Therapy and Jesus

I must admit that this might be a little touchy for people to read. I promise to tread here softly but truthfully. I know that a lot of christians believe that if we have Jesus we have everything that we need. I truly believe that Jesus offers to us everything we need but I also completely believe that he uses others as well to help him be that in the earth. I’m going to try to make this a little clearer. Jesus cannot come in the flesh and sit with us and offer wisdom and support in a flesh body but he can embody a therapist and fill him or her with his wisdom to do just that in a fleshly human body. The same with doctors, nurses, psychiatrist etc…he uses so many different avenues to be all that we need in the earth. So with all that being said, I want to share with you about having Jesus and still going to therapy. I will not say that therapy is for everyone because I strongly believe it is an individual choice. I do believe that anyone that needs therapy should be able to go without the judgement of others. Therapy does not say you are a weak Christian as a matter of fact, to me your just as strong of a Christian as the next person your just doing what you need to do to remain in a place that God can use you. Did you realize that being mentally healthy is important to you doing ministry healthy?

I will share my own personal journey with you on my experience with therapy and Jesus. I will never forget the moment I entered a therapist office for the first time. I was scared and felt a little ashamed because it had come down to me desperately needing that level of support. I felt like I was somehow failing God by needing to go. What I didn’t understand was that God would meet me in that therapist office and I would sense his presence with me in every session. I did not know how desperately I needed to get those trauma secrets I had been carrying out. I needed to do it with a trained professional who could support and guide me in voicing those experiences that needed to come out. See those secrets were in the dark because I was too ashamed to share them. Once I voiced them they were brought into the light in the safety of her office and after processing them in a healthy place, they soon were rendered powerless. I felt like I was no longer keeping poison inside that was rotting me from the inside out. I’ve gone to counseling off and on for many years now. I’ve also loved and served Jesus through all of it. I have come to realize that Jesus did not stop loving me because I went to therapy. I wasn’t sat on a shelf somewhere and deemed unusable. I believe that he still took all of it and used it for his glory to help others to come to him with their mental health struggles.

I’ve been seeing a therapist for a little while now and it’s been the best thing. I’ve seen a few therapist over the years and it’s been amazing. I’ve seen Christian therapist and secular therapist. I’ve learned that with any therapist you have to take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Even seeing a Christian therapist does not mean that every thing that they share is going to work for you. The beauty of therapy I believe is the right that you always have to choose. At the end of every session, you get to choose what you walk away with. A good therapist will never force you to use every single technique they teach. The words they speak are not the gospel😉. Good therapist want you to remain in control, they want you to use your voice and remember that this is your life given to you by God and only you can live it. I think of them as someone who can help me to process things that are causing me pain. Oftentimes I view their offices as safe places to let go. I see them as places I can rest from my heavy protective armour and just be. I can be present in that moment with them it is safe to voice my struggles in the safety of their office. When I was processing very painful memories, I longed for those sessions to check in and process those moments. I reminded myself that God was with me and he was going to help me get through the process. Therapist are not God’s but they can be led by God and they can be used by God to help us heal.

I want to leave this thought with you. You can absolutely have Jesus and STILL go to therapy. You can serve Jesus and love him with your whole heart and STILL go to therapy. You can preach, teach, read, quote, study and memorize the word of God and STILL go to therapy. It does not have to be one or the other. You can have them both and still belong to Jesus. Maybe you have been feeling the need to go to therapy but struggling with the stigma that is placed on Christians and therapy. Let that go and get what you need. If therapy is what you need, I pray for courage for you to go after what you need. I am so grateful for your presence here. The fact that you would read my words here in this space means so much to me. I honor your presence here.

Lord Jesus I pray for every person reading this blog post. I pray that you will give them the courage they need to go to therapy. Lord I pray that you will lead them to the therapist that will be the best fit for them. I pray that they will know that you are always with them. I pray they will encounter your love in new and deep ways. In Jesus name I pray. Anen

Hiding the Lows

Sometimes even in a space full of other humans, we can find a way to hide our deepest pain or feel so unseen in our broken pieces. It’s like we treat the lows as some deep dark secret that even those closest to us can’t see. So we plaster on those fake smiles so that our deep sadness is tucked safely behind them. We do our best to fade into the crowd and not be seen. What would others think if our thoughts were heard out loud. If they could feel what we’re feeling, how would they get through it? Why do we find comfort in hiding the lows? We believe that were protecting those we love from our pain. It is okay to not hide the lows, it’s okay to invite those we trust into those moments. You nor I have to walk through those moments alone. I know it seems best to hide when we’re struggling with a low but, if you feel strong enough to reach out to your safe people, please do it…..please.

One thing I struggle with is feeling ashamed of being in a low place when I’m having a hard time. How do you tell someone your sad but you don’t completely understand why? How do you bare the dark night that is happening within your soul? Those are questions I asked myself a lot. Sometimes I found myself choosing to try and walk through it alone. My walking through it alone looked a lot like crying downstairs, or in the shower so no one saw me. I did a lot of avoiding eye contact with people I love dearly. I found myself slowly withdrawing from hanging out with others. I thought I was hiding it but the truth is they knew I was struggling but didn’t know how to help. I believe my hiding it from them made them more uncomfortable reaching out to me.

I wanted to believe I wasn’t alone but the lies of the enemy felt so real. Those lies felt like my truth. You know how it feels when your spiraling down and you feel as if you can’t grasp on to anything of truth. This might be hard to hear and believe but Jesus is right there. We can never hide the low moments from him. He sees them, he feels them and rather you care to believe it or not; he truly understands them. He knows the thoughts you are having, those thoughts that you are ashamed to even voice. The thoughts of ending it all, stoping the pain but leaving those who love you in more pain than you could ever imagine in that moment. Moments no matter how long they feel are only temporary. Those moments are not permanent…..they do change.

I want to encourage you as I encourage myself that there is no shame in reaching out for help in the low moments. There is no shame in admitting that you need prayer or someone to be accountable to in those moments. I actually benefit from checking in with my safe people that never judge the struggle but they just walk with me through those moments praying for me all along the way. We’re going to get through the lows because Jesus is with us. Jesus loves us so much. I believe that his heart is turned towards us in a deeper way in those moments. Don’t be afraid to let him in to those moments. I’m grateful for your presence here. I don’t take it lightly that you would read my words. My hope and prayer is that you will find strength and courage to keep going. I hope you feel less alone.

Father I pray for the one reading these words. I pray that they will feel your presence and know that they are not alone. I pray that they will feel you with them and know that they are surrounded by your overwhelming love. Give them strength for the journey and fill them with your overwhelming peace. In Jesus name. Amen

Medication or Not

I must admit that this can be a touchy subject for many. Everyone has their own opinion as it relates to taking medication for mental health struggles. You have some people who shame others for needing medication, you have those who are totally for taking medication for mental health needs and then you have those who feel like it’s a complete lack of faith or a weakness because you do. I guess you can say, there we are in the middle left with the decision to take meds to support our mental health or suffer in silence if we choose not to. I believe the decision to take meds is a individual decision that only the person and those they invite into that decision making process can make. Only you know in fact what you need to help support you with your mental health. Sometimes we may choose to go to therapy and work through the issues that might be causing the struggle and we need meds to keep us in a good place as we work through those things. In such cases your seeing a therapist who will probably teach you tools to help as well as taking meds. I am truly proud of you for realizing what you need to help you remain mentally healthy. I want to share my story with you in hopes that it will encourage you and make you feel less alone.

