what christians get wrong about mental health.

There’s been a lot of talk about mental health in recent years, usually in reference to those dang millenniums and their diddly darn safe spaces.

To people who don’t understand, it seems like people with mental illnesses are just coming out of the woodwork.  Suddenly, there are all these people with self-proclaimed PTSD and anxiety and depression.  It doesn’t make sense to them.  It’s almost – almost – as if people are figuring out what’s wrong with them so that they can help.

And then people who don’t understand get all offended for some reason, as if that’s a bad thing.

Listen, I get both sides of the argument.  Completely.  But lately, I’ve been siding more with the people who are finally finding labels for the unknown monster that’s been plaguing them.  Because wouldn’t taking tests to find out if you have cancer be better than shoving down the symptoms and pretending like it isn’t there?

And yet people still keep denying it.  It’s almost as if they’re saying, “You don’t really have cancer.  You’re just overthinking things.  You need to be more chill.”

Now, I know that cancer is on a completely different plane than a mental illness.  But I think the reasons why the two should be treated differently are rapidly deteriorating.

A lot of Christians like to wave off the issue of mental illness with an admittedly well-intentioned “If you’re really suffering from (anxiety, depression, insomnia – you fill in the blank), pray and God will make it all better.”

There are two things wrong with this – first, that they’re ignoring a problem, and second, that they’re assuming that, if it’s a real problem, that God can just take it away.

Sure, God can take it away, but sometimes what even Christians forget is that God is not a vending machine, nor is He a wish-granting factory.  We don’t understand why He allows us to go through trials that He has the power to take away.  Sometimes it’s to better us, sometimes it’s simply to teach us how to rely on Him for strength.

And to assume that mental illness is something that God can and will just take away with a simple prayer is blatantly and horrifically wrong.

I can go into all the reasons why mental illnesses shouldn’t be ignored – from chemical imbalance to issues resulting from childhood trauma – but I’m sure you have people in your life who you can talk to, because the fact remains that one in five adults in the US suffer from a mental illness.  The statistic is the same for children, and for teenagers aged 13-18, the statistic is almost one in four.  (See NAMI’s statistics.)

Even if these statistics weren’t true, your response to your friends dictates how you actually feel about mental illness.  It’s one thing to lovingly care for your friends and ask what you can do to help – it’s a completely different thing to essentially tell them that they’re lying (excuse you?), that it’s “not that big of a deal” (just because it’s not a big deal to you doesn’t mean that it’s something they’re daily affected by), or that it’s “just in their head.”  (“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with people trying to find out what’s going on inside their heads.  How else would they figure out how to deal with it?

Instead of arguing with their findings, I’d challenge you to be a good friend and help them with whatever they’re going through.  After all, God loves us all equally despite all of the reasons we think He shouldn’t, so, since we’re called to be like Him, why should we act any differently?

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minirant: there’s nothing wrong with being “basic.”

Starbucks.

Ugg boots and infinity scarves.

Taylor Swift.

Even separately, these things may remind you of something – the Stereotypical White Girl, or a “Basic” girl.

If you love any of these things, you’re instantly labelled this.  To escape these labels, you claim that you don’t like them, and stay as far away from them as you can.

You claim that you’re “not like other girls,” shoving other girls down in order to make yourself more unique.

But just like it’s wrong to build your throne out of all the girls you’ve claimed you’re better than, it’s also wrong to call people “basic.”

It’s okay to like Taylor Swift (especially her new single, which is fire).  It’s okay to like typical fall outfits (because fall is the bomb diggity and heck yes you look amazing in those boots and scarves).  It’s okay to like Starbucks (because Salted Caramel Mocha Frappucinos are God’s gift to mankind).

Since when was it wrong to like things that are specifically marketed to us girls?

The same can be said for guys.  If guys like video games, they’re instantly labeled “gamers.”  If they like Marvel or DC or are really good at robotics, they’re instantly labeled “nerds.”

I think our society makes such a big deal out of being unique that it’s seen as wrong to like stereotypical things.

Everyone tries so hard to be different that they don’t realize that they’re all acting exactly like everyone else.

This is why it’s so hard for us to admit that we like these things.

But the truth is… it’s okay.

It’s okay to like both Taylor Swift and Twenty One Pilots and Jon Bellion.

It’s okay to like both Starbucks and boba tea and that obscure Japanese drink you saw in an anime.

Our uniqueness is already evident, and expresses itself in both the “basic” things we love and the more obscure things we love.

No two people are alike, and to lump people together based on a single likeness is wrong, plain and simple.

