You might be asking yourself what does Dave mean by “I’m Not O.K. and That’s O.K.”? As I have shared before I fight at times with Anxiety. I recently have gone through some pretty big changes in my life as we have moved from a small town of 2,000 to a city of around 283,000. I have been reappointed as a Resident Pastor at Epworth UMC in Toledo, which I am very excited about and thankful for. It has been a big change to go from being the lead pastor of a church of 90 on a Sunday morning to being one of five other pastors on staff at a church that has around 600 on a Sunday morning. It is a lengthy process of trying to learn expectations and roles in a new position, to figure out where I fit in. This move also comes with my wife having to find a new job (which thankfully she has found one and will be starting on the 21st), our daughter adjusting to a new location and people, meeting new neighbors, learning where things are around the city, and getting to meet all the people at our new church. These changes are not bad things at all, they are actually very good things that I am extremely thankful for; Yet, while these changes are good things this does not mean these things come without stress and anxiety.
Thankfully the anxiety I am experiencing is not the panic-inducing, vomit producing, shutting down and sheltering myself from others that I experienced numerous years ago. However, because I have experienced that in the past I know the signs to watch out for and then I try to be extra careful and proactive in taking care of myself. While the stigma of mental illness is getting better within Christian circles you still hear the occasional, “Have you prayed about it?” or “There are Bible verses about that have you read them?” or “If you had faith then God would deliver you from that.” To which I would reply, “I have prayed about it, I have read those verses and have several of them memorized, and I have faith in God but at times this is an ongoing battle in my life.”
Unfortunately, there are those times within the Church that Christians are either told or made to feel like they always have to be O.K. or at least pretend to be O.K. I think this does a disservice to our faith journey and is inconsistent with what we see with Jesus or others in the Scriptures. I think when we pretend to be O.K. we make those outside of the Church feel like they cannot relate to us, and it eventually makes us look like hypocrites because the facade cannot be maintained forever.
You may be asking the question, “So do we just give up then?” To which I would emphatically reply, “No Way!” While I would say, “I’m Not O.K. and That’s O.K.” it opens the door for me then to surrender that part of my life to Christ more fully. Instead of having the John Wayne “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality I look to 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul had a thorn in his flesh that he had asked the Lord three times to take away, but the Lord responded to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” To which the Apostle Paul responded, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, that Christ’s power may reside in me.” So I encourage you today to say, “I’m Not O.K. and That’s O.K.” and then be willing to fully surrender yourself to Christ so that in your weakness you may be strong.
I want to close by saying that if you are currently struggling with mental illness please know that you are not alone. If you are having suicidal thoughts please check out this website http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call them at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).