Handling Mental Illness as a wife & mother
There was a season of about 2 years where I wrestled and learned and kept private a treasure trove of lessons the Lord took me through as He sanctified me and renewed my thinking. With the exception of my mentor, I held those lessons quite close, still holding many close today. The depression was thick and there would be relapses, but God was privately teaching me and whispering Truth to my heart, mind, and soul.
Then, something changed.
Deep within, I knew my time had come to share the ripened lessons I had taken to heart and put into practice. Not perfectly, but faithfully. God was telling me “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light. What you hear in a whisper, proclaim on the housetops” (Matthew 10:27). There has been untold joy in choosing the obey God in sharing how He has saved me and continues to sustain me, but there’s a side I haven’t shared much - a side that brings sadness, temptation towards shame, and reluctance to be bold.
The story God has given me, much like the story He has given you, is one that is meant to be shared. There is a desperate world that needs to hear of our hope in Christ. But obedience comes with a cost.
Each time I share a detail of our family’s story regarding my struggle for mental health, I have a family that stands exposed...a husband who lived the trauma of my story alongside me, and children who have peers that read my stories and can turn testimonies of rescue into reasons to ridicule.
“Your mom like has...depression,” can become a gateway to laughter at my children who are wise and sensitive beyond their years in areas I wish had never tainted their lives. But here’s the deal. This is the story God has given those of us who follow Jesus and live with broken minds. Nothing regarding our design was an accident or out of His control. He supplies all that we need in this sometimes gruesome battle against mental illness. Obedience to Him is possible when He calls us to share (appropriate) details of our story. And the love and urge to protect those closest to us whom we fear our stories heap shame on? I’m challenged to trust in God to protect their hearts and minds. He has given them this story as well. Their unique perspectives have the power to preach Christ, and although my desire for their well-being tempts me to be silent, obedience to Jesus is worth it. Jesus loves them more than I do. He can be trusted.
But what happens when we feel God give us the nudge to share our stories publicly? Is it even a good idea? Suddenly an opportunity of shame and silence presents itself to the enemy who hates your victory in Jesus and your endurance through suffering. His deception wraps its hand over your mouth, and the dying world misses hearing how Jesus has saved and sustained you. Like the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4:1), “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” But Scripture goes on to say “Many more believed because of what he said. And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, since we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world” (John 4:39-42).
The ultimate goal is for others to hear from Jesus and be saved, but there are many who will believe because God uses your story as a way to draw them in.
Maybe you feel the time isn’t quite right as you’re still fighting just to survive each day. May today’s post infuse your pain with purpose and give you hope. If you feel inclined to share how Jesus sustains you in the midst of mental illness, but you fear what it will do to your family, discuss with them why you feel led to share. I’m learning the wisdom in sharing with them before you share with the world regarding this sensitive subject. Ask God for wisdom in this area, and when your flesh tempts you to silence because let’s face it, mental illness is awkward in our society to talk about, let’s remember these words of Jesus:
“The one who loves a father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; the one who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39