This article originally appeared on Persevering Hope, an online community opening conversation about mental health and the church.
A fun game of “Around the World” basketball was recently an avenue where God chose to speak to my heart. I love when God speaks in the everyday moments, and I am learning how to look beyond the everyday moments and the everyday people I pass by to peer into the windows of their soul. Author Ken Gire, in his book Windows of the Soul explains, “There is something beyond the surface of the everyday events of our lives and something beyond the surface of the lives of the everyday people we pass by” (pg. 43). Having recently returned home from a short mission trip, I looked past the everyday people and events of Guatemala during our time there. I am learning to keep my spiritual eyes open back at home in order to look beyond the everyday of those I pass by here. There really is something beyond the everyday, if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear. We all have stories and backgrounds, struggles and victories, and each is vastly different and personal.
Playing “Around the World” with my husband at our local community center where we had just finished working out, we were both struggling to make it around. Neither of us have played basketball in years, but we were having fun just shooting baskets and having a little friendly competition. I didn’t think much of it until somehow I made a connection in my brain and a thought occurred to me. I’ve been around the world, and I’ve struggled. From struggling with reverse culture shock after returning home from a mission trip, to walking through the desert of the Middle East while deployed with the military, I’ve come home changed every time. Sometimes growing for the better, and sometimes I’ve taken two steps backward as I deal with anxiety and depression.
My anxiety and depression are a silent battle, which makes it hard to get help even when I do reach out. People don’t understand because they don’t see it, I don’t let them see it. There’s so little real conversation about mental health, especially in the church. Yes, there’s a lot of talk about “getting help is a sign of strength” or “if you need to talk, I’m here”, but in my own experience, those are often just sayings. Having a strong support system is crucial when it comes to battling mental health. Over the years I’ve built relationships and developed a strong support system with my church family. They know me, and they have been given permission to hold me accountable. It makes it easier for me to have my voice heard, especially when I am struggling. However, when I was separated from the support and I didn’t have that accountability pulling me back up, the battle was harder to fight. I was on my own, but never really alone. Even when it seemed God was silent in answering my prayers, He was still there when I didn’t see Him. There were many times during my desert walk where I came close to giving up, where I lost my purpose and didn’t see a reason for being there. Thankfully though, my support system back home was faithful in praying for me. It is for this reason, I believe, at just the right moment my focus would return to Jesus Christ, my Rock and my Healer, and my strength for the battle would be renewed in the Holy Spirit. We are never alone, even when it feels like it. There’s always someone praying, and God is faithful. He never leaves our side, and He always “shows up” at just the right moment to remind us of that.
I learned how to persevere. As I was playing basketball, I was reminded of the determination I had as a kid when I played sports. I was never the best, but I was never one to quit. I showed up to every practice to get better, and I was at every game even if I didn’t get to play. Life is like that, too. There’s always something new to learn, a new perspective to see from. Sometimes seeing from that new perspective makes all the difference in our struggles. Look for the new perspective, the view which goes beyond the surface into the window of the soul. Whether it’s your soul, or the soul of someone you pass by in your day-to-day, peer in and catch a glimpse of the person beyond the moment. You never know who you will see.
Enjoy the View,