Can I be a Christian and have mental health issues?
Jesus comes for everyone. But more than this, Jesus can be especially attractive to those of us who struggle in this way.
1. Jesus comes for the sick. Time and time again, He reaches out to all those who know themselves to be weak…weak in body, weak in spirit, weak in mind. He goes to those who cut themselves off from others and harm themselves; whether promiscuity (the woman at the well), or addiction or self-harm (the man who cut himself in the caves) or workaholism, (Martha). He offers them grace: and truth. Grace for the ways they’re enslaved to their behaviours; truth for the choices that keep them enslaved.
2. Jesus doesn’t deal with us according to labels. He deals with people as individuals (see the examples above) and He never pigeonholes us or our problems. It’s never just physical or just mental or just social or just spiritual. He reaches beneath the surface and symptoms, to a person we may never have known existed.
3. With mental health (MH) struggles, we can easily lose our sense of self. We’re trapped in our heads and we can’t see a way out. But Jesus not only sees us as we are, but as we can be – as we were made to be.
4. When our brains are broken, it raises all sorts of questions. Why am I here? What am I worth? What is life all about? What does the future hold? Christ answers these things; and our church and faith gives us ground to walk on as we explore them.
5. If you’re struggling with MH, your feelings and self-perceptions are constantly changing. With Christianity your identity is based on an unchanging Person – Jesus and His life and teachings. Our identity and value is outside of us and outside of our feelings and experience. This is vital, especially when life is full of fear and anxiety.
6. Our struggles don’t disqualify us from Christianity: in fact, they can be evidence of it. As believers we expect suffering; and MH can be a part of this. We can speak with truth, grace and empathy to others who also face challenges. We can be a blessing to the church.