If I have learned one lesson this year, it’s that there is power in a name. When we give our struggle a name, we are able to better distinguish truth from lie and work toward healing. Naming opens the door to freedom and sheds light on truth that can feel uncomfortable, exposing and painful. Yet, it’s necessary in the process of healing.
This year, I experienced the faithfulness of God most acutely through my struggle with mental health.
In his book, Live No Lies, John Mark Comer explains how we experience the power of peace when we know the reality in which we’re living. Knowing this reality can be a painful, but necessary process on our journey to healing. He writes, “The illusions we cling to become part of our identity and, with it, our security. They make us feel safe even as they imprison us in fear. Ripping them out of the humus of our soul can be excruciating. As David Foster Wallace put it, ‘The truth will set you free, but not until it’s finished with you.’ It’s only in coming face-to-face with reality as it actually is before God that we find peace.”
We find this teaching on knowing the truth to be prominent in the teachings of Jesus. In John 8:32, Jesus proclaims, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” And in John 14:6, Jesus declares Himself to be this truth that can be known. He is the very embodiment of truth, saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
There is power in naming our struggle, be it a mental health condition or a sin pattern with which we regularly wrestle. Jesus is not only faithful to expose these areas of our lives, but He is kind enough to guide us toward healing and freedom as He carries us through it.
I’ve seen the Lord’s faithfulness in my own experience getting diagnosed with a couple of mental health conditions this year.
For years, I have struggled with my performance in school. My grades were fine, but I could never understand why I was so slow — why reading a chapter of a book felt like it took twice as long as others, why after reading something I could hardly retain anything from it, why teachers would pull me aside to tell me I had to pick up the pace in my test taking, or why I missed key details in conversations.
It wasn’t until this year that this struggle I had experienced since childhood was given a name. My forgetfulness wasn’t just a quirk, my slowness to complete assignments was not an accident, and my social anxiety was not simply a result of a reserved personality. In February, I was diagnosed with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Those years of struggle finally had a name, and that name opened up the door to getting help.
Five months after my diagnosis with ADHD, I also found out I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Again, something I had struggled with for more than 16 years finally had a name. God, in His loving kindness, allowed anxiety-inducing situations to arise in the spring semester that caused me to consider seeking out help. He allowed a dear friend of mine to love me enough to encourage me toward counseling. As it turns out, my ADHD diagnosis had also opened the door to behavioral therapy, which opened the door for me to have a safe place to talk about anxiety with a trusted counselor.
So why do I tell you all of this?
Because life is broken, and sometimes we experience that brokenness in our mental health. Yet, God lovingly guides and cares for us in those struggles. He provides opportunities for safe places like counseling and medication to help as He walks with us in our pain. But more importantly, He gives us Himself and indwells us with His Spirit, so we never walk this broken road alone.
The same God who led the people of Israel through the wilderness is the same God who guides His Church to trust Him even when there is turmoil within us and around us. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.”
Power comes in naming our struggles, yes, but even greater power exists in the Name of Jesus Christ, who came to earth to restore us back to Himself. Because of that Name, we can experience victory in this life and look forward to the restoration of everything that is broken by sin on this earth.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Lauren Pratt works for a Public Relations firm in Boston and is finishing up her Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies at The College at Southeastern. She enjoys writing as a way to both encourage and equip followers of Christ in the local church. This article first appeared on Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s website. Republished with permission.
by Lauren Pratt / Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary