One of the pinnacles of a life changed by grace is just that–grace. Yet, when someone struggles deeply with anxiety or depression grace can seem very far away indeed.
I know who I am in Christ. I know that I am a beloved Child of the King, that I am declared righteous and holy. I know that I have been bought with a price and that nothing I do or don’t do can take away from my value as a person or earn my acceptance from God. I am already accepted.
I know that the Holy Spirit lives and works in me. I know that He strengthens, heals, comforts, encourages, empowers and sanctifies. I walk with my Lord in the power of the Spirit and have great victories.
I also have great struggles. I have had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Severe Generalized Anxiety my whole life. When I became a disciple of Christ, He began to free me from the bondage of fear–and I am still free from that. Yet, biologically, I am prone to the illness still. I want to talk about this because I think it’s important to be in conversation about something that so many people today struggle with. Those same people are told that if they pray and trust in the Lord then they will experience freedom from those illnesses. I think we experience victory, but not always freedom.
If I had any other kind of mental/intellectual disability Autism, Down-syndrome, Dyslexia, Cognitive Delay– I would have less of a time trying to get support from fellow believers. The methods of treatment are not chemical, and therefore are ‘okay’. Now, as a person with a family history of Mental Illness, I have radically changed my approach to healing. Medically speaking, I have a chemical imbalance in an under developed brain. I was born premature and the problem solving centres of my brain are over active. This leads to over thinking and an over production of anxiety inducing chemicals. To prevent those chemicals from creating a flight or fight response over seemingly inconsequential events I have been prescribed medication that allows for the positive naturally produced relaxing chemicals to “hang out” a little longer and do their job.
Yet, I feel guilty. I feel like somehow taking medication is not trusting God to be my strength to get me through it all. I feel like I am giving up and giving into a lie –even though I would not feel this way if I had cancer and needed chemotherapy, had diabetes and needed insulin or had heart disease and needed blood pressure medication. Somehow, as a person with a radiant relationship with Christ, I have sometimes debilitating anxiety. I obsess over how I must be a disappointment to God for struggling with it as I do, then pray repentance for believing that lie, then feel guilty….rinse repeat.
I am wondering if victory in these situations is freedom. Learning that I have a broken body that is of no fault of my own, I was born with a brain that doesn’t do what it is supposed to–is a victory. Truth IS freedom. The truth is who I am. The truth is, where the Spirit of the Lord is , there is freedom–freedom from shame. I am a Child of the King, redeemed, broken but made whole. The truth is , the Holy Spirit is my comforter and that sometimes our bodies need medicine to make them work right. Sometimes it’s antibiotics, sometimes it’s insulin, and sometimes it’s neurological. The truth is, there is nothing spiritually superior about just getting by. I am tired of just getting by, just trying harder to be well, just making it to the end of each day, just pretending I am not carrying a huge load of useless fear.
My brain needs medicine, I am going to take it, God can heal my brain if He wants to. So far He hasn’t, and I wonder if it’s not specifically for the reason of reaching people just like me who think they are too broken to bother coming to the cross.
I have joy. I have peace. I have security. It’s like being at war within myself. Sometimes the battle is too much for me, those days I lean on Him more than ever and remind myself from the beginning what is true.
**Reposted from the archives.