This has been A Rant™.

welp. that happened.

charlie don't know.gif

I think it’s safe to say that nobody saw this.

I know I didn’t.

Last night was a historic event.  I’ve heard people liken it to the Silent Majority that happened when Nixon ran.  I’ve heard people compare it to Reagan’s election.  I’ve heard people jump and scream and cheer with happiness, and I’ve seen people weep and unable to form emotions because they’re just too shocked.

I didn’t like either of these candidates, but I voted for one.  Everybody who knew how ridiculous voting third party is voted for one.

And now we’re gonna move on.

This isn’t the end, guys.  Regardless of who you voted for (or didn’t vote for), this is what happened and these are the results and, as surprised as I am to say it, Trump will be our next president.

But guess what?  It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter because the American people have more say over what happens here – and how the culture changes – than basically anyone in the political realm.

And God is still on the throne.

Regardless of whatever dystopian novel prologue we may be living in, God is still on the throne and His will is going to be done and we can trust Him, praise God.

Now take a deep breath, pray for peace, and keep moving forward.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

For the LORD will not abandon His people,
Nor will He forsake His inheritance. …

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul. …

But the LORD has been my stronghold,
And my God the rock of my refuge. (Ps. 94:14, 19, 22)

v o t e. | video

frens.

this election is gonna be weird.  duh.  even if you’re not american, it’s gonna be weird.

we’re faced with two very different options, and i’m not liking either of them.  i’ve always hated the game ‘would you rather,’ and now the entire nation has to play it… including me.

i don’t know who i’m voting for, but i know i’m going to vote for someone.  let my fren john tell you why (and why you should too).

LIE: you have a terrible existence if you don’t {xyz}.

Friends

A few months ago, a good friend introduced me to the show Friends.  Well, I need to back up.  Back when it was on TV, my parents used to watch it after they put us to bed and I would sneak out of my bed and watch it from the balcony.  They probably knew I was there, but I never got caught.  *sunglasses emoji*  I officially started watching it from Season One, Episode One back in May… and I’m hooked.

I recently had an almost-meltdown when I found out that my library didn’t have the season I was supposed to start next (seriously, what library buys the first six seasons of a TV show but skips over the fourth season?!), which resulted in taking total advantage of the Netflix free trial my mom got while we were at WITAlive and blowing through the episodes as quickly as I can.  (Don’t worry, I haven’t totally thrown away all of my free time – I’m using them as incentives to get my school done and it. is. working.)

As I fell in love with the show and the characters, I wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody under, say, eighteen, and I’m glad I didn’t watch it until now because I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much.  (I’m three steps behind all of the characters because I’m just about to graduate college and figure out what to do with my life, while they’re a few years out of college and still don’t have it all together.  It gives me so much hope.)  Still, I was so happy that I was finally able to understand references to one of America’s greatest sitcoms (“WE WERE ON A BREAK!”) and enjoy all of the jokes that the generation before me enjoyed.

I typically like to savor shows and books (which is probably why I still haven’t finished Boy Meets World), but for a while with Friends, I kind of felt like I had to catch up.  It felt like the entire world had seen this show… except me.  I love watching episodes in between intense study sessions and as rewards for submitting papers and reading classic novels that I struggled to get through (classics aren’t my cup of tea, tbh, but I’m trying to develop a taste for them) and even just to destress after a rough day.  However, I think part of my (mild) bingeing of the show had something to with the fact that I felt so behind.  I wasn’t pressured by my friend to watch it after she said, “You haven’t watched it yet?!” – instead, I pressured myself.

I do this a lot, especially with books, shows, music, movies.  Just the other day, I incredulously said to a friend, “Wait, you haven’t. read. Harry. Potter?!” even though I hadn’t read them for myself a year ago.  Oops.

Especially with more popular things, I think people pressure others into doing stuff – almost guilt-tripping them into thinking they’re missing out on something because they haven’t experienced it yet.  “Wait, you haven’t played Pokemon Go?!”  “You stopped watching Downton Abbey?!”  “You didn’t like Fault in Our Stars?!”  “Wait, you’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte?!”  “You haven’t seen all of Sherlock – or read the books?!  AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A FAN?!”  I’ve had all of these things said to me.  And, yes, I’m guilty of all of them.  I haven’t played Pokemon Go, I stopped watching DA in the middle of the third season (for no reason in particular except the fact that it’s a soap opera and I have enough drama in my own life), I don’t love TFIOS, I’ve never had a PSL, I haven’t seen the last season of Sherlock or read all of the stories.

Does that make me a terrible person, though?

Nope.

