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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is an important part for some. Our Faith column is a place for anyone to discuss how faith positively affects their mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
It was one week before Christmas, and I sat at my new desk in the newspaper office I work in, head in my hands, trying to remind myself to breathe. Five years of being in recovery, of beating my mental illness, and thanks to the chaos of changes at work, I found myself slipping.
With tears streaming down my face, I thought, “I don’t know how to save myself.”
I’d like to say the first thing I did was pull out my Bible and look to God, but I didn’t have the strength or the time for that.
Instead, I whispered a quick prayer, asking Him to help me make it through the month of December, and returned to what I needed to do: focus on getting the mountain of work done, without thought of anything else.
I wish I could say that as I slipped into my first Bipolar episode in nearly five years, my faith was on fire and my trust in God was spiralling me forward. But it wasn’t, and it didn’t.
The only thing pushing me forward was the instinct of survival and the knowledge I would have a week of holidays to recover; I would be able to stop and focus on everything else when it was over. However, despite my inability to focus on God, to utilize my faith, He was still there.
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The amazing thing about God is He never required us to be at our best, to have big faith, or to have the strength to submit all to Him in order to work in us or help us.
The amazing thing about God is He meets us exactly where we are at, and where our faith is lacking, He fills in the rest.
Psalm 31:24 reminds us to, “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (AKJV). To Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12: 9a, God says, “My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness” (NIV).
One of the best pieces of wisdom I’ve ever received regarding times of weakness was about the power only a little bit of faith can contain.
In Matthew 17:20b we are told, “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible” (NLT).
The friend who gave me that advice told me to take the small faith I had–the last bit of strength–and latch it to God as if He is a wooden pole in the middle of a stormy ocean, and the only thing that will stop me from drowning. I need to stop worrying about what I have the strength to do and start letting God be the strength for me.
We all know the story of ‘Footprints in the Sand’. It’s a powerful story reminding us when we are lacking in strength, God often does the rest.
God carries us through the storm, helping us survive.
When the storm calms, however, I can’t promise you’ll be okay. Truthfully, God has never promised when we walk through the valley, we’ll walk out in full health, fully recharged, or completely unscathed. If you’re anything like me, when the storm calms is when you are going to crumble. Your efforts are no longer focused on merely surviving, so everything you’ve had to shove aside and ignore during that time will rush to the surface with the power of every cascading waterfall in the world.
One of the important things to remember is God does more than just carry us through and give us strength to get through; He provides us with opportunities for fellowship with communities of other Christians to help us. Times of suffering are when these communities, particularly our churches, become a support network.
It can be hard to admit to anyone we are struggling, let alone letting members of the congregation and of our faith community know our mental health is failing. However, part of the strength God provides us with is the strength from others: from their prayers, their support, and their understanding. This strength can provide us with just enough to push forward and remember that each relapse, each dark cloud, will eventually clear.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
Unfortunately, the depression and the darkness is going to come, and it’s going to come sometimes when you can’t handle it.
Thankfully, we have a God who wants to be here for us as much as we’d like Him to be, and to be our strength when we don’t have enough.
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The opinions and information shared in this article 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.