Someone recently said to me they feel uncomfortable at church because they feel like everyone is judging them for their struggles. They feel like they don’t belong there. I remember feeling like that in my life. I felt so bad about who I was and the things I struggled with that I felt everyone else looked down on me. It took me a long time to get over that feeling. Like I didn’t belong. I realized the problem was mostly internal. I had to realize everyone else in the chapel was just as flawed, vulnerable and human as I was. They may not have the same struggles as I do, they may not understand my struggles just as I am sure I can’t begin to grasp the trials they have had in their lives. But when you are feeling broken, scared, lost or alone…your faith is a good place to turn. Jesus didn’t sit down to supper with the priests and dignitaries of the land. He sought out those who were broken, lost and in need of comfort. Miracles happened because people were in need of one and often church is where we search for those miracles. Church is often where miracles are created.
A smile, an extended hand in friendship, acts of kindness and service or even silent prayers can help create miracles. Most miracles happen through other people and hopefully those who seek comfort and compassion from God, will find it in His people. At the end of the day it is not about what other people think or say. If someone says you are a unicorn…it doesn’t make you a unicorn…by the same token if someone says you are stupid or less than…it doesn’t mean you are. There is not a single person on this earth that is better than another. Some make better choices, some have better circumstances in their life but a soul is a soul and we are all loved equally by our creator.
Mental Health struggles are not a sign of weakness. People don’t stop to think just how much strength it takes to battle a mental illness. Facing each day knowing it will be a struggle, you will be misunderstood, judged and feeling constantly anxious or less than…yet you make it through the day, you fight for a better tomorrow. It is not like an outside stressor in your life. You can’t get away from it, the struggle is in your head, it is constant and frightening and hard…and people think you are just irresponsible or not trying hard enough. Yet you make it through the day, as hard as it was, with no credit for just surviving.
I know someone with many strengths, they are kind and go out of their way to help others. They struggle with anxiety that is paralizing. It can take days to be able to make a simple phone call because even if it is a positive call the thought of talking on the phone and saying something stupid makes it hard to breath and causes physical intestinal problems. They work more than a full time job, volunteer and try to be a good person but they often isolate themselves because people don’t understand how difficult phone calls and personal interaction is for them. I see people struggling with depression, anxiety, eating disorders or other mental health issues and I see individuals of strength, with compassion, understanding and talents that are underestimated or accepted.
Everyone has a stuggle or battle in life. Whether it is physical illness, mental illness, problems with anger or patience or compassion. Everyone is the same. They may not have the same power or position, wealth or opportunity but they have the same worth and deserve the same respect, compassion and understanding we pray for ourselves to receive.