Over the last couple of days I have seen two articles which have really hit me.
Firstly the news broke about from Inland Hills Church that Pastor Andrew had taken his life following a battle with depression and anxiety. Inland Hills FB Post
Then today an article from Sky News ‘Nearly a quarter’ of girls aged 14 self harm
In some ways neither story surprise me as such. I have spoken to many young people through the Listening Service whose story involves them self harming. The many pastors who struggle with depression, 46% have struggled with depression.
Although young people and pastors are at different stages of life and the struggles may appear in different ways I believe one of the most significant factors is a lack of expressing yourself.
Whether that be the young girl who doesn’t feel accepted, feels isolated and feels they don’t have anyone to confide in. Or the pastor who feels like they need to put on a mask to show they are fine, the pastor who feels lonely and that it all rests on their shoulders. Add to it all they expectation of other young people or church members that you should be fine that you just need to keep calm and carry on.
I believe we need to rediscover the art of communication. (I know I do) Conversation that goes beyond the small talk (anyone else hate small talk, we both know what the weather is like, lets move on). Conversation that gives real space to express emotions, dreams, worries, struggles and truly what life is like. We need to develop relationships in which we can truly be real and express ourselves.*
For me as a follower of Jesus, I believe the church needs to stop the facade of perfection and show the reality of our struggles and battles. I don’t ever want to give the impression that I have it all sorted I don’t. At times I stress, I worry, I get frustrated, I feel down. But the beauty of a relationship with Jesus is that He does and when I am weak He is strong. That I can trust Him who is ever faithful. I love how Craig Groeschel says ‘People would rather follow a leader who is always “real” than a leader who is always “right.”
Lets invest in relationship in which we can begin to express ourselves truly. That we can be real how we really are.
* I personally haven’t struggled with anxiety or depression. I would advise speaking to professionals about ways that can help you. I acknowledge one of the hardest things to do when depressed or any thing like it is to talk but please do.