Faith, Mental Health

A welcoming church for battling anxiety

I was reading the book Quiet by Susan Cain (affiliate link) and she talked about how church isn’t really designed for introverts. She brought up many good points, and as I read that section, I began to think of how many times church also isn’t built for people with anxiety.

You see, when my anxiety began to ramp up, I had to drastically change my life in order to keep living it. Only having so many spoons (so much energy) to give and all that. Which factors in to all the things I weigh when attending church (or really, just about any gathering of people. But for the purposes of this blogpost, church).

Disclaimer: This list is not intended to be representative of ALL people who battle anxiety, nor is it intended as a demand that all churches offer these items. That’s not realistic or beneficial. Every church offers different things, which is good because every individual has different needs. And most importantly: the answer is not one size fits all, but about digging into relationship to learn what helps and what hinders.

Instead, this is to show the myriad of seemingly small things that make a HUGE difference in serving the people around you. Perhaps this will open the discussion of how churches and gatherings can be more inviting for those who battle mental illness.

So without further ado….

Frivolous-seeming items that I consider at church, not for the spiritual aspect, but for my own mental health:

  1. Drinks being allowed in the sanctuary: Chai lattes are my liquid calm. I’ve written all about it before, but basically, a combination of the cozy warmth and the placebo effect makes it calming for anxiety-indiucing situations.
  2. Seating isn’t dictated: I need to sit near the back on an end seat ideally, for a quick escape, or at least so I don’t feel trapped. That “everyone come to the front” thing terrifies me. Worse, twice at church events I’ve had an usher ask me to move into the center of the row to make it easier for those who arrive late, which I can understand from their perspective, but I came early to have the seat that I need. (This ironically makes me think of the parable in Luke 14:7-11 of “taking the worst seat at the table so you can be honored and invited to a good seat”.) A church that doesn’t bring up seating is best for me – which usually means a church that is full enough to not be spread too thin, but not so full as to be packed in to every last seat.
  3. Chairs, not pews: With pews, people can crowd your space. With chairs, I can be a little more certain that my personal bubble remains in tact.
  4. No congregational parts that everyone “just knows” except me: Lots of churches you have to know to recite a certain thing at a certain time or stand or sit or whatever at a certain time. Ritual. It’s a beautiful thing. But, if it’s not a ritual I’m already familiar with, if I don’t already know those queues, I’m not ready to learn them. I need to stick to the structures I already know.
  5. Punctual/structured, know what to expect: In contradiction to the above, churches that switch it up every time or start really late or the “don’t have a plan” wing-it stuff… Panic! I’m a paradox, okay?
  6. Small groups stay small with consistent people, location, time, punctual: Related to the above, I need to know what to expect. Same people, same place, sticking to the times we’ve set. Deviations from the plan are gonna take up a spoon (my energy).
  7. More than one-stall bathrooms: Y’all, one-stall bathrooms are hard to go cry or have a panic attack in. Bathrooms are the safe place, until they’re not because there’s a line of people outside waiting for this one stall and they KNOW you’ve been in there for 10 minutes and either you or your bowels are in distress. Multiple stalls give the freedom to stick around if needed with people still cycling through the line to not figure out you’ve been in there forever trying to avoid panic.
  8. People arrive early for chat rather than chatting after service: I don’t have the spoons (energy) after service to stick around. That’s why I show up early, when I still have the energy to attempt socializing.
  9. No welcome/greet time midservice: Please do not ask me to welcome people around me during service. Both the introvert and the panic in me can’t handle it. There’s no time to connect with the person on a meaningful level, & I can only interact with so many strangers in a day before panic sets in, so this is a real bummer of a way to hit that quota. I heard of a church that takes a break midservice for people to refill their coffee – that naturally builds in casual conversation without putting pressure on anyone to awkwardly approach another and act like instant bffs. I think it’d be cool if more churches implemented that model.
  10. Loose dress code: I need comfy calming clothes for my bad days – if I have to be fancy or if I have to wear jeans/tshirt to fit in with the crowd, that’s not enough. (Note: sorry to break it to you, but jeans are not relaxing material.) Also, I try “stacking” my out-and-about anxiety-inducing activities to better utilize the small energy I have to give each day, so if I can show up in gym clothes with a tunic over them, even better.
  11. Lots going on during worship: I imagine this one especially doesn’t apply to everyone. For me, if there’s a strong bass or drumbeat, or if there’s a flag waving, or a dancer, or a loud harmony, or a painter or violin or something unique – all the better for me. I need something to hone in on that keeps me grounded, and somehow, those things do it.
  12. Open style of worship: Where people are welcome to sit, stand, cry, kneel, sing or not, whatever. I can’t always stand. I sometimes will cry. If I’m the only one sitting and crying, I won’t exactly feel like it’s an appropriate atmosphere for me.
  13. Kind theology on topics of healing and demonic oppression: If I’m going to bring up anxiety and be told I have demons or be told I don’t have enough faith, that’s gonna be rough. Note: The latter has come up in every church setting I’ve been in, but at the very least I try to avoid it when possible.
  14. Has Kleenexes, can handle expressions of emotion: Once again, sometimes I’m gonna be sobbing. This helps.
  15. Meetings don’t go past 7:30pm: You laugh now, but wait til you ask me to hang out in the evening. Then you’ll give me “the look” I’ve grown so familiar with. Sleep, super early sleep, helps me manage my anxiety that night and the next day. I know, I’m like a grandma, (my friends who know Japanese say “obaa-chan mitai” which literally means “like a grandma”). But if society wants to put up with me the next morn, it’s gotta be that way.
  16. Less about doing, more about being: I know, both are important. Absolutely. But if the church is constantly pushing socialization and volunteer opportunities, I can only spread myself so thin and interact with so many people before I give out. I want involvement, but in manageable chunks.
  17. People come and go through the service: If everyone sits/stands in their place the entire service, I’m gonna feel real uncomfortable with my leaving for the bathroom (for “regular” reasons or for panic, both happen frequently) or leaving the building early because my anxiety can’t take it that day. When other people take bathroom breaks, take their kids in and out, leave early for a lunch meeting, go grab coffee midservice – anything to normalize the coming and going during the service – I feel more free to do the same without being conspicuous or judged as a heathen or whatever.
  18. Honest lyrics, not just happy happy: Ya know that song “You’re never gonna let me down”? Ughhh, sorry ’bout it, but God is gonna let ya down at some point. Because His ways are higher and all that, we’re not always gonna see eye to eye with Him. And I’m all about the happy happy joy joy lyrics in moderation, but if our worship can also acknowledge the depths of suffering and grief and God’s presence through it, I’m gonna feel a whole lot more like I can relate to the content and worship and a whole lot more like I’m not an imposter Christian for not feeling happy all the time.
  19. Avoiding too much of the “it’s not about your comfort” lectures: It’s not. I know that, and I do need reminded of that sometimes. But I also spend countless hours of my life stretching outside my comfort zone to do seemingly small things because they’re good for me. And I think of the verses that talk about not being a barrier to those approaching God (Matthew 23:4, 13), the seemingly moral standards that actually have nothing to do with holiness and can hinder it instead. Those are the things I pay attention to for my own life, like this list here, and I hope to remove any barriers I put up for others as well.

