There is an interesting struggle that comes with being a follower of Christ who struggles with mental health issues. One the one hand I trust God. I believe that He has my best interests at heart and wouldn’t lead me astray. On the other hand, I don’t trust my own brain to do the same thing.
My brain has tried to fool me before. I often want to do impulsive things that seem wonderful at the time. Not reckless things or things that might harm others, just impulsive. For instance, I like to start things. I am an entrepreneur at heart. I have a million ideas in my head. I can think of ways that I could make a large impact on a community. I can think of ways that could make a large amount of money. I can think of ways to do both. But just because I can doesn’t mean I should.
I want God to guide my steps, and to do that I have to do my best to hear from and watch for God. Usually I get it right. Sometimes I don’t. For me when I don’t get it right, I struggle. With a brain that is full of self-defeating thought I often will spiral down into a depression really quickly. I look at myself as stupid. A screw-up. As someone who is just put here to get in the way and mess people up.
I understand from a logical point of view that these things are not true. Unfortunately there is a very real pain that I feel, and that pain will tell the truth to sit down and shut up.
The way I see it I have two options. I can continue to move forward and try to accomplish the things God has asked of me. Or I can let fear guide me and allow myself to freeze. So what do I do?
First I remember what the safe option is. The safe option is to move forward. This is safer for a couple of reasons. If I am trying then I have an opportunity to succeed. If I remain frozen, I never have that option. Do I have the opportunity to fail? Sure, but that is still a safer option. Failing, while trying to do what you believe God is calling you to, is always redeemable. God will use what you and I may see as a mistake for His glory. It is not the action that determines its success it is the motivation behind the action. If my motives are godly then God will use my mistakes.
So I need to check my motives. Why am I doing what I am doing? Is it because I want to satisfy my greed, pride, power, or any number of selfish reasons? Or am I doing what I am doing so that I can get closer to God’s design for me? And that is going to look very differently for each individual. For some of us our tasks are high profile. For some of us our role is behind the scenes. The important thing is to do what God is calling you to do. That is ultimately where you will find satisfaction.
I also need to remember that satisfaction, or contentment, is learned. The Apostle Paul alluded to this in Philippians 4:11-13 New International Version (NIV)
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
For a person to be content we need to learn how to do that. Learning requires practice and learning is often most effective though using our mistakes as a teaching tool. I am not saying try and mess up. NO, try to do what is right; just don’t waste the opportunity that comes from making mistakes.
And if there is anything I have learned about figuring out God’s plan for my life it is that I cannot do that alone. I cannot trust my brain all the time. But If I know that, and reach out to trusted confidants, mentors and the people who are doing the things I feel called to do, then my weakness becomes strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Sometimes our ability to move forward is a supernatural gifting. Christ also uses other people in our lives to give us the things we need. We are not meant to live our lives in isolation. Lean on and learn from those around you.
I don’t know what my or anyone else’s future will look like. And trying to discern God’s will for our lives is at times scary. I get that, and really that is ok. Just remember this, God’s plan is ALWAYS better. Go for what He wants and you will get there. And do your best to enjoy the journey in the process. God blesses a heart that calls out for Him.
NTL Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery