NOTE: During the month of May you will be reading blog articles from various members of our mental health team at church. Our desire is to initiate conversations about mental health and raise awareness. This week’s article is by Tena Moyer. She is married to Martin and they have adult children. Both Martin and Tena are two of the most approachable and encouraging people in our church. They have opened their lives to others in refreshing and candid ways that model Gospel-shaped transparency.
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to allow myself to be known. Over these last years I have come to learn how important it is to open the door of my life to others. This has been a long, hard fought process. Still is. Speaking out loud to someone those things that frighten, weigh down and rule our thoughts seems unthinkable and absolutely not an option. Just the thought of it creates anxiety. The core reason for this is that I fear being vulnerable. Once I share my hidden self I can’t take it back and I can no longer control what you think of me. Being known is hard.
We all have two sides, opposites. We choose the parts of us that we will allow others to see. That’s the safe side. This is the side we need to share in order to do life. We are polite, usually positive, non-offensive and often cheery. We believe this side is the safe side because we blend in and there is no judgement or criticism. We float through life, face to face yet we have no conversations, no roots, no ties, no relationships. We take no chance of being hurt, gossiped about, embarrassed or judged. We stay safe. But this kind of safety is really a lie, in reality it is a prison of sorts. We’ve locked ourselves up, isolated ourselves with our thoughts. We are left alone to review, ponder and meditate on ourselves and our hardships. We suffer alone. We tell ourselves we have no hope. We carry heavy burdens of every variety of guilt and shame. We live in the dark. This is the way down. This very thing we do to be safe puts us in the greatest danger and keeps us there. This is the side we hide.
But, God … He knows how we think and feel and he knows we desperately need his guidance. He asks us to do the opposite of what we think is safe. He asks us to take our eyes off ourselves and put them on him, “fix” them on him. He asks us to trust him and follow his instructions, to be humble and to give up control of what I think I know. He asks us to step out onto the limb into the light and face our fears of rejection and embarrassment. But why does he ask us to do this painful thing? Because he knows it is the way through the valley. He will travel with us and he will use others in our lives to help us guide our decisions and discern our thinking. He will help us exchange lies for truth.
Our Mental Health Team’s desire is to help one another find truth and peace in the struggles of mental health. Our Team’s verse is Lamentations 3:21 “But, this I recall to mind and therefore, I have hope.” We often need to ask someone to listen; to help us “recall” the “this” to our minds. To help us remember we are hidden with Christ in God. Our mental health is a life long journey made up of various conditions, situations and thousands of daily choices. Whatever state your life and mental health is in, there is hope for change, for improvement, for growth and there is hope for peace. In John 16:33 Jesus says “I told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
My mental health journey has had many highs and lows. While I continue to deal with anxiety, I’ve come to learn that there are practical daily tools I can use to help me through life. Ways to manage my mind and thoughts. I’ve also learned the life changing value of counsel. Speaking my truth out loud to someone and allowing them to help me compare it with God’s truth. This has truly been what has saved me, pulled me from the pit. Yes, I am imperfect and yes, I have trouble … But, God. He does not waste pain. Will you allow him to teach you his truth in your suffering? Will you accept his answers and will you accept his peace?