Bonus idea that I’ve only seen once but I wish every church would adopt: Over the past year or two or something, my pastor has begun emailing congregants every week right before the weekend, just a super short email of who’s leading worship, what we’ll be talking about, and any special events that are going on that week (communion, potluck, outreach, etc.). Not some big professional marketing email or anything, but something quick and personable. And remember: I want to know what to expect, to mentally prepare myself or whatever. So this new thing he started, the bomb-diggety. 10/10 would recommend.

Disclaimer: This list is not intended to be representative of ALL people who battle anxiety, nor is it intended as a demand that all churches offer these items. Every church offers different things, which is good because every individual has different needs. Rather than a critique, I actually hope this mostly calls attention to ways that seemingly small things in the church are serving individuals in large ways. In the meantime, if this also opens a dialogue of how churches can serve their attendees in new ways, I am happy with that as well.

So, what about you? Are there seemingly small things that really serve you in a big way at church? Is there something you see a need for in your church that you can offer? Are you providing a safe space for individuals to discuss small changes you’ve never seen a need for? Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Central IL, Faith

Karitos 2019

Yes, I’m telling you about something that happened this summer, but #throwbackthursday mmkay? 🙂

For five years now, I’ve been attending the Karitos Christian creative arts conference in the greater Chicago area. This year it was in Streator IL, closer than ever to my house as it’s usually much further north.

(I’m pictured with author Olivia J. Bennett and flagger/author Kim Kouski. Check out Olivia’s book A Cactus in the Valley and Kim’s fantasy novel Hidden Secrets (those are affiliate links – I may receive a portion of sales).

