I tend to be pessimistic and self-deprecating. I tend to think in terms of “the next disaster.” I tend to assume things are going to fall apart.
Somewhere along the way, I allowed myself to grow hard.
While this attitude isn’t a mental illness, it can certainly be exacerbated by having conditions like chronic anxiety and depression.
So part of my ongoing recovery process involves slowly cracking through this hard, protective shell that I’ve secured around myself. Years ago I began thinking that if I locked myself away from people and emotions that I couldn’t get hurt. But I’ve come to realize that I can’t live an effective Christian life with this mindset. I have to lose the shell.
A piece of the shell chipped away this past year, as I allowed myself to deepen friendships and reconnect with family. I know that it will be a long road, but I can already see how this change is affecting me — for the better.
This past week I was reading and reflecting on Jude, and the verse “Keep yourselves in God’s love” (1:21) really resonated with me and encouraged me to continue the process of moving from the shell into His love.
When I think about the shell I built, it is gray and militant and isolating. It is the opposite of what I think of when I read that verse. God’s love is soft, inviting, and secure.
It’s certainly a process, but chipping away at the shell and consciously choosing to abide in God’s love is giving me greater peace than my hard shell ever did.
God calls us to love Him and to love people, and it’s really hard to love anyone when you’re hiding underneath a shell.
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience by writing a guest post, doing an interview with one of us, or joining the team as a regular contributor. 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.