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Sit With Them

Audrey Bailey, May 22, 2023

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? It seems like each year we see more and more people sharing and speaking out about mental health – whether it be on Instagram, in blog posts, or in everyday conversations. We are also seeing more people within the church speak up as well, which is an exciting movement of its own! But what happens when we turn the calendar page to June and Mental Health Awareness Month is over? How will we continue talking about mental health awareness in the context of the Bible and what God teaches us through His Word?

Whether you are struggling with your own mental health in this season or you know someone else who is, it’s crucial that we learn how to continue these important conversations in a Christ-centered lens so that we can help ourselves and those around us.

When you think about scriptures regarding anxiety or worry, there are probably many that come to mind. We see them shared on social media and sent through a quick text to a friend having a bad day. And while these words are straight from God and can be healing to many, just sharing one Bible verse and then moving on with our day is not the only solution to a deeper problem.

Let me share with you a scripture on my heart particularly this month:

“Now when he heard this, He said “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Matthew 9:12-13 CSB

This was when Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees for sitting and sharing a meal with many tax collectors. What I find fascinating about this scripture is how big of a deal it was to others for Jesus to be seen spending time with tax collectors, and how we can tie it back to mental health awareness.

The Pharisees avoided contact with the ‘sick’ and sick meant a myriad of things to them - sinners, tax collectors, but also those with actual illness. They had general faith that these people would be healed, but it was not worth the risk of exposing themselves. They watched at a distance and hoped healing would come but refused to be the very bridge to that healing.

When Jesus says “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” there are some things to take note of. He is not only quoting Hosea 6:6, but he is calling out how in Hosea 4:1 God’s people abandoned mercy because they gave up the knowledge of God and Truth.”

What can we do?

We can’t speak up about mental health awareness but not show up for those struggling with it. We are called to sit with those suffering and broken. There is a huge movement right now on self-care and our own personal boundaries. I even speak on creating healthy boundaries in my new book “Your Gratitude Guide.” This is not to be confused with ignoring the one silently suffering. Personal boundaries are needed, but they can isolate us from shining the very light God called us to shine when we do not let walls down at all.

I encourage you to ask God what your role is when it comes to not only bringing awareness to mental health but how to extend past that. Here are some tangible steps I have found to help, coming from a fellow believer that has struggled with mental illness most of her life.

Instead of asking someone “How can I pray for you?” and then hoping you remember to do so later I encourage you to pray for them or over them on the spot. We never know those who may not have the strength to even ask what they need prayers for.

Ask God to reveal a struggle someone in your circle or church may be facing, take intentional time to pray and ask for healing even when full details are not revealed.

Give Grace to those who are slow to text back, who struggle with keeping a commitment to meet up. Continue to invite them to sit with you, just as Jesus did with those the Pharisees did not understand.

Dear Jesus,

I am lifting up those who are suffering in silence. To the one who may feel distant from you. The one is afraid to show weakness. The one who struggles to lay it down. I pray that clarity comes through, that peace floods their mind. I pray they know how loved they are.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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