I’ve written past posts about Karitos and what I’m learning there, but here’s overall what keeps bringing me back:

  • a gathering of creatives
  • creating together in all art forms
  • worshipping God and figuring out how their art fits into that

You can find that first one a number of places. The other 2 are harder to come by. If you can find a place that combines the things you love, go.

Photography by Kim Kouski on our way to the event

You can find a thousand writers conferences, but one that includes dancers and visual artists and actors and filmmakers and musicians and…. All those together feed off of each other into an amazing creative experience.

And, while I don’t write within the Christian genre, it’s beautiful to find a place where my giftings can contribute to my faith community and my worship.

And now, a couple exciting milestones of mine with this year’s event:

A couple amazing things happened for me personally this year.

The past 3 years I’ve been assisting with the Literary Arts department, and as of last year, I’m the department head for Literary Arts. This was my first Karitos that I was responsible for making Literary Arts workshops happen, and it was a delight to see it all turn out. To be able to step into ministry in a way that uses my passion and giftings is such a privilege.

And the other thing: Last year’s Karitos, I took Angel’s selfpublishing workshop. This year, my book was in the Karitos bookstore alongside hers. We got a photo to document our excitement…

Check out Angel’s devotional, Love’s Great Design (affiliate link).

So that was my experience at this year’s Karitos. And we’re already on to planning the next! Maybe Karitos 2020 will have you in it? 😉

Faith, for the Creatives

But I don’t have an opinion…

In my new job, I am surrounded by opinionated Christians. Some are homeschoolers. Some are pro-lifers. Some are politically incorrect, some pro gun rights, some against homosexual marriage. Everyone is not every single one of these things, in fact, I’m sure there are progressive Christians here that defy many of the stereotypes I just threw out. We are not one denomination, and our statement of faith is very general to encourage diverse beliefs within the term “Christian.” But the fact remains that I am surrounded by strong opinions.

And while I’m going about my workday and hearing anger over various non-Christian “agendas” or “Hitlery” or hot topic issues, my mind is screaming “You can’t just say that!!!!!” But actually, they can. And it makes me feel like I’m missing out because I don’t have an opinion. Or I do have an opinion, but I sure am not about to voice it in such a way that assumes they all share my beliefs.

And I have to remind myself that’s a good thing. That I can’t write culturally relevant worldview articles very often. That I tread lightly on controversial subjects. That I play devil’s advocate (and am somehow not headed straight for hell.)

I used to want to be blunt, dishing out hard truth every which way, and if people didn’t like to hear it, that’s their problem. I even lived that way for awhile. And we need those people, but I believe we need others too.

I’m a writer. And not a worldview or politics or controversial writer. We need those people, but I’m not them.

I’m a person who tries to understand and dig deep into people and perspectives. I want to be an open door, a listening ear, to the misfits and forgotten and ignored especially.

Sometimes I miss that mark of course. Sometimes I’m too caught up in my own problems. But if you’re a writer or a Christian without a loud opinion about every controversial topic surrounded by people telling you to speak up…. I just wanted to share that you’re not alone. We need both types of people. We need the preachers and the counselors both. Which are you? bring about a better world *that* way.

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Faith, Mental Health

While I was doing other things, life.

“Your life gets lived while you’re busy d0ing other things.” –Rizzoli & Isles

I’m pretty sure formulaic crime dramas aren’t supposed to be inspiration for writing. But I finished Gilmore Girls and need some feel-good TV female relationships. And every so often a certain quote just hits you.

I don’t always make the right entrepeneurial-dreamer choices. I watch TV too much and blame it on needing relaxation time or – the writers’ perfect scapegoat – research 🙂 I don’t always know how to balance my need to push myself and exercise self-discipline with my need to monitor my anxiety levels and say no and rest. But while I’m figuring all this out, my life is being lived anyhow. TV shows and all.

While I’ve been busy figuring it all out, I’ve grown bitter and skeptical, in general but of the church specifically. How bad is that! A professing Christian who loves the church doesn’t know how to just be there anymore. And I’m trying to fix that. To remind myself that God has put me in a safe place.

But while I’ve been busy figuring it all out, I’ve been questioning, good questioning. Who is God really, beyond Christian tradition and deep in the Bible. Who does God say that I am? What is my sin and what is my sickness and what needs deliverance? It’s not easy questions, I certainly haven’t found all the answers. But it’s a reminder that God loves disciples who don’t have it all figured out.

