This is a tough one to write, albeit a necessary one. I am a pastor. Husband. Father. I love Jesus and I am exited about what he is doing through me and in me. Yet there are two issues that I have dealt with my whole life. ADD and anxiety. I became aware of them pretty early on in life. The anxiety especially manifested itself in two ways:
Dark, lonely places.
I always say God has a sense of humor, because he called me to be a pastor, which requires:
Next Steps Young Adult Training
Public speaking (a lot)
Traveling and staying in dark, alone places. (also a lot)
I must confess that traveling was very difficult for me for the longest time to the point where I couldn’t fall asleep because of the anxiety. In my first sermon the anxiety was so bad I had 10 pages of written material yet I spoke for only 5 minutes. My girlfriend who was sitting behind me was so impressed that she broke up with me soon after.
The reason I wanted to share this experience is that many times leaders and members struggle with mental health issues and are given terrible counsel. Which makes them deal with it by themselves, which only acerbates the problem. Here are some thoughts that may be helpful in your journey.
Counseling helped. Sometimes you can’t just pray depression away, or anxiety, or _______________ (fill your mental health challenge here). “Pray harder” may not be the only solution, in fact when you pray and the problem continues it can create false guilt and shame. Go see a counselor.
Prayer helped. There is in fact a calming effect in prayer. Talking to God is a blessing.
Doing my job regardless helped. In spite of the anxiety, I continued to speak and travel. Since fear is a prerequisite to courage, I trusted God’s calling more than I trusted my issues.
Taking to people helped. Since there is a stigma attached to mental health issues it is sometimes hard to open up. Yet when we share our stories other people come up and say “that is my story too!” Vulnerability breeds community.
I want to pray for you if you are dealing with anything. Just write to me or post your prayer request and I will pray for each one of your needs. But whatever you do, seek help. You are worthy. You are loved. You are special.