When Michael and I moved a few weeks ago, we sold most of our stuff. We kept our books (obvi) and some clothes and kitchen stuff, etc., but we sold all of our couches and chairs and our kitchen table — so the big stuff. As we’re starting to (slowly) furnish the house, it’s quite a task to figure out what to put where. Typically, I’ll spend a free afternoon visualizing the space and sketching it out. Then I’ll spend days thrifting then hitting up discounted stores (and yes, then Target) until I find what we need. It’s both fun and exhausting.
There are two things, however, we knew without a doubt that we wanted in our new house: a big table and a big couch, both perfect for large, communal meals and fellowship. Are we super sociable, outgoing people? No. Did we move to a place where we don’t have any friends? Yes. So it might not make a ton of sense…yet. But that’s often how God works. He calls us to act by faith — not by sight.
When we were in Idaho, God began to call us to use our home as a space for fellowship. We hosted a small group, we held friendsgivings and superbowl parties and the random just-cause parties. We had so many wonderful memories there, around our very tiny table and our not-so-ideal couch setup. It wasn’t the perfect space, but it worked because God wanted it to.
And as I’m writing this, I realize that it sounds like it was all ideal and easy, but it wasn’t. It didn’t happen overnight. And there were many times that I couldn’t attend events or had to cancel because of mental illness. Anxiety and depression and ED have this thing where they like to be your only friend. So it wasn’t that we were socializing all of the time, because mentally I can’t do that — I’ve come to know and accept my limitations. But I’ve stopped beating myself up for not being able to socialize like a “normie.” I’ve learned to be honest about where I’m at and save my energy for a manageable social calendar.
The easy thing, of course, would just be to shut the door, to fill our house with books, a bed, a small two-person table, and close ourselves off to any sort of hosting responsibilities.
However, as we began to envision our life here, we both felt God calling us to continue this fellowship-driven life. And we wanted to obey that by preparing a home for that purpose. And so we bought the couch and we bought the table, and now we just pray and wait. We are currently in the process of visiting churches, longing to connect with people our age and begin building relationships. But you can’t rush God’s work. You obey, take that first step (buy the table, for example), and then pray and wait, until the next step reveals itself.
Is it scary? Yes. Do I feel ridiculous having a 10-seater table and couch right now for all of Michael and myself? Yes.
But then I remember the nudge we both felt to prepare a space for fellowship, and I begin to feel excitement over anxiety and fear. It’s not a one and done, now I’m not worried or fearful anymore thing, by any means. It’s constantly praying and meditating on God’s promises, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
I hope that, wherever you are, you find the courage to begin working towards whatever you feel God is calling you to do, big or small — regardless of mental illness, you can do it. Take that first step. He has a plan for you, and the world needs you!
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.