There is a long-standing narrative in our culture, especially in our churches, that mental illness is more of a moral failing than experiencing any other clinically diagnosable disease. All illness in our bodies is a mind, body, and soul experience. When we are suffering due to an ailment, we need the peace of God to help us endure our trials; we need to make changes in how we care for our bodies to experience healing. We need a community to call on to support us on our journey, and we should pray diligently that God offers us healing. We often rely on the expertise of professionals and take medication as tools for us to find that healing.All of the actions described above are the exact same steps necessary for a person to find healing or relief from mental illness. Yet, just last week, I sat in a service where those taking anti-anxiety medications were a group being called out. Clearly, we still lack in our ability to address mental illness in church with grace and understanding. Many Christians believe that mental illness is more than an ailment; it is a spiritual failure.If you've never struggled with your mental health, it can be hard to understand what it feels like to have your mind and body hijacked by the crushing weights of anxiety, depression, or other debilitating mental illnesses; I assure you, as someone that has walked this trying road, there is more to these terrifying experiences than a lack of a proper understanding of God's Word. God's Word is an amazing tool that does help us all find healing in our lives. Nonetheless, when we are experiencing clinical forms of mental distress, we also need the help of our community and professionals to find balance in our bodies again.Just as the church would not shame, discourage, or call out a person with diabetes for taking insulin, we also should be careful not to use words that would stigmatize treatments for a person being treated for mental illness. Spiritual leaders need to take note of this medical crisis that is happening in their communities and begin to educate themselves on how to love people well that need the love of Christ, their community, and the guidance of experts to find healing.
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