If you’ve ever heard of Mount Elbert, you know that it is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains at 14,440 feet.  Recently, the Lake County Search and Rescue of Colorado were made aware of an overdue hiker near that extreme height.  At 8pm the day of the report, they realized that they were limited in getting him help before he would be forced to spend the night alone.  So they tried to call his phone number…

For the seven hours that followed, they tried to call and text him time and time again with no luck.  After 24 hours of being lost, the hiker made his way back to the path, found his car, and found himself back in civilization once again.  When asked why he didn’t answer the many calls that he received, the man answered, “I didn’t recognize the number” on the caller-ID screen.

Can you imagine having offers of help and hope and yet not claiming them in the most anxious of times?  We should be able to imagine it because it’s so often the case for us all.  We isolate ourselves with our burdens when that does not need to be the case.  I do it all the time!

The Scriptures confront this tendency.  God knows how tempted humanity may be to downplay our struggles and He tells us that communal wisdom and counsel are necessary for a number of reasons: 

  • It connects us with His will (Proverbs 19:20-21 – Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.)
  • It’s His way of protecting us (Proverbs 11:14 – Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.)
  • It gives us a healthy dose of wise humility (Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.)
  • It allows the Church to unite through building one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:14 – We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.)

There are other implicit benefits as well, but these explicit reasons should be foundational to the Christian experience.  After joining the united Bride of Christ, we’re not meant to do life alone.  And while we admit that in certain areas of life, we deny it in others.

We recognize the need for pre-marital counseling because unguided Bible reading and prayer likely won’t equip young believers on how to work through their financial struggles or broken dreams when they had always hoped to be parents and find out that they are infertile. 

We recognize the need for conflict resolution in a family where different members have strong views on how to handle their parents’ estate or when a married couple can’t seem to get on the same page with their communication.

We recognize the need for veterans to receive help when they have volunteered their very lives to protect the ones they love and come back home with debilitating PTSD. 

It is not a part of some new-age therapeutic movement to admit that therapy, counseling, and pastoral care is a part of exploring the complexities of the human mind and body in ways that draw us into the wisdom of God and direction for our lives.  It’s actually a tool that God uses to draw the Church out of the lie that the intimate areas of our lives are handled in secrecy and into the eternal truth that we were meant to enjoy community in the same way that our triune God has always existed (Genesis 1:26 – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion …” [Emphasis added]). 

This will be the first of a small number of blogs that will seek to normalize the need for this truth in each of our understanding of biblical discipleship.  We will seek to destigmatize the right act of seeking godly wisdom from those that God has placed in our lives and our communities.  We will work to show those who have answered God’s call to seek help in a variety of ways that they are not characterized by weakness and shame, but by courage and humility. 

If you or someone that you know is struggling under the weight of brokenness in life, please reach out.  There is strength for those in fear, comfort for the afflicted, good news for the poor, healing for the brokenhearted, and freedom to those in captivity (Isaiah 41:10; 49:13; 61:1).

We love you all,

Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff

Destigmatizing Mental Health: Part One

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