Creating Healthy Social Media Boundaries

Social Media can be a dark place, sucking you into a world you wouldn’t otherwise have entered. It can also be a positive place to interact with the people you care about and engage in positive community. It’s hard to find the balance but it can be done.

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What Does the Bible Say About Mental Illness? Part 3

For over a decade I lived thinking I suffered internal anguish because I just didn’t have enough faith in the power of prayer. However, in 2009 I sank into a deep depression and finally got to a breaking point. I was working with high school girls through CRU, formerly Campus Crusade for Christ–an international ministry focused on evangelism and discipleship. My director sat down with me and kindly explained that I was in no state to be mentoring young women. I needed to step away from field ministry and seek healing. 

He was right. And for the first time I was broken enough to face myself and accept help. I was desperate.

It was the end of the school year and I was scheduled to spend the summer taking seminary classes with fellow staff members followed by the biannual all-staff conference. Two women were appointed to come alongside me in my darkness over that summer. As the summer went on I was encouraged to seek medical help and to find a Christian counselor.

After years of struggle, I finally found my way out of my depression and reconciled my brokenness before the Lord. I was freed from thinking I needed to be the perfect Christian to be happy and drew closer to the Lord.

In Part 1 of this series I discussed what the Bible says about illness and how mental illness plays into that, pointing to King David and Job as examples. Part 2 covers the distinction between mental health and mental illness, explaining how the Bible uses the word “anxiety” as an example. Here I will explore how to give and get help for mental illness.

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What Does the Bible Say About Mental Illness? Part 2

“You are a success!” my psychiatrist exclaimed. “You are a success and I don’t see that very often.”

My mental health hasn’t been this good in a very long time. Apparently this is uncommon for a manic-depressive compounded with an anxiety disorder.

“Mental health” is a common phrase used in our society. Like our physical health and spiritual health, our mental health is an important aspect of our well-being. However, a distinction should be made between “mental health,” and “mental illness.” Caring for our mental health is not the same as treating a mental illness. Caring for our mental health includes things like getting enough sleep, taking breaks throughout your day, and surrounding yourself with a supportive community. Caring for a mental illness means having a psychiatrist to prescribe and monitor your medication, meeting with a therapist, and having positive coping strategies.

Bipolar, or manic-depression, is a complex illness requiring multiple medications. Lithium, the most prescribed drug for my illness, presented severe side effects. I asked to be taken off of Lithium. While many psychiatrists wouldn’t consider this, I was so thankful that she listened to me and found an alternative. After many months, we found the right combination and dosages of medication and I have my life back.

In Part 1, I suggested King David and Job may have had circumstantial mental illnesses. For other people, mental illness is a chronic condition. The Bible, while not specifically naming mental illnesses, does provide circumstantial evidence of mental illness based on literal translations of the Greek and Hebrew vocabulary. We know that Jesus welcomed all and healed all who came to him. Including the mentally ill.

Now we’re going to talk about the difference between “mental health” and “mental illness.”

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What Does the Bible Say About Mental Illness? Part 1

Nothing. 

The Bible says nothing about mental illness. It also says nothing about cancer. Or heart disease. Or alzheimers. The Bible rarely calls out specific illnesses. Death from illness is mentioned, but not the cause.

Back then, people didn’t know what we now know about illnesses because they didn’t have the technological advances we have today. In fact, we’re still discovering “new” illnesses and causes of illness.

Why does it even matter what illnesses are in the Bible? For example, what illnesses does Jesus heal? Illness is illness and Jesus performed countless miracles and healed so many. Imagine hundreds of people gathered around Jesus waiting for their chance to be healed! I can’t even begin to envision what that was like. One third of Jesus’ ministry was healing, so it matters greatly that Jesus healed, but it matters little what he was healing. 

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Social Anxiety in a Pandemic

I walked into the grocery store with a bare face. I felt everyone staring at me as I searched for other maskless people to make sure I wasn’t the only one. I was surprised at the relief I felt to be rid of my mask, but also self-conscious after being required to wear one for over a year. 

Being fully vaccinated and the mask mandate lifted, I am no longer required to wear a mask in most places. Freedom. There is nothing political in my viewpoint about masks. This is about my social anxiety disorder.

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Anxiety Triggers

I’m in it. My chest is caving in on my lungs. My head is spinning. Every time I close my eyes I see the gruesome sight and then my mind rushes into a fury of terror. My blood rushes hot through my body. My breathing becomes rapid. Then chills run down my arms like lizards running across sidewalks on a muggy Florida afternoon. It’s summer and I’m sitting here with a sweater on.

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What is a “Sunday Christian”?

In my testimony I use the term “Sunday Christians” when talking about my childhood. When my mom read that, she didn’t know what to think about it. Was this a negative thing? We ended up having a good discussion on how we grew up and evolved as a family in our spiritual growth. Do I think being a “Sunday Christian” is bad? No, I do not. Here’s how I see it.

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Created for Community

Jesus lived in community. He surrounded himself with the twelve disciples and many others, such as Lazerus, Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene, just to name a few that come to mind. Sure, he was their rabbi, their leader. But he needed them, too. They assisted him in his ministry (Luke 9:1-6). They gathered with him for the last supper (Luke 22:14). They were with him in the Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed in distress (Matthew 36-38).

Jesus lived in community because God made us for community. He made us to bear one another’s burdens – to support one another in our trials and to restore each other when we falter (Galatians 6:1-10). He made us to serve Him through loving and supporting our neighbors (Matthew 22:37-40).

Part of loving one another is by walking alongside each other through the good times and bad. We need to surround ourselves with like minded individuals in order to walk this out.

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When Christian Leaders Sin

The church we used to attend has been through a lot. Several years ago there was a scandal after a pastor admitted to having an affair with another staff member. It was a difficult thing for this large church to navigate. It was plastered all over the news. A few months later that pastor committed suicide which, as you can imagine, made things worse. This is not the first time something like this has happened in a church and, sadly, it won’t be the last.

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The Medication Paradox

“Boing, boing, boing!” rings the alarm on my phone. 

“Mom, it’s time to take your meds!” my four-year-old exclaims.

That specific ringtone chosen as my medication reminder has forever ingrained in our minds the utter importance of my taking my medication. On time. Because we all know what happens if I don’t. 

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