Listen, just because somebody hasn’t seen or done a popular thing, it doesn’t make them a lesser person.  Not doing something doesn’t invalidate someone’s existence.

We can’t do it all.  So why do we pressure ourselves and others?

Just like I thought I was “behind” because I hadn’t seen Friends or still haven’t seen all of Gilmore Girls (and will probably binge on that with my sisters over the next few months in preparation for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life) or haven’t been to ComicCon or DragonCon or GeekyCon, other people feel the same way.  We’re pressured by society to experience everything that’s popular, especially music and movies and TV shows and books, but we’re also pressured to get off our rear ends and do something because all of our friends’ Instagram feeds are full of pictures of mountains and iconic places in foreign countries.

Our lives are expected to look like everyone else’s.  In Friends, all of the characters have finished college (except maybe Phoebe), gotten a job, and found an apartment.  That’s what society expects of us twenty-somethings.  And that’s great and all of those things should be desired.  But I’m almost twenty-two and I’m still living at home while finishing my degree.  I know friends in their mid-twenties who are still living at home, too, and are getting higher degrees or don’t have “real” jobs.  And that’s okay.

Just because something is the norm or part of pop culture doesn’t mean it’s automatically a part of everyone’s lives.  And discovering that that thing isn’t a part of someone else’s life doesn’t make them any lesser of a person – and it doesn’t make you any more of a person because it’s part of yours.

My existence isn’t lesser because I’m not seeing the world like some of my friends are, just like some of my friends don’t have a less fulfilled life because they’re not getting a degree like I am.

Do. not. guilt-trip someone just because they’re not interested in what you or a lot of the world is interested in.  If they want to stay at home and lay on the floor and just listen to music, let them do it!  If they want to use the money they earn to travel, let them do it!

Obviously you should compromise with your friends sometimes and obviously you should get out of your comfort zone and do stuff (or sometimes just relax and forego doing stuff). But it’s never okay to make someone feel bad for what they are or aren’t interested in.

More than that, maybe this friend is on to something.  If they’ll let you, lie down on the floor with them.  Ask if you can go on their next road trip with them.  You may be surprised and find yourself interested in the stuff they like to do, too.

So what do you think?  Have you felt pressured to do something by your friends or society, or have you pressured someone else?  Did you end up liking it?  Did they?  Leave a comment and let’s talk!

{This blog post is sponsored in part by my college coursework, which was gracious enough to be easy and let me finish it by ten in the morning – something that hasn’t happened since I was in elementary school.  THANK YOU.}

here comes the sun.

Christina Grimmie.  The Orlando shooting.  Anton Yelchin.

I don’t understand why bad things happen.  Sometimes I pretend to, just to make myself feel better.  And that’s wrong.

It’s not easy to function when all of these things hit us one after another.  Yesterday, after I heard about Anton, I cried for a while, and then wondered how I was supposed to “be on” today – school, work, everyday life – in the midst of all of this crushing sadness.

It’s not easy to trust God.  It’s not easy to think that His way is best.  This is why I fail most of the time.

Which is why it’s in those moments that I have to run to God and cling to Him.  Because it’s in those moments that He’s all I have left.

I’m learning to trust God through the pain.  It’s so incredibly hard and some days I don’t want to do it and some days I put my headphones on and listen to my screamo ukulele so I can have an excuse to scream and cry and blame it on twenty øne piløts.  But I always try to come back to God and go, “Listen, I don’t know why this is happening and I don’t know why You’re letting it happen, but I’m choosing to trust You despite it, so please help me through it and give me peace.”

I choose to hope.  I choose to trust.  I choose to have joy.  I choose to do this, because sometimes it’s all I can do.

(This is my favorite cover of Here Comes the Sun by one of my favorite people.  The song starts at 1:31.)

you, sir, are wrong. {a response to “an open letter to rey”}

you, sir, are wrong.

I made the mistake of reading Nathan Alberson’s article, “An Open Letter to Rey” at Starbucks, around other people.  To say I was livid would be an understatement.  I wanted to punch something.  Thankfully, I read two responses to the article (Mirriam’s and Jennifer’s), and my anger calmed a little.

HOWEVER.  Because I can’t keep my opinions to myself… I’ve decided to write my own response.  Read it or don’t read it, but this is my personal opinion.  If it offends anyone, I’m sorry, but I’m not backing down.

OKAY.

First of all, I completely agree that men and women have different roles, both in society and in God’s eyes.  Usually, the men are the breadwinners and the women are the… oh, I don’t know, helpmeet-stay-at-home moms.  That’s how it was in my homeschool circles, and I thought it was completely right.  (I still kind of do, even though I’ve learned that there are ALWAYS exceptions to the “rule” or stereotype or whatever.)

