I believe one of the keys to making church a safe haven is being deliberate and sacred with our communications. Ephesians 4:29 teaches us to speak that “which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” I love the idea that through our words we can extend grace to others. I’ve needed that grace as I’ve lived with clinical depression and anxiety. As I’ve worked to harmonize a life of serious mental health issues with gospel living, I’ve noticed a few things we say that can accidentally hurt those who are struggling. For example, have you ever heard phrases like this said at church?
If you just reach out to God, He’ll reach out to you.
If you just keep asking in faith, answers will come.
If you just change your perspective, you’ll see you’re blessed.
These statements aren’t inherently false, but they can be damaging for those with mental health challenges. How? They don’t leave a lot of room for the will of God, which may require distance or prolonged trials. They imply that someone isn’t trying hard enough. They suggest if the “cause and effect” of your gospel experience is different, you’re abnormal and need to change. By rephrasing what we say just a little, we can get the same testimony and inspiration across while still being sensitive to battles we know nothing about. Take a look at the statements above again and then read how they’ve been reframed below.
I know God appreciates your effort to reach out to Him.
Answers come according to the Lord’s will, but prayer will help you find continual peace.
Focusing on Christ will help us praise God and process our pain simultaneously.
The goal with such communications should be about encouraging a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not focusing on an end result, while also honoring the hard work others have likely put into their gospel journeys.
You can get more insights on living as a disciple of Jesus Christ with depression here at The Depressed Disciple.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.