Jesus and Therapy| By Jessica Carpenter

In 2016, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It was relieving to receive an official diagnosis because it put a name to all of the chaos in my brain. However, it was also terrifying because affirmed the lies I already believed about myself.

One of the most disheartening things that I struggle with is the balance of trying to cling to Jesus while the church either tells me to “try harder” or  completely dismisses the topic of mental health altogether.

I have made it my mission to tear down every stigma that says I do not love Jesus just because I cannot fix my brain.

I could sum up my journey of living with a mental illness as a big “EVEN IF”

Even if depression tells me I am worthless, His redemption is irreversible 

Even if I feel damaged and disposable, He still calls me friend 

Even if I choose to isolate, His hand still reaches

Even if it gets hard to breathe, He is always near

Dear friend, 

When it seems hard to cling to Jesus (even when you know it is the very thing you need), it is okay. When scripture memory is out of the question because the simplest task of getting out of bed feels impossible, you are not alone. When your days go from the absolute best to feeling like it cannot get any worse, keep fighting to see more of those good days. They will come.

My scores on the GAD scale fluctuated for two years between severe and moderate-severe. In December, I finally scored mild. I cried the entire way home. I cannot tell you that it was not hard, but I will tell you that it was all worth it. Again, fight for those good days. This is nor to say that I will never be above the mild range again, but I am confident in the tools I have to keep me grounded. Open those blinds and windows. Meal prep for those rough weeks. Have a friend ask those hard, but necessary questions. 

Dear church,

Learn to know more than just the faces you see on Sunday mornings. From the pulpit to the back row, there are people suffering from depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, PTSD, panic disorders, and so much more.

“Just seek help!” 

I agree; however, it is not as easy as it sounds. It takes courage to reach out and ask for help, but to also remain committed to the work of seeing healing take place. From personal experience, **trauma counseling gave me nightmares and made me sensitive to certain topics and situations. There were times where my depression and anxiety both spiked at the same time. So yes, I did seek help, but it did not excuse me from the realities of the healing journey.

**Please note this is not the case for all people!**

Know that there are people who may not show up consistently each week to Sunday Service or small group for these exact reasons. Rather than assuming Sunday mornings and small groups are the answer for all of life’s difficulties, learn to lean in and ask questions. 

Reach out with a simple, “hey, we missed seeing you last week. If you’re willing, I’d love to catch up with you and talk or listen!”

 Follow through. Then, do it again and again and again.

I have no doubt that Jesus would go through hell and high water for those who cannot do it for themselves. My hope is to see the church begin to rise up and do the same for all who suffer in silence. 

Psalm 42 (ESV)

“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,

for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,

as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.”

It Gets Better: A Letter to the Old Me| By Emily Lawson

Dear Old Me,

I see you. I feel your anxiousness. I feel your worry; how deep it goes in your chest. I know that your head tries to tell you that you need to lose that weight. I know it tells you that you are not as pretty as her. I know it tells you that you do not have the skills. 

I know it tells you that they do not care. 

And I also know it keeps those words on a repeat soundtrack at all hours. Day and night. 

I also know what you have been through. You have overcome so many things already. You’ve been to the darkest of days and back in your life.

Yet, that lonely feeling stands. It reminds you every day of the times you have failed and been failed by others. Your mind tells you that God has no idea where you are. You are one in millions. There is no way that He can feel the need to help you. 

But, honey, God sees you as ‘one in a million’. You are unique and perfect. He created the you that you are and cares enough to send His only son to die on a cross for YOU. God is so much greater than the thoughts that the devil puts in your head. 

My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)

That means YOUR weakness.

His strength is the PERFECT thing that comes from admitting the weakness you feel. 

Your significant other is not always available. Your best friend needs sleep, too. Your social media friends will not quite get it on the level you need.

Your mind is a dangerous prison, love.

Mentally: It holds you in a controlled environment and in some ways that provides comfort. You are in a place that is familiar, and you have grown used to the numbness. It is mostly in your control. But on bad days, you just need to reach a little further than it is letting you, and the chains around your neck dig a little deeper. That restraint makes you feel like you are never going to make it out alive. 

