There has always been a hurdle in my relationship between spirituality and mental health.
I grew up an active member in my church. A good church. One that taught me great life lessons and shaped me into the person I am today. I learned how to serve and help others, to show kindness and compassion, and many other things. I made friends and had outstanding mentors who helped me through some difficult times.
Along with that shaping came an unrealistic, and what seemed like an unattainable, expectation of what I was supposed to do with my life. My path was already chosen for me. I was to be the ideal church member and adhere to the rules that I was taught as a child. I was to be “perfect.” If I did just that, I would be happy. If I did what I was told, I would feel joy beyond belief.
But struggling with depression and anxiety made my relationship with spirituality difficult. I grew up believing that if I wasn’t feeling happy, I wasn’t spiritually doing my part. I was unhappy because I wasn’t praying hard enough, seeking out scriptures enough, going to church enough—and that all meant that I wasn’t trying hard enough. And because I wasn’t trying hard enough, I myself wasn’t enough.
That belief grew and grew until it was all-consuming, and that mindset befriended my depression and anxiety. It made me feel surrounded on all sides, with nowhere to turn. It destroyed what I had left of my spirituality and my hope that there was good in the world.
When it comes to spirituality, we may all hold different beliefs. We may believe in a god. We may believe in many. We may believe in science. We may struggle with discovering what we believe in. Sometimes these beliefs can make us feel divided from one another, but somehow there is one thing we can all believe in…
Love is kind. It is providing acts of service and ministering to those who need help. Love is hopeful. It is a light that gives us the belief that things are good. Love is vulnerability. It is learning to accept others and everything that encompasses them. Love can unify, even when we might feel divided. Love can heal, even the deepest of wounds and most intense feelings of pain. Love is so many things and can have different meanings for each individual, but it is a force that binds us together and makes us human.
We can find love everywhere, whether that is love from a higher power or from those around us. It can be a hug. It can be an unexpected phone call. It can be the laughter of a child. It can be a home-cooked meal. It can be looking in the mirror and saying something kind to the person you see. Love can take many shapes, and we can use those shapes to fill the holes of when we feel lost and alone.
I had to step away from spirituality to understand this lesson. I had to separate myself from something that was telling me that I wasn’t enough. I decided to cut out trying to be perfect and focus solely on what already made me deserving of love. It was a difficult decision to make, one that I live with every day, but because I believe in love, I have hope that I can one day make peace with my spirituality. Because of love, I can believe that wherever I am, whoever I am, whatever I decide to be, I am enough. It’s time to bring that to light, because love, from any power, is enough.
This is good, Tyler. You’re right. Sadly, the church has had a lousy record of dealing with mental health issues. Thankfully, that’s changing. And you are also right about love being what matters most, “the one thing we can all believe in.” Your comments about love reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13 in the New Testament which so beautifully describes real love, wrapping it up with “…there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run”
(1 Corinthians 13:13 Passion).
I’ll strive for love and compassion along with you. When we do, we can help bring change to our world. And we’ll find the kind of spirituality God intended because He. Is. Love.
My dear niece Michelle,
You are Love to and for me! Thank you for your lessons and love. I am on this path as well…..so many of us are. Your posts bring such clarity for me. Thank you! Your Uncle Gary ❤️
I love this so much. Most people have the same bible verses read at their wedding. I think I want this read instead. Thank you 🖤
Love this needed this
Oftentimes I believe people say that they love someone out of pure selfishness. The man I have been with now for almost 25 years always says, “I love you Laura.” I do not believe him. They say actions speak louder than words and his actions scream go away! My health is not good now and I am limited in doing all the wonderful things I used to be able to do for him and he does not see my pain. I need his help now, but whatever reason(s), he is just not devoted to helping now when I need him the most?! I cannot work and I do not have the strength to play the waiting game with applications for disability, etc.
Until I read your story of love… I was convinced that my life with this man was the only kind of love we women seek, but you showed me that love is so much more! Like a child’s laughter or a past memory of my grandmother.
You have opened my heart once again and given me exactly what I needed! Thank you!
Right there with you Laura.
Wow. This is Beautiful! Very nicely said and written. I saw your pic with Mason-what a lovely human he is! I worked with him at Delta. Nothing but the best to you two.
I love this,thank you for sharing your heart