This image is a stack of 72 sets of eyes that friends sent to me for a sermon a few weeks ago. I cropped them down and tried to line them up. But as you can tell, it isn’t perfect. But it reflects the beautiful diversity of who we are. However, there’s something else that you cannot really see from this image. Of the 72 people, if statistics are accurate, 15 deal with some form of mental illness and of those 15, 3 of them deal with what one mental health foundation refers to as a “serious mental illness.” (Source)
But as we all know, mental illness isn’t always obvious on the outside. It isn’t like someone with their arm in a sling or a limp as they walk. Many of us who deal with mental illness often find ways to (we think) not let it show because of shame, fear, etc. had one interview with a church for their pastor position a few years ago where, after I had been very open about my past struggles, one of the committee members asked me, “What can you do to guarantee us that you will never deal with depression again?” That question hurt and hurt a lot. (Suffice to say, I withdrew my name from consideration at that congregation). It is sometimes no wonder that people try to hide what is happening inside, behind their eyes.
Today is World Mental Health Day and I am grateful for the ways that mental health has been brought to the forefront by many public figures in recent months. I am grateful that people such as Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, and Michael Phelps have spoken up about their current or past struggles. The beautiful (and funny) show Ted Lasso just completed its second season where, in the midst of the quirky storylines, was a deep focus upon mental health and the issues many characters have from their past and its impact on their present lives.
So, I don’t always know who reads these but I wanted to let you know that if you are struggling and need someone to talk with, I am here. If you need someone to pray for you, I will do so. If you need someone who can help impart hope for it to get better, I can do that. If you need someone to simply lament the struggle with you, I can do that as well.
Alison Webster wrote a beautiful prayer for this day
God of compassion,Alison Webster – A Prayer for World Mental Health Day
You meant us to be both fragile and ordinary.
Silence the voices that say we are not good enough,
Haven’t achieved enough,
Haven’t enough to show for our lives,
That we are not enough.
Help us to know that we are treasure,
We are prized,
We are cherished,
We are loved.
So be with us in our corrugations of feeling:
When our hearts are in downward freefall, be with us
When our minds race with anxiety, be with us
When our throats close in fear, be with us
When sleep will not come, be with us
When waking hurts, be with us.
In the name of Jesus,
Who knew trauma, abuse, despair and abandonment
And has nothing but love for us,