I have been on an incredibly vulnerable journey of faith and emotional healing. I felt it was time to share with those of you who may feel like you are alone. May God give you the courage to continue to pursue Him and believe Him for ultimate healing. ~Ashley

Anyone who knows me knows I am a pretty private person. Some people are more nosey than concerned about what you are experiencing, so it is easier just to keep silent.

For the past few years, I have experienced challenges with anxiety. Simple tasks that I know I can complete are too overwhelming to finish well. Thoughts of “failing” are constant; even though I realize it is negative self-talk. It is hard to slow down my rapid thoughts and fears at times. There is plenty of shame when I feel an anxiety attack.   It is not something I ever imagined I would face. You want to return to “normal” but every second is a battle.

  • You battle with everyone’s expectations of you (i.e. She can do this/can’t do this)
  • You battle with everyone’s need of you (i.e. Can you do /I need help to…)
  • You battle with everyone’s misunderstanding of you (i.e. If you prayed more/If you believed more)

If people only took a moment to understand, they would see your heart. Some of the most faith-filled people I have met are challenged by anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions. Is God an absent Father from mental and emotional brokenness? If we let many churches tell the story, the answer is yes. We blame people for their experience—it is easier than reaching out to help. Yes, even in mental and emotional brokenness people have to be responsible, but by labeling people, we excuse ourselves from helping.

As I move towards recovery, I am thankful for friends and family members that stood by me in my darkest moments of anxiety. My temptation was to keep this experience private. Recently, I shared my journey with someone I didn’t know. I struggled to get the word “anxiety” out of my mouth. What happened next was unexpected. The person shared, “The reason I do not go to church is because I have agoraphobia. Being in a crowd is a trigger for my anxiety. It is nice to know I am not alone.”

We must learn that God is not embarrassed by our struggles and neither should we. People are going through real hardships, and they need to know they are not alone. How many times have you heard it said that people do not come to church because they are lazy or unconcerned? We then excuse ourselves from reaching outside of the four walls of the church because people are not coming to us. Could it be that some people are working through mental and emotional illness? Could it be that a reassuring hug, compassion, prayer and love could go further than rebuke and condemnation?

I see many more conversations coming as God gives me the courage to speak up. In fact, I invite those conversations. I do not claim to have the perfect answers for the questions that need to be addressed about mental and emotional health. I do know that God’s heart is to seek and save those who are lost. Are we avoiding those who are mentally or emotionally broken? How does God want you to reach out to bring restoration and healing to their lives?

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