 

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Faith

Christianity is kinda like vampirism

 

In defense of vampires….we’re all kinda them too

The mythology of vampirism is that they’re humans turned immortal surviving off of the blood (life) of others. We can see why this is unScriptural. I would not argue that this creature is holy and pure by any means. But there is a Christian perspective to this mythology that can bring clarity and depth to these stories.

A new way of seeing the Romans 6 struggle: Just as humans daily have a struggle between their sin nature and the glory God has designed us for, vampires have a struggle between their vampirism and their humanity. Like Christians working to restore what was lost in the Fall, vampires strive to restore the humanity they lost. You see, vampires for the most part have NOT chosen this lifestyle; like humans are born with a sinful nature, vampires are forced into a vampiric nature.

Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider
The best Christian vampire book I’ve found. Read it!

My favorite vampire fix would be Vampire Diaries. On the tv show, some vampires drink animal blood, some drink “fresh” human blood, from the vein. Others drink human blood but only from “blood bags,” taking from blood donation locations and hospitals. Some vampires have embraced this part of their new life, while others are wracked by shame and contempt for the very nature they can’t seem to escape.

Each of these “dietary” choices come with their own dilemmas at different times. The shame and guilt of breaking your own standards. The problem of stealing blood from hospitals. The manipulation of drinking from the vein. And what if the strength of animal blood is not enough to fight off an enemy, and the friend tells you that you should drink from their vein – is it okay then, to save your friends? You see what I’m getting at – no longer black and white issues, but daily areas that appear so grey at times.

It’s easy to say “Thou shall not steal” and the set standards of living for God. The day-to-day living gets harder to see where the black and white is. There’s a part in [the non-vampire fantastical tale] “The Land of Stories” where the brother lies to his teacher to help his sister. The narrator says “it was the wrong thing to do as a student, but the right thing to do as a brother.” I won’t say whether that is justified in God’s sight or not. I’m just saying getting into the gnitty-gritty of life, sin gets a little confusing. And vampirism shows this struggle with a new perspective – a little more distanced, but also a little deeper.

*If you enjoyed this post, I’ve also written a Christian defense of the Fantasy genre, Horror genre, and Romance genre, as well as a defense of fiction in general.

 

Is it weird to say vampires are relatable?

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Faith

How to Break Up with your Church

 
I have been on the giving and receiving end of a “church break-up.” I would even say I’ve probably been a part of the cause of a “church break-up.” I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some good and not-so-good experiences to pull from.
 
This isn’t going to cover if/when you should break up with your church. There are plenty of articles on that you can look up if you’re not sure. Once you’ve decided to break up with your church though, here’s some recommended steps. This of course doesn’t apply to every situation and every community, but hopefully this will give you some steps in the right direction.
 
 

Step 1: Tell Church Leadership Why & When

 
Depending on the size of the church and your involvement, this may or not be the pastor. If this is a mega-church where you’ve never spoken to the pastor in your life, you may not want/need to take that step.
 

  • What leader knows you by name?
  • What leader will notice your absence?
  • This person may be the pastor, pastor’s wife, small-group leader, and/or the head of a department you volunteer with

 
Arrange a time to meet individually and explain your departure – the why and when.
 
 

Step 2: Tell the Pastor Any Grievances Against the Church (if applicable)

 
Really I hope your reason for leaving is because of some exciting new adventure awaiting and no hard feelings, but that is of course not always the case.
 
This part is never easy. I would hope you have already discussed with church leadership any problems you may have with the church. But if you haven’t, you definitely need to. This isn’t time for accusations – it’s time to make them aware of anything driving committed members away.
 
Here’s the most important part: Don’t just tell the leader from step 1. You should tell the pastor, if not in person then at least via letter. A pastor really will want to be aware of any negative experiences the church has played a role in. No one is perfect, no church is perfect, and church leadership wants to be aware of the atmosphere and address major issues.
 
 

Step 3: Tell Your Church Friends at least the Basics

 
I have seen firsthand the pain of hearing through the grapevine that someone left the church. This is a simple step, almost forgettable, which I think is mostly how it happens. Sure you probably won’t tell everyone, but think ahead about who you will tell. 
 

Don’t let your friends be left in the lurch, just finding you gone one Sunday and everyone knows but them. Tell anyone you consider yourself close to. Don’t ghost your friends.

 

 

What do you think?

