This summer, one of my absolute greatest friends and I got together for an evening of chatting, painting and relaxing. As we sat together, we began talking about a lot of the things that have been going on in our hearts. Not only were we speaking of recent events, but of things that had been years in the process that the other had barely or never heard at all- mental health issues that had been crippling us both silently on the inside but had never made their way to the surface.
As we continued pouring our hearts out, it felt like a simultaneous breath of fresh air and crushing heartbreak. “How”, I asked “have we never talked about these things before? How have we both struggled painfully alone when we could have had someone to walk through it with us the whole time?”
But the answer was simple, and, frankly, we both knew it too well. It’s the fear of surrounding stigmas that keep us all struggling in silence. It’s the heartbreaking truth that we live in a world full of broken people who’d rather create the illusion that they’re perfectly fine than admit to themselves and the world that they’re actually hurting. In fact, standing amongst the broken pieces of our lives attempting to convince ourselves and others will never do anything about fixing them. The only way to mend the bits is to admit they’re broken and get to actively putting them back together.
Of course, our brokenness will never leave us exactly the way we were before, and there will always be changes to the aftermath. However, I firmly believe that is okay. In ancient Japan, if an artist would break a vessel he was creating, the pieces weren’t thrown away. They were puzzle-pieced back together and the cracks were filled with pure gold. The artist took what could be seen as useless shards of pottery and made them into something of even greater value. I believe this is how we have to view our mental health.
Rather than viewing struggles with mental health (or struggles at all for that matter) as rendering us useless, we have to be willing to take action as the artist. If the artist simply broke looked at his broken bowl and tried convincing himself and others that it wasn’t broken at all, but rather perfectly functional, he would not only be no closer to creating something that anyone could use, but he’d also be entirely delusional. He must admit that his work is broken and begin working to put the pieces back together.
We have to do the same. Instead of buying into our world’s encouraged delusion in pretending that diseases you can’t see are any less than those you can, we have to admit to ourselves and others that our pieces are broken. But we can’t stop there, or else it’d be a pity party. And that, friends, isn’t good for anyone.
We have to get to work. We have to find help, see the therapist, go to the physician, take the meds, breathe deeply and take action. We have to fight for ourselves and fight for each other. We have to attempt to put the pieces back together.
Most importantly, we need that gold. We need the solid gold to come in and fill our cracks. That’s where the Lord comes in. He knows our sorrow and pain. He knows our world is broken- he sees us and he’s experienced our world himself. But just as a poor artisan can’t pick up the pieces and fill them with solid gold without the help of a much wealthier source, we can’t do it with ourselves. We can pick up our pieces, but we need God’s grace and mercy to fill our gaps. He wants to and he’s waiting to.
I challenge you that if you need help, find it. If you’re not sure if you need it, find it anyways. There’s no such thing as too much mental stability. And I’m here to talk if anyone needs it. You’re not alone, and we can all fight this battle together.