This is a photo of me a few years ago on my lunch break in my car crying. I must tell you that this was a very vulnerable moment and I never take photos of myself like this. This particular day I felt like I needed to take a photo to mark this moment because I knew change was all around me. I’ve had countless moments like this where the deep sadness felt like it would drown me. Many moments I felt like I couldn’t breathe the sadness was so deep and painful. The tears many times turned into sobs and thoughts of suicide felt like a comfort soothing blanket. Have you ever been there where suicide ideation felt more like a way out than a permanent solution to what might be a temporary emotion. I will tell you this, in those moments they feel endless rather than temporary. The desperation is real. I’ve been on and off medication countless times. I would take it and feel better then decide I didn’t need it anymore. For those of you who have experienced this you know the downward struggle is real and painful. I finally came to a place that in that season of my life I needed the help of medication to be able to process traumatic events from my childhood. I often times say that medication stands between your emotions and your overwhelming emotions and cause them to be manageable. Medication for some is the answer and for others it might not be. I believe what is most vital that we do what is most beneficial for staying mentally healthy.

“The taking of medication is not a sin but the judgement surrounding it is”.

Lora Terry

This quote really struck me when I first read it. I could not stop pondering it, because yes medication is good , but making sure that were not medicating symptoms of a greater issue is also something to consider. Hear me closely with this….. medication can not take away the effects of traumatic events in our lives. It will take some level of talk therapy. The power of voicing your story and sorting through the emotions attached to it can be very healing. I believe therapist create safe spaces where we can voice our stories and do the work to heal in a safe non judgemental space. I still believe though there are times in order to get to that place we need medication. What I hoped to do with this post was to help you feel understood. I oftentimes felt so misunderstood when I would try to talk about the internal struggle I had with medication. The struggle that made me feel powerless. After really processing the struggle, I realized that I was allowing others opinions about medication, faith and the church to cause shame for me surrounding taking my meds. We should never make others feels ashamed of getting the help they need. If anything we should applaud them.

In closing, I want to remind you that you are amazing, you are strong. To take medication or not is an individual decision. I believe that you have to gather all the information you need in order to make an informed decision about your mental health. Gathering the information might look like having a conversation with your primary doctor. In that conversation share openly about the symptoms you are having. Gathering information might look like making an appointment with a therapist and sharing openly(there’s that word again😉) about what is happening in your world and the symptoms you might be experiencing. In those conversations, they will share their thoughts about what it might be, they might even suggest you see a psychiatrist. Now remember, you are only gathering information to make the best decision concerning your mental health. At the end of the day, the decision is yours to make. Thank you for sharing this space with me. I value your presence here💚.

The Mask We Wear

I was looking at some of the photos my daughter has taken and edited of herself. I’ve always been captivated and intrigued by this one of her. Our daughter is absolutely beautiful but in this mask you can see slight glimpses of her beauty but some of her beauty is hidden behind the mask she is wearing. I must admit that the mask intrigues me. It makes me curious about who is behind the mask and what is she hiding.

I think that as a person who is learning to thrive even with a mental illness diagnosis of depression and anxiety I have worn many mask. I believe I had chosen to wear the mask of happiness because I felt afraid to let others know the deep sadness I faced daily. It felt like no matter what I did, there was this underlining sadness that was always there underneath the surface. It felt like I couldn’t quite be happy enough to make it go away. No matter how many times I put on the mask of happiness it couldn’t change the reality of what was happening in my heart. I truly believe that choosing to wear mask to cover up our mental health struggles are keeping us in a place of hiding and hiding leads to shame. So this post is to talk about the mask we wear to cover up our mental health struggles. I believe sometimes those mask hinder us from receiving the help and support that we truly need. I know hiding it feels safe, it makes you feel like your protecting others from your pain but really you might just be keeping yourself from the real support you need.