I’m not church leadership, so I’m sure there’s a different perspective there. And really, I’m sure there’s a different perspective from many church-goers, so what are your steps to breaking up with a church? Comment below to let me know 🙂

 

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Faith, for the Bookworms, Showcasing other Creatives

5 Books for Christian Artists

Being an artist is difficult. Adding Christian to that title puts a whole other spin on things. Here’s 5 Christian books I recommend for artists.

 

To build your artist brand:51fn4UIx9kL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
“Crafting Your Brand”

Matt Tommey

This book is perfect for anyone looking to make their art a business. Branding is especially big right now, even though it’s been around forever. Matt Tommey’s book introduces readers to the basics of branding, while also tackling some of the lies we believe about creativity clashing with business.

 

 

 

To study artists in Scripture & apply to your life:
“Unlocking the Heart of the Artist” 51GfacF2pPL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
Matt Tommey

 

Every artist should read this book. Every artist! This book studies the origins of artistry in the Bible and presents the lies (and truths!) that are prominent in that. Find your place in the Kingdom with chapters on community, prophetic voice, spiritual discipline, and co-laboring with God.

 

 

 

 

To find your life calling:512Q3lH0uqL._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_
“Chazown”
Craig Groeschel

For those artists (and non-artists) who are still unsure what their calling is in life, Craig Groeschel’s book has a very practical approach to discovering it through looking at your gifts, values, and experiences. Once you pin down your vision and calling, there’s still a bulk of chapters on next steps and living it out. Don’t miss this book!

 

 

 

To get a second chance at your career:51KE+8bOHwL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_
“Do-Over”
Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff’s Do-Over is perfect for those who feel they’re stuck in a rut, not moving forward with their dream. Maybe you’re an artist on the side with a day-job that drains the life out of you. Maybe you’re living what you thought your dream was and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Whatever the case, Do Over gives you the chance to do just that – call “Do Over” and start your dream anew. Acuff gives the tools to get you right where you want to be and start living life with your dream at the center.

 

 

To conquer your artistic vices: 51g2xDQtM6L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_
“The Heart of the Artist”
Rory Noland

Not to be confused with Matt Tommey’s book, Rory Noland also wrote a book about the Heart of the Artist. This one centers on the character struggles that artists tend to face – Perfectionism, Poorly Handling Criticism, Jealousy, Overly Emotional, and the like. There’s also an excellent chapter on how to Lead Artists, because we are a difficult to finagle bunch, ha! Excellent book for any ministry team or any artist individually to work through.

Faith

How to Retain Youth in Church

Questions aren’t the enemy.

The more I hear from those jaded and disillusioned by the church, those who love some idea of God but not the church’s, the more I feel the need to say that questions aren’t the enemy.

Can we just admit that we don’t know what we’re talking about?

We follow some biblical rules and we ignore others because they’re outdated or cultural or whatever reason we give. We skip over passages that don’t have an easy answer or don’t fit with our worldview. We add rules that the Bible never talks about. Can we admit that everything we do doesn’t make sense? And that’s okay. We could be wrong, we’re still figuring it out, and we can disagree on many things and still be brothers and sisters.

We can’t look down on those who question, because they supposedly have less faith or revelation or are further from God or drawn by sin and pleasures of this world.

Questioning the church – that’s not a sin. That’s not even necessarily temptation. That’s the first step to creating a personal faith that can’t be shaken when outside the church building.

I think of the many people who asked Jesus questions, who didn’t understand, and I’m pretty sure they made it to heaven just fine.

The church needs to be a place open to questions, to dialogue, not shying away from anyone who questions the norm. We don’t have to change our minds – though we might on some things – but I think we need to dialogue without judgement of the inquisitive.

 

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Faith

The Courage of Generosity

A friend gave me a devotional by Patricia Raybon for Christmas. I’m not much of a devotional person, I’m more of a jump-to-my-own conclusions person haha. But this devotional has been a nice calm to the beginning of my day.

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The week on Generosity really hit me. Messages on finances really get to me, maybe because I’ve struggled in trusting  in the past, or because I had great faith in the past, or because I love giving especially when it seems like it’s the most foolish decision ever. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect in this area; in fact the moments of faith for this are few and far between. But I think this topic is especially pertinent to creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs who have no guarantee of regular income…yikes!

 

Despite my on-again off-again study of this topic, Raybon had a couple amazing points I hadn’t thought about that change my perspective on giving.

 

  1. Generosity is about courage more than about giving. It’s not about giving where it’s easy, it’s about trusting that you can continually give lavishly and have enough. No matter your income. She pointed out that all of nature survives off an endless cycle of giving…how beautiful!
  2.  
     

