When I go to a room that has no light and I need to see, I turn on the light, or as some say, “flip the switch!” There is a lot of darkness in hearts today. There is brokenness, a lot of broken people. How do people come out of this though? As people, we deal with each other, but many of us hurt such that we don’t want to to be real with each other. It is SO hard! We have dealt with so many restrictions that involve being with people since the Covid-19 pandemic began. The news tells us not to go to church, not to have family over for the holiday’s, and no major events like sports games and concerts.
Seeing Mental Health
Depression and anxiety have increased significantly. Suicide rates are at an incredible high within the last year. Recently, we had a day dedicated to mental health. I see that people are starting to turn a corner and realize that mental health is an issue we need to be concerned about. But still, we have a ways to go to make it where people are willing to GET help and are willing to GIVE help.
For many years, people were unwilling to discuss and recognize mental health and the struggles that people have with it. So many had shame if they had any mental health disorder, even the slightest leaning towards one. Some never wanted to admit to anyone that they were hurting internally. They didn’t want anyone to know about their anxiety and fear either. Many were afraid to accept help, get on medication or simply talk about their hurts. Believers must flip the switch on our thinking around mental health. People are broken and imperfect and each of us has a unique way that we carry our brokenness… sometimes it’s not just emotional and needs professional help. And that’s ok!
Condemning The Struggle
Some “religious people” years ago would tell you that you aren’t trusting in God if you had these experiences or even talked about them. Often times people would overuse the expressions regarding replacing these thoughts with the “joy of the Lord”, or “Be[ing] anxious for nothing.” This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t honor what God’s Word says but the problem lies in whether or not the Body of Christ, the Church, specifically reaches people and lets them know that we care. We have to be obedient then people will follow. We don’t have to always give a solution, but simply care and listen. If we can do anything else to serve also, that can mean a lot to a person as well. Church should be the one place where people can look troubled and someone will notice and come try to help. All too often, it does not work this way. We must flip the switch on how we listen to and support others.
Choose To See And Listen
I have heard the line “If you just…” before. It is one of my least favorite expressions. You can ask my husband! I’m guilty of it too though sometimes.
It seems easy to tell someone what to do, to give a solution and move on. It is harder to be a sounding board, to just listen to someone expressing and pouring out their heart to you. I believe that this will open opportunities however to impact other people and “plant a seed” to see growth and change in a person’s life. John 13:35 says ” By this everyone will know that you are my disciples , if you love one another.”
The church that my husband and I are members of now has demonstrated this, the best of any church we have ever gone to. It is not perfect. No church ever is because people are in it and people aren’t perfect. But we know that there is love, grace and truth there!
Maybe It Is Our View
We often limit the ministry of the church because of our own perceptions or experiences or even those of others. We have to look a certain way. After all, I’m not going to let anyone know that I am a broken human being and need help! We need Jesus and we need the church to act like Jesus and care about people. Condemnation tears people apart in silence every day because someone can’t share a heavy heart or find needed support and love they so desperately crave. God created us to live in community with all of our flaws and failures. Christ accepted people where they were and encouraged them to become better, but didn’t crush their spirit for where they were. Not to say that God doesn’t have expectations of us, but it’s Christ’s love that compelled people to follow Him. We need to flip the switch on how we think about and support others in our community and especially in our spiritual community.
A Perfect View
I recently watched with my husband, the first season of The Chosen. We saw how Jesus interacted with people and the freedom and the grace and love they saw from Him. I saw how this truly changed lives. It will continue to change lives when we live by the example Jesus demonstrated. He said in fact, to love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. This is the first and greatest commandment, love the Lord Your God. (Matthew 22:34-40), then love your neighbor(second commandment). I see so often, this not happening in many places and much of history as well as many churches are full of fear.
It so often feels strange when we admit that we need help especially if we vocalize it to someone else. We should be transparent with each other. When we have a problem, it’s not strange, it’s honest to acknowledge it. If that’s uncomfortable at first, we have the option to be honest with a counselor or by just talking to a close friend or relative. It is better to get help and work it out to prevent things from getting worse. My husband and I were going through some difficult circumstances in our life and we decided that it would be good to talk to a counselor and get her input, so that things could get better. It was not because things were just so horrible and falling apart; we just wanted to be honest and make things better. Someone we knew that I told, was real concerned, as if this was a last resort situation. It really wasn’t. We just chose to flip the switch around how we thought about our well being by being vulnerable and honest about what we were going through together.
Unfortunately years ago, society in general looked upon counseling or other therapy as a last resort . If you finally made it in to get help, It meant that things had just gotten SO bad that you just HAD to do that. It is not that way at all though. Admitting that we have a need and that we could use help is the first step. Then getting that help can truly be so good for us! I’m not saying that this is always necessary and it certainly for many often lately, costly. What can we do though? We can be available to God and to people to share and listen and serve!
I Wish My Life Was Perfect
I watched the interview last week between Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey. Royalty, actors, actresses and popular people seem to look always happy when they are out in front of people. But are they really that way inside? In the interview, Oprah talked to Meghan about going out and how she would dress up and put on a pretty face, but she said that she was depressed and suicidal. The Royal family, celebrities and even our pastor or friends from church can look like they have it “all together.” We try to make ourselves look so good to the outside. When we see people looking great out in the public eye or on social media or magazines; we begin to believe that “everybody’s life is perfect except MINE”.
Make It Look Good!
This happens in ministry also! Many pastors and missionary families say before church when everyone is trying to get ready” We can’t look like that -we are the pastor’s family!” or stop” we have to look good to other people”. “Make it look like everything is fine” when it is not! The last few years, many in ministry also have committed suicide. This is so sad! Instead of friends and the church coming to be available, people talk behind closed doors about how messed up someone really must have been to do that, when NO ONE or so few ever took the time to come along side of that person and let them be real with them! I believe that a lot of depression, anxiety and suicide is preventable if this happens!
Check out another related article I wrote back in May and I hope it encourages you: It’s not about Me
The two lies that Matthew West sings about in “Truth Be Told” are:
- You’re supposed to have it all together
- Everybody’s life is perfect except yours
Let the World See!
I used Flip The Switch as the title of this post because I believe that we ARE able to change from looking good on the outside and showing the world that we care about other people who are going through tough circumstances too. We can change from being depressed to being willing to share our heart and be available to listen. Our perspective needs to change TODAY!
Often dealing with our struggles honestly and admitting that we’re broken human beings is the solution to freeing our lives to be better. Don’t be fake; be honest and let God’s community be a part of your healing.
Take a few minutes to genuinely connect with another person today and see if you can make it into a lifestyle. Flip the Switch on your interactions today!