Please hear me…..YOU have absolutely positively NOTHING to be ashamed of because you might have some mental health struggles. Please don’t hide this struggle from those who love you and especially those you feel safe with. Sometimes we crack jokes, and make others laugh but inside were hurting. A pain you cannot put into words but it’s there. It’s just as real as the happiness you feel from time to time. Be you, the beautiful authentic, raw, real honest you. You are so brave, you are so strong and more than anything you are capable. I know it can be difficult to navigate the ups and downs of depression. Sometimes the medications seem to treat one part of it and cause difficulty in other parts of it. Just keep going, keep pushing through, keep fighting, keep raising your voice to advocate for your needs to be met. You are not hopeless, you are not worthless….you are worth the son of God’s life. Jesus gave his life for you. I truly believe that the crown of thorns that were placed on Jesus head was for mental health issues. I believe that he allowed that suffering so that we could find peace from our suffering. I hope you can find the courage to take off the mask around those you feel safe with. Be honest with them about where you are with your struggle. Share those thoughts that keep rushing around inside your head that you feel forbidden to share with anyone. Suicidal thoughts can be indicators to the deeper issue that is going on inside. If your depression has taken you into consistent thinking suicidal thoughts, it’s time to reach out for help. Do not allow yourself to suffer in silence. You don’t have to hide behind the mask of happiness, you can get the help you need and truly find a level of happiness. There is joy inside of you just waiting to be discovered.

Just remember the mask we wear to hide our mental health struggles that really need to be brought to the light only hinder us from the help we need. Mental health struggles are no match for who God created you to truly be. Our struggles are a part of us but they don’t define us. Our struggles don’t dictate our destiny. Keep going the light is just beyond the place you lay down the mask.

I see you and I am truly inspired by your courage, faith and strength.

The Fight with Anxiety

Proverbs 12:25

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad”.

I felt it creeping in one thought after the other. I tried to stop it before it spiraled completely out of control. I knew I was heading into the fight for my life once again. Anxiety does not give up easily, it fights you until you feel as if there is nothing left inside you to fight back. Anxiety fights you in the good and the tough times. When something good happens to you, anxiety comes to make you feel unworthy of that good thing. When something bad happens to you, anxiety comes to make you feel that you are deserving of that bad thing. At night anxiety keeps you wrestling for any amount of peace and calm so that you can rest and not just sleep. When you cannot find that peace, you fall asleep, but you do not rest, so you wake up feeling exhausted. The reason is that even in your sleep your thoughts are still going and going and going. You wake from sleep oftentimes and feel like you have been wrestling and fighting all night. When anxiety becomes too big inside of us, it finds a way to show up physically in us. It can show up with rapid heart rate, rapid breathing and sweating.

Anxiety is not a lack of faith issue. Anxiety is not a punishment for some type of sin you think you have done. It is not in your life because you are a bad person. There are many causes for anxiety but regardless of the cause for it, God can still heal it. I believe that for healing God uses a mirage of different ways to bring it to you but healing is healing. No matter if it is currently coming by exercise, relaxation tools, talk therapy, scripture declaration, prayer, fasting, medication or worship however God chooses to heal you, please don’t complain like Naaman in II Kings 5:11, he wanted to be healed but he wanted it a certain way. He wanted the prophet to lay his hand over the leprosy but that wasn’t the way his healing was coming to him. We cannot always decide how the process looks to healing but we can decide if we’re going to submit to it.

Anxiety is real and misunderstood a lot of times. It seems that as a society we judge harshly sickness that we can’t necessarily see then things we can. We can’t see anxiety but we can see the symptoms of it though. Did you know an estimated 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. That is around 4% of the global population. This was a shocker to discover that 62% of those suffering from anxiety disorders are female(170 million). It was also shocking to find that 264 million individuals worldwide have an anxiety disorder. Did you even know that 40 million adults in the US alone (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder. So, this is proof if you needed it that anxiety is real and you are absolutely not alone in your struggle. Please know that you are seen, known and loved by God. I believe that he sees us in our struggles and he cares so deeply for what we are walking through. He has not given up on you, he has not forgotten us. We are stronger than we allow ourselves to believe. Be encouraged anxiety does not define you but it definitely creates a strength in you that you didn’t even know you had. Please if you need help, don’t be afraid to seek the help you need. There is no shame in getting help when you can’t find your way through the hard places. I believe in you and I believe in God to see us through.

What is the truth?

“Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts”.