  3. Referencing John 3:16, Raybon noted that we should give as God gives. Did He only give to people He could trust with His gift? No. He gave His son to the “ungrateful, selfish, sinful, disappointing world.” I want to give like that, not constantly worrying about what a person would do with it, just giving with trust and hope. “When they’re at their worst, we can give our best.” Not taking into account whether the receiver will be responsible with the gift, but taking into account the need and having grace.

 

Here’s to growing in generosity, faith, courage, trust, and grace as God continues to work on my heart.

 

 

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Faith, Mental Health, Musings

Karitos Retreat 2015

 

“Hey! How do you get out of here?”

 

“We don’t. We’re trapped,” I wanted to say.

 
 
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I never intended to write this blogpost. The title, yes; the content, no. Karitos 2015 was supposed to be a lovely artistic post about all the techniques and spiritual life applications from a gathering of creatives. It wasn’t supposed to be this mess.

But Karitos 2015 wasn’t a conference, it was a retreat. The classes were designed to delve into the creative’s mind and heart, not their skills and art. So unplanned by me, I was faced head-on with my anxiety, that thing that I shouldn’t blog about again so soon because I’d just finished telling everyone about it.

 
 

I sat outside the writing room, curled up, begging no one to notice. Hoping that the class had fallen for it when I picked up my phone and ran out, as if I had a call though there was no ringing. And I breathed and cried and hoped to God this wasn’t who I am. Then the girl came up – limping along in an uncertain scurry as if something was chasing her. I’m a mess, but she doesn’t seem too great either. Desperate. I saw it in her eyes. She asked how to exit the building – “How do you get out of here?” – and I told her to turn left and then right. What I wanted to say is “There’s no escape.” That’s what it feels like, and I wonder if she felt it too.

 
 

“You cannot manage a life of lies.” — Matt Tommey, #Karitos2015

 
 

It struck me. I know. I know that all this pent-up anxiety and fear and panic, it’s lies I somehow believed at the core, that somehow own me at the most inopportune times. And I knew that managing, what I’d been doing for years, wasn’t enough. I would fight this.

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But a fight doesn’t look pretty. A fight doesn’t mean as soon as I know the answer it’s all over. And I think that’s what the Christian world pretends, that enlisting in the fight means it’s all perfectly won that instant. Physical illnesses the church can understand if someone believes in healing but isn’t healed. But mental illness and the like, somehow the problem is that the person hasn’t been preached to enough.

 
 
 

In the few short weeks I’ve had a problem large enough to be on medication, to speak out about it, consult others, I’ve been told so many things I never need to hear.

 
 

“It’s just fear and lies. Let go of the lie and embrace the truth.”

I hear:

“You’re wrong, you’re believing so many wrong things, and if you just believed right like me, you’d be okay.”

 
 

“Be glad you can deal with this now before you’re married with kids. That adds so much more difficulty to bring that into marriage.”

I hear:

“You’re not whole enough for marriage yet, you’re not enough for someone else to take your problems.”

 
 
 

“Take your focus off yourself and praise Jesus. The devil can’t stand praise and will leave.”

I hear:

“You’re so self-centered with your anxiety, unlike us who are able to focus on God just fine.”

 
 
 

Those with anxiety don’t need a sermon, an answer. We have that bottled up within us, terrified to face it yet seeing it every. single. day. When my emotions are in a panic, my thoughts are overrun with dread, and my body experiences chest pain or twitching, the anxiety has taken my mind, emotion, and body, and in that state what more to a person is there? The anxiety is me, it’s all me, is what I believe. And all the while as I scream at myself “BE REASONABLE, AMY” nothing changes. Though it seems controllable, I have no control. Though it seems like it’s all my own doing, I can’t do anything but let it pass. I’m a prisoner to it. I’m fighting, but it’s not me. It’s not me. And that’s what I remind myself every. single. day.
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And if anyone feels this way, I just want to take a moment to say what I most need to hear: You’re strong! I see that. That the victory is slow does not mean it’s any less. I hope healing and freedom is instantaneous for you, but if it is not, know this: That you get back up every time to fight, you. are. strong. Keep going. And I’m with you in it.

 
 
 
 

You Are Strong

 
 

I won the battle at Karitos 2015. My unexpected panic attack where things should have been safe, it made me stronger. I’d like to say I won everything, but I’m still getting there. I opened up. I pressed forward. And I will keep on going.

 
 
 

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