Physically: You are tired. And not an “Oh I couldn’t sleep last night” tired, but an “I can feel it in my bones, and it isn’t going to change” tired. You are tired of faking the smile for others. You are tired of trying so hard to be “normal”, and it is weighing down your shoulders and making it harder to get out of bed. 

You need help.

And asking for help does not mean that you have failed. It means that you have WON. It means that you have finally stepped back, let go of control, and held to the hand of Jesus to drag you out of the pit that your head has held you captive in all this time.

Now, listen to Him. 

Rebuke the devil from off your back. Tell him he has no place. Take hold of your Savior’s hand and let him break those chains. 

Get out there. Seek the help. Talk to the doctor. Take the medication. Get on the path that helps you be the best you. 

For your family. 

For yourself.

For Jesus.

Recovery is a road, but you have got a friend to walk down it with you. Through each step, He will place your foot. Each bump, He catches your arm. Trust in Him.  

It can and WILL get better. I am telling you from the other side.

Your mental health is so important, and you are worth every bit of effort. 

Never forget that. 

Love, New Me

Follow Emily’s Instagram @the_modest_wife and/or email her at modest.wife@gmail.com.

Being Still in the Midst of Anxiety| By Jasmine Beard

Heart pounding, thoughts going a mile a minute, scared, terrified for no apparent reason.

I was 18 when I had my last major panic attack. I was leaving college and was headed on my way home when I was hit with sheer panic and confusion. It may have been 8 years ago, but I still remember my thoughts directly after the incident. I thought:

“what’s wrong with me?”

“What is this?”

“Will it happen again?”

“What if something really bad happens when/if it happens again?”

If you cannot tell, I was a bit of a worrier at that age, and if I am not careful, I can still go into a cycle of worrying, fear and eventual panic attacks. I like order, plans, and control, but life is simply not predictable.

Honestly, anxiety makes sense in our world because of the sheer pressure we put on ourselves and on other people. My days are filled with ever ending lists, juggling jobs, ministry, bills, starting a non-profit organization, trying to maintain a normal social life for a 20-something  year-old woman, and much much more, but I will spare you.

On top of all of our ever growing to-do lists, throw in unplanned life happenings, and it can turn some of us into the biggest worrywarts and anxiety-ridden folks. I cannot tell you the amount of acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and relatives I know who battle anxiety on a regular if not on a daily basis.

One day recently in the midst of my ever growing lists and unforeseen situations, I heard the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart for a slower pace and for a season of rest.

If you are anything like me, you cringe when you hear that word. I cringe not because I do not want to rest (because trust me, I really do, like really.) But my question was, how?!

How was I supposed to rest when my world was spinning? That’s when Psalms 46:10 began to ring in my ear, it says:

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

I have always loved this passage of scripture, but up until recently, I have never dug deep into the meaning of this.

Most of us have heard this scripture before. Maybe when you read it you picture yourself waiting quietly and expectantly waiting for a whisper from Heaven. Although that is not a bad thing, when we dig deeper into this scripture we learn that the Hebrew root of be still is not “to be quiet”, but rather “to let go”.

This may sound crazy if you are a planner, a doer, and maybe even a worrier like me. Even with knowing scriptures like “who has ever added a day to their life by worrying? (Matthew 6:27)”, I still find that worry can be my initial reaction instead of faith.

Maybe you feel like that today. You worry about the big stuff and even the little things that maybe do not matter as much. I want to encourage you to let go of your anxieties and worries and place them into the hands of your Heavenly Father.

It is all little stuff to Him and fails in comparison to how BIG our God is.

So let’s position in our hearts to be still and to know…..

To know that God is making a way for that light bill to be payed.

To know God is making a way for your baby to be healed.

To know God is making a way for you to get that raise at work.

To know that God is making a way for YOU.

He is making a way that allows you to let go of every anxiety, worry, and pain, and for you to trust Him at His word that “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Remember that God is walking through every step of life with you holding your hand, longing to carry your burdens and guide your every step. Let go of the pressure you place on yourself. You are not called to carry the weight of your burdens one little bit. Just let go and know that God is trustworthy and faithful to work all of our anxieties out all on His own if we just trust Him.

“Many put their hope in chariots, others in horses, but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God.” Psalms 20:7 (Voice)