Are You A Christian Who…
- Lives under a cloud of depression?
- Feels imprisoned by anxiety?
- Has experienced something to make you feel unsafe or overwhelmed?
- Has a relationship problem, such as broken trust, distant connection or poor communication?
It may seem strange, but being a Christian and having problems puts us in a sticky wicket, filled with uncomfortable questions. If our faith were big enough, wouldn’t our problems flee? If we believe and act according to our Christian values, why are we anxious, depressed, addicted or struggling in relationships? If we have any of these truly human problems, we often live under a cloud of spiritual condemnation—sometimes self-imposed, other times not. We can feel utterly alone and lost.
In difficult times, some of us have sought safety and help in our Christian communities, only to feel wounded. Perhaps we reached out to people who provided a spiritual solution for a non-spiritual problem. For example, perhaps a spiritual mentor has attributed anxiety to a simple lack a faith. Yet the roots of anxiety are often complicated, and rarely attributed solely to faith. So when a spiritual solution fails to control anxiety, we feel condemned and ashamed.
In some cases, spiritual leaders may have ignored our needs because they were too busy exerting their authority. When this happens, we often feel isolated and despondent. Or, maybe excessive legalism chained us to a Treadmill of Spiritual Performance, ultimately suffocating us with feelings of guilt and inadequacy when we couldn’t uphold every religious rule.
Maybe you’re a Spiritual Leader who is embarrassed by a private struggle. Where do you go for help? If you turn to anyone in your faith community—above, beside or below you in hierarchy—you risk compromising your livelihood. When the stakes are so high, it’s hard to believe that revealing the truth of your struggle will set you free. So while you lead and care for others, you may feel isolated, condemned and unworthy.
Whether we are leaders or followers, when we are robbed of joy and wounded, too often we ignore a profound truth…
Christians Are Not Immune To Problems
Christians don’t get a free pass out of human problems. Let’s take depression. The Apostle Paul told us, “It was for freedom that Christ has set [us] free” (Galatians 5:1), yet once he “despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8). So why are we shamed in religious communities when we acknowledge a similar feeling? When we admit being hamstrung by the fear of anxiety, why are we judged as lacking faith? Even the anxious Psalmist acknowledged the normalcy of fear (Psalm 56:3).
Relationship issues can also be particularly disturbing for Christians. When a Christian relationship sours, we may be reluctant to acknowledge our problems. Instead we look at the happy Christian families around us, and wonder what is wrong with us. We miss the dysfunction that hides behind their smiling faces. There is a truth we need to acknowledge: as people change over time, so do their relationships. Children, work demands, financial hardship, illness, grief—these are normal human stressors that affect our ability to effectively communicate, genuinely trust and meaningfully connect.
When we admit to being angry, depressed or anxious about anything, or if we are struggling in our relationships and marriages, we are sometimes told that our duress is due to believing a lie. Our Spiritual Judges may identify the lie as an erroneous belief about God, our situation or ourselves. Their message is simple: Replace the Lie with Truth and Solve the Problem! That turns out to be the biggest lie of all! Underneath our anger, depression or anxiety lie hidden truths. The doors of our mental prisons begin to open as we unlock those truths.