Ask The Preacher's Wife: Can I Love God and Still Be Suicidal?
The short answer to your question is YES, you can absolutely love God and still have suicidal thoughts, ideation, and even attempts.
But, stick with me for a minute as we dig deeper.
First, if you are currently, like, RIGHT NOW, having suicidal ideation and are actively contemplating suicide…
Secondly, I see you!
You are not delusional. You are not demon-possessed. You are not a black sheep. You are not a problem. You are not being dramatic. You are not just stressed out. You are not simply seeking attention. You are not crazy. You don’t just need prayer and a vacation.
KC, your mental health concerns are real and valid, and you are loved!
So, go get a snack or something, because we have to unpack a few things.
You’re Saved Right?
Your love for God has nothing to do with the condition of your mental, physical, or emotional health. Your faith, and subsequent love for God, is based on the belief that Jesus, the living incarnation of God, came, lived, was crucified, dead, and buried, was resurrected on the 3rd day, and ascended into heaven to sit with God. THAT’S your faith. DASSIT!
Let somebody hold your mule while you shout right there!
Because you have been saved by grace, the state of your mind cannot separate you from God’s love. Nothing can! It says so in the Bible! If you are a believer in Christ, your faith, and your salvation is not based on what you do, who you are, or the status of your mental health.
Unfortunately, the church universal has not done a good job discussing mental health. In actuality, the field of psychology, or the scientific study of the mind, was established some time around 1880. While this might seem like it was long ago, the science is fairly new, in comparison to other scientific concentrations; like medicine.
What does this mean?
Glad you asked! For the most part, we’ve been studying the human body for way longer than we’ve been studying the human mind.
Just like our society, the church has not had much exposure with recognizing, understanding, and dealing with mental health and it’s impact on people.
We can certainly find scriptures about physical health in the bible. We’ve read stories about plagues and skin conditions. We know that Luke, one of the 12 disciples, was a physician. However, scriptures about mental health have not been quite cut and dry, and they are not clearly revealed as scriptures which address mental health.
Throughout the bible we read stories where we can only hypothesize if a mental health issue is being discussed.
Herod, who reigned as king when Jesus was born, was insecure, paranoid, and filled with rage. Herod had a mental health issue. Today, Herod would probably be diagnosed with a personality disorder.
The woman who followed the disciples yelling and screaming possibly had a mental health issue. Today, we might call it paranoid schizophrenia.
Too many call it demon possession.
While I do believe that Jesus was casting out legit demons…like straight Exorcism of Emily Rose style demons, I do not believe that at any point Jesus was asserting that ALL mental health issues were due to demon possession.
Unfortunately, many churches and church leaders have reduced and dismissed mental health issues to being an issue of demon-possession. This view has caused hurt, stigma and unrealistic responses to heal real trauma. Everything is not a spirit!
We gotta stop that mess! That ain’t got NOTHING to do with JESUS!
Listen, I could go on and on about mental health and the black church. Perhaps in a later post, I’ll explore ways in which we can begin to have healthy dialogue about limited access to resources, historical fear of accessing systems, clergy limitations, and other issues that impact mental health.
But fam, today, it’s all about you!
I don’t want to assume that you have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment from a mental health professional. Therefore, let me be clear…
FIND A THERAPIST AND GET AN ASSESSMENT!
Please do not allow fear of church isolation, prevent you from treatment. Real talk, some of these church biddies are going to talk about you until Jesus returns (I’m praying they get their petty, immature lives together).
At the end of the day, you cannot control how other folk see or perceive you. You cannot change what they will say or do. However, you can take the necessary steps to address those reasons you use “cutting” as a soothing or coping mechanism. You can take the steps to address your depression and anxiety. You can take the steps to make your mind, spirit, and body, whole. THAT is in God’s will!
Today, my prayer is that God’s perfect peace will sustain you during this challenging time in your life. Your mental health status may be a lifelong struggle. However, God’s peace will allow you to “bear up under” it and endure through the storm. Understand that this does not make you any less of a Christian.
As you continue to develop both spiritually and mentally, I pray you understand that it’s OK to Fast, Pray, and go to Therapy!
Peace and Love,
*Due to the nature of this question, a one on one conversation to assess for safety occurred at the time the question was received. This is a recap of that conversation.