This week at Capital Christian Center, the speaker was Dr. Gregory Jantz of The Center in Edmonds, WA. The Center is a Top-10 in the United States treatment facility for depression and other mental illnesses. He spoke about several noteworthy topics with the overall theme of “reducing the stigma” associated with mental illness so that those who are suffering will have the courage to seek help. Times have certainly changed. Dr. Jantz explained, in the Dark Ages and with the Ancient Greeks, the climate for having a mental illness was even worse, and people were often treated with fear and trepidation, as well as other brutal physical solutions. So, if there was one point that Dr. Jantz – a fellow Christian – wanted to relay to the audience, it could be summarized in this way:
Now is a better time to have depression, and, if you are suffering from this – or any other mental illness – you should not hesitate for even one instant to seek help.
There are answers.
He described three deadly, common emotions: Anger, Fear (Anxiety/Self-Doubt), and Guilt (False Guilt/Shame). If I think hard enough, I’m pretty sure I could describe how I’ve personally felt each of those on the hour every hour. No one is immune. Take today for example: I was angry that my dog threw up in the car, fearful that I was a bad doggie-mommy for letting him get two vaccines in one day, and I felt guilty because I made the decision to try and save myself time. So, I redeemed myself by being a good doggie-mommy and cutting the line at Starbucks to get him a fancy type of cold glass of water so his tummy would feel better. Being a parent is exhausting. And my kids don’t even have two legs! I can only imagine what the rest of you human-Mommy’s and Daddy’s go through on a daily basis out there. You have my deep, utmost, and sincerest respect. You are my heroes.
Dr. Jantz also described three basic human needs: To feel accepted, understood, and affirmed. I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that those have been my three goals in life for the last several years. Perhaps that might sound familiar when and if you self-reflect on your own journey. The amazing part about Christ though, is that when He gets involved in a life, not only do we have the ability to choose to conquer the three deadly emotions, but we also are gifted the three basic human needs simply because God’s nature is a loving one. The clearest example in Scripture of this is Christ sacrificing Himself on the cross, but there are dozens of other examples, as well. So, if you find yourself carrying around a lot of extra regret in life, I encourage you to give it over to the Lord, which simply means to pray to Him…talk to Him…about what’s going on. He really does listen, and 1 Peter 5:7 states that He really does care for you.
Battling a mental illness like depression takes a certain tenacity and grit. There has to be a will to try over and over again to discern the answers to the missing puzzle pieces, whether that is medication, therapy, or both. It is no easy task and, even in modern medicine, takes a great deal of trial and error. What most people don’t see is what Dr. Jantz spoke about – that there are answers to every problem. It just takes time to find them. So, if you are out there struggling with not feeling right or already know of a diagnosed problem, don’t give up! As a good friend once told me, “Only the smart ones go to therapy.” Or, as a teaching course in graduate school once put it, “The only stupid question is the one not asked.” Your life – and everybody’s life – is worth the investment of treatment. Be courageous. Search for the answers with the momentum of everything that is inside of you. And realize that, along the journey, Christ is walking with you every step of the way.
Questions for Reflection:
- Are you, or is a person you know, struggling with mental illness? If so, what is one thing you can think to say to them that might provide some encouragement and acceptance?
- How does it revolutionize your perspective about the subject of mental illness to know that there are both prescription/medicinal solutions as well as talk/cognitive therapy?
- If you are currently involved in the recovery of someone who has a mental illness, how does it make you feel to know that there will be an answer to the puzzle? (Do not forget to care for yourself in the process. This is equally as important.)
- Are you, or is a person you know, struggling with addiction? If so, please consider talking to a pastor or leader at Capital Christian Center for more information about their Celebrate Recovery groups. We would also be happy to pray with you and provide a listening ear.
- What do you think about the stigma of mental illness in the workplace? Do you feel it is beneficial to a work environment or not fair to the worker?
House of Worship: Capital Christian Center – Lacey WA