Marja Bergen

author, mental health activist, follower of Christ

Peace in the midst of crisis

_MG_8641 edited for email

I was going to tell you how having a Christian faith helps believers feel a deep inner peace. A peace that passeth all understanding. God’s peace. I was going to tell you how having such peace can help with symptoms of our illness.

But…I’ve been thinking: How available is that peace to us when we’re struck with a mental health crisis?

It’s true that when we accept that God has forgiven us for the bad things we’ve done and when we in turn forgive others who have wronged us, we feel a calm come over us. And when we come to an understanding of the depth of God’s great love for us, our minds and spirits come to rest.

I was going to tell you that along with these, trusting God with our lives would give us the deep inner peace we need to control stress. And we all know how stress brings on the symptoms of illness.

So…if we can have all this faith in God and what He provides for us, wouldn’t that be all we need to do to stay well? Read the Bible, pray, and carry on – forever at peace?

Now, getting back to the “but” I started off with:

I talked above about some of the spiritual ways in which we can find inner peace. We need to seek that kind of peace. It can do much to reduce stress and keep us well. But when we’re in the throes of a mental health crisis, is such peace available to us? How can we possibly find such peace when what we feel and experience is the opposite?

I have come to realize that when our brains are a jumble of confusion, when we’re afraid because we don’t have control over what’s happening inside, it’s very hard to access God’s peace. When our minds don’t work the way they should, they can’t cooperate enough to allow the fullness of God’s peace to settle. It’s not a lack of faith, but simply a problem with the physical functioning of our brain.

At times like this, when our normal means of coping and the spiritual practices that usually help us don’t work, we might need medication to help our minds recover normal functioning. When meds work well they’re such a gift from God! We need to be thankful for them.

As we wait for recovery, believers like me try not to give up reaching out to God, as hard as it may seem. We know we need Him and do our best to focus on Him, in spite of the other things flying around in our heads. We sit with Him, talk with Him, ask for His help to find the strength we need to return to normal life. Hard as it might be, we try to place our trust in Him – He who will never leave us. He who never stops loving us. …And we find that: He will cover us with his feathers, and under his wings we find refuge. (Psalm 91:4)

1 Comment

  1. Heather Hooge

    May 11, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Finally, reading something that has me nodding my head “YES”. I read your book “A Firm Place To Stand” and still do. It assures me, that as a Christian living with Bipolar and borderline personality issues, this is my “normal ” and Christ is the love, comfort and healer of a very rapid cycling mind. Thank you.

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