NEVERTHELESS.  To put men and women in a box like Mr. Alberson did is a travesty and it’s completely and totally wrong.  Like Jennifer said, the lines between masculinity and femininity are rarely black and white.  I know plenty of girls (including myself) who would rather shoot a gun or get their hands dirty than sew anything, just like I know plenty of guys who like to bake and paint and – GASP – dance.

Sure, there are God-ordained roles for men and women to play, but to say that women are the weaker sex and therefore only suitable for the kitchen or taking care of the kids?

UM, HOW ABOUT NO.

The way I see it, men and women are equal.  Because of verses in the Bible that talk about submission, I totally agree that women should submit to their husbands (not all men, though).  But men have to submit to God’s authority, too, or else they’re abusing their God-given right to have authority (but not total authority) over women (which is why so. many. marriages – especially where both husband and wife are Christians – end up in the gutter).  (See Phylicia Masonheimer’s post on why Biblical submission is dangerous.)

Women aren’t meant to be only there for men to save and defer to their much smarter male lead.  Women aren’t meant to be “protection objects” or “damsels in distress.”  Women aren’t put on earth solely to be a man’s wife or have kids.  Women are not less.  A woman’s worth is NOT defined by men.

And if a woman’s worth is wrapped up in what a man thinks about her, she’s got some work to do.

Women are loved by God just as much as men, and designed by Him for specific purposes in mind – yes, for helping their husbands to raise godly children and being keepers at home, but if we’re going to tout the Proverbs 31 woman, we also need to acknowledge that she’s able to earn money and buy things that will further her income and be hospitable to people other than her husband and family.

And another thing.  These three paragraphs were especially incorrect.

Men lie to themselves and women about the sort of women they want. Women are gullible and believe the lie and become the women they think men want. Then men reject them because men never wanted those sorts of women in the first place.

How is this the woman’s fault?  I. Don’t. Understand.  Women shouldn’t change themselves for a man (because men aren’t worth it) and men shouldn’t reject women because they’re not “their type.”

And men do reject them. Look at the divorce statistics, look at the TV shows and books and articles by women desperately wondering why it’s so hard to hold on to a man. That’s a bigger problem than the purview of this letter, but you fictional female warriors are part of it.

Men rejecting women because there’s more to a woman than the pleasures of her body or her willingness to submit to his whims is wrong – and it certainly isn’t the woman’s fault.  “Fictional female warriors” are definitely part of it, but certainly not for the reason you imply.  (More on that later.)

So stop it. I’m nobody’s idea of Prince Charming, but let me do my little part to rescue you from yourselves.

SHOCKINGLY ENOUGH, MR. ALBERSON… NOT ALL WOMEN WANT TO BE RESCUED.  Rescued by God, sure, but by a fallen, sinning man?  No thank you.

(And I’m going to stop responding to specific phrases because it’s making me too mad.  I need to take a break.  Brb.)

So what’s Mr. Alberson’s point?  Why does he think that Rey and Katniss and Leia and Black Widow and River Tam have no destiny other than… what???  He doesn’t even give his readers the courtesy to explain what he thinks women in these movies should be doing instead of being the strong heroines that they are.

(The only thing he says is that women are put on earth to be rescued by men and that women having the indecency to be anything more than that “robs men of their dignity.”  How egotistical is that?!  Men and women were put on earth for many more reasons than to simply fulfill one another.  If a man or woman’s identity is wrapped up in what the opposite sex – or anyone else – thinks of them, they have some serious work to do on their true identity.  REVELATION: Maybe – just maybe – that’s why people are so unfulfilled???  Shocking, I know.)

Every. Single. One. of the women were pulled out of their comfortable environments by outside circumstances and into something greater.  Rey wanted to wait for her family to return for her.  Katniss didn’t want to be Reaped.  Leia didn’t want her planet to blow up.  Natasha didn’t want to work for the Soviet Intelligence.  River Tam wanted an education so she could help people.

These women were made stronger because of the complex circumstances they were pulled into.  They weren’t destined for what they wanted – they were destined for making their world a better place, even though they went through struggles and incredibly hard trials.

If Rey hadn’t been pulled into helping Finn escape the Alliance,  she wouldn’t have discovered the truth about her family or saved Finn’s life and helped the Resistance fight against Kylo Ren.  If Katniss hadn’t been Reaped, Panem wouldn’t have escaped the tyrannical rule of President Snow.  If Leia hadn’t been kidnapped by Darth Vader, she wouldn’t have known the truth about