Last week, I was given the opportunity to witness to someone. It wasn’t a huge gesture. I didn’t have my Bible. I didn’t quote scripture at them. It was completely unexpected. It just started from a real, no-frills conversation with someone that I work with but didn’t know very well.
We talked about everything from ideal places to live, to our families, to who our favorite poets are, to our similar experiences with anti-depressants, and eventually we landed on religion. This person is at a point in their life where they want to be a part of a church community, but they have no idea where to begin.
I didn’t press them or recite a speech from memory. I just said, (in a less eloquent manner no doubt) well I’m a Christian, I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know that I’m a sinner saved by grace and my relationship with God gives my life meaning. I explained that my depression is, by no means, cured by being a Christian. But rather that the purpose that I get from a God-filled life gives me the courage to keep going, and to find healthy ways to manage. Our conversation ended there due to time constraints, but please pray for our continued encounters, that they will be full of kingdom work.
I believe in relational witnessing. I think it’s the most effective way of furthering God’s kingdom. But that’s not what struck me about this interaction in particular. It’s that the admission that I am on medication for and actively struggle with depression and anxiety led us into a conversation about religion and opened up the space for God’s love to be shared. And the best part? My admission did not (appear to) cause them to discredit my faith in any way. If anything, it seemed to make them listen to me more.
This is the first time, I think, that I’ve seized the chance to talk to a non-believer about mental health and Christianity. It was a reminder to me of how God turns our ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61:3). He can take the darkest, most painful parts of our lives and use them for his good (John 9:3).
This realization gives me life, and I hope it does for you, too.
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.