There are times when I am really struggling with depression and oftentimes it is hard for me to grasp what is really the truth over the lies screaming at me in those moments. My mind knows the truth but in those moments it feels like the lies beat away at that truth till I am left with what feels right in that moment but not truth. So, I began a practice when the spiral of lies began to drag me into the sadness once again and that is, I take a moment and ask myself, ”What is the truth?” When I do that it gives my mind a moment to consider what is the truth in that moment. My thoughts are something like this. I am having a moment with depression and I am feeling really sad right now, but my truth is that this moment is NOT forever. My truth is that I am stronger than this moment I am having. My truth is I might feel alone in this moment but I am not alone. This is not something that is easy to do because sometimes those moments are so deep, so painful that I am not able to get space freed up to think of those questions and that is where I find myself just saying,”Jesus, Jesus”, and I know he hears me.

Depression lies present as the truth and then they try and surround us with things that look like they support that truth. When I am really struggling the first lie that depression tells me is that no one cares about my struggle and they would be better if they were not having to see me suffer. The lies tell me that I am failing at life. I often see myself as a burden and find myself hiding my struggle rather than reaching out to those who love me and telling them I am having a tough time. I feel like I can do it on my own with medication, prayer and studying my bible without the connection of those who can walk with me. Oftentimes the fight to connect to others feels so scary and often I wonder if it is worth the fight, worth the pressure, worth the feelings of being uncomfortable. The fear of rejection sometimes honestly wins out and I loose the courage to reach out my hand for help. All the things I listed that I use such as prayer, studying my bible, medication, therapy and definitely music that lifts and places my heart in the presence of my Jesus they are all amazing. I must be honest in saying the other one is CONNECTION.

One of my greatest fears is connecting to others and letting them in to me. Letting them in to my heart, letting them see me in all of who I am and who I am not. Connection allows others to see you in that place between who you are fighting to get to and the person you are right in that moment, Oftentime that in between place is not pretty, it is messy but people assigned to walk with you can connect to you and walk right into that place with no judgement. See God connections come with God purpose and no matter how ugly it get, they are in it with you. Did you know that we tend to test those people the most? We test them to see if they will stay. We test them to see if they really care. We test them to see if they really love us. The connection does not happen over night but when it does our hearts find sweet rest in it. We stop fighting it and we just let go and trust God with our heart, knowing that this person is God sent to walk with us in this place.

So, what is the truth? The truth is that depression is real and it is painful but God is right there with us. The truth is you really are amazing and strong. You are not failing right now because your taking medications for anxiety and depression, you are winning. The truth is that no weapon formed against you will prosper, the weapon might be a mental health diagnosis but medication, prayer, therapy and eating right even exercising keeps it from prospering. The truth is the Lord is singing over you beautiful one. The Lord is cheering for you sweet one. Even in our darkest moments God is not pointing his finger at us and saying we disappoint him. In our darkest moments he is not turning his face away from us but honestly he is turning toward our pain. God is reaching into our pain desiring to touch us where we have felt like we could not be touched. My message that I pray you were able to get out of all of this is the truth is God has me and God has YOU. We must fight to hold on to that truth and we must rehearse it to ourselves over and over again.

I want to leave you with one last thought. John 8:32, “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. When I read this as I was writing this post I thought about how we limit this to a one time thing. I believe that in those moments we are struggling in the deep darkness of depression that we have to grab a strong hold of the truth that we KNOW and allow it to set us free. Every single time we have to grab a deep grip on the truth that we have within us and let that truth that we know set us free in those moments. I don’t believe that God is counting how many times we need the truth to set us free as long as we allow it to set us free. Notice that when your struggling and you start speaking truth to those lies they start shrinking in size and loosing their power over you, because the truth is setting you free, let it do it as many times as you need it. I am with you my friend and I am for you.

Prayer:

Lord we need your truth to be greater within us than the lies of the enemy. In those moments when the darkness seems more than we can bare, let the truth of what we know rise and set us free. Lord sometimes the truth of what we know gets so lost in the struggle, in the sadness but in those times please give us strength to fight. Thank you for loving us. Amen