therapy. God is so intrinsically entwined in my life that I do not fear being pulled away from Him–healing can only move me towards Him.
God has blessed us with the availability of medication, which can correct the balance of neurotransmitters in our minds, as well as trained professionals who have experience of dealing with our conditions. Rejecting those things would not glorify Him.
There is no shame in taking hold of what He has provided for us.
There is no lack of faith in accepting crisis care from your local mental health team.
Of course, we can listen to what God is telling us about these practical aspects and follow His promptings. He will lead us to a particular counsellor and surround us with the people we need at each point in our progress.
It is a matter of perspective–if God is truly running through the centre of your life, He will be incredibly present in all you do. Ambrose Paré, a famous surgeon and anatomist, was reported as saying “I dressed the wound, but God healed it.” (src 2)
We can create, with medication and accepting outside help, an environment in which God can move to heal us.
Ultimately, it honours God when you make decisions which are good for your health, whether they are physical, emotional, or spiritual. You are His precious little child and He is constantly speaking His life and adoration over you.
Today, I challenge all of us to tune in to what He might be saying. He uses all available routes through which to bring us into deeper healing. Which is He encouraging your towards today?
Sources: 1. Moustafa A, Phillips J, Keri S, Misiak B, Frydecka D. On the complexity of brain disorders: a symptom-based approach. Frontiers in computational neuroscience. 2016 Feb; 10(16). 2. Coppi C. I dressed your wounds, God healed you--a wounded person's psychology according to Ambroise Parè. Journal of osteotomy and wound management. 2005 Aug; 51(8).
SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.