Only Jesus can satisfy that longing today and every day throughout eternity. My anxiety creates a fresh insight into faith and my walk with Christ. My anxiety causes me to long for another world. Like C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Unfortunately, the topic of mental illness has a stigma attached to it—even within the church.
Images of psych wards and straitjackets might come to mind for people who don’t struggle with mental issues. What’s more, it’s easy to quote “don’t worry about anything” and “cast your anxiety upon the Lord” when you’ve never experienced an all-out panic attack or a dark season of depression.
To shepherd struggling sheep wrestling with mental health is one thing, but caring for your own anxious soul as a pastor is another.
So here’s a confession: I have generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. I’m a constant worrier. I can worry about small things, which gradually turn into big things.
This can range from health anxiety to other irrational fears (like public speaking when I was in high school). This worry sometimes manifests into a full panic attack. Adrenaline rushes into my system and my thoughts race uncontrollably.
Nearly 1 in 4 Americans, including pastors, have battled with mental illness on a personal level. And many pastors suffer in silence because of the stigma.
But brother, we don’t have to suffer in the prison of our mind. We can learn to embrace our weaknesses and display the grace of God.
Learning from the prince of preachers
Every human is created with a healthy sense of anxiety and anticipation. We’re hard-wired toward fight or flight.
But some of us, in our fallen nature, have a difficult time dealing with anxiety. It consumes us if we allow it.
Our affections become distorted and affect our wills. I have a friend—a licensed psychiatrist—who says, “You don’t correct anxiety. It’s a part of being human.”