Just a quick post today because this is a topic that is not addressed well, if at all, in most Christian churches and circles. My friend, Andrea Cockrum, shares her perspective on the topic in a great video blog post here:
I understand why some people may think that it is just not possible for Christians to have a mental illness. They look to the KJV of the Bible in 2 Timothy 1:7 that says, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
But, and I'll probably offend or upset some of you, I'm not a fan of the KJV for reasons I don't care to get into on my blog. (Please don't try to convince me otherwise…just be content that God accepts us no matter which version we read!)
The ESV says it this way: "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."
And the NIV this way: "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline."
And numerous other versions say something similar…so I'm not inclined to use that verse about having a "sound mind" as an excuse as to why strong Christians can't be mentally ill.
"Praying harder" or "getting deeper into the Word" are like a kick in the stomach to those struggling with mental illness. It's not a matter of faith…it's just a matter of being ill!
Andrea, and many, many others, suffer with a wide variety of mental illnesses like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, including Postpartum Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and others. To think that we are immune to such illness is foolish! It's like saying we can't get cancer or have a stroke or have appendicitis or go blind or get diabetes. I have a friend who is currently serving in the mission field who is Bipolar. God can use broken vessels…we ALL are broken! I'm just thankful she trusted me enough to share her struggle with me so I can pray for her.
I encourage you to "bring to light" this topic so it will allow transparency in the church and allow us to encourage one another and pray for each other, as we are called to do! And if you suffer from some sort of mental illness (or have in the past…I struggled with depression during my 4th pregnancy), know that it is OK to seek treatment and even take, if prescribed, medications to allow you to live your life! If you don't like meds, find some natural supplements that can help. The internet is full of great homeopathic sites that can help.
Above all, I pray that, if you are blessed by someone sharing their illness with you, listen to them, don't pass judgement, encourage them to seek help from a licensed mental health professional (most church pastors and counselors are NOT trained in diagnosing/treating mental illness), and ask them how you can help, even if it's just offering a hug or being willing to listen and pray for them.
Please share this article with anyone you think would benefit from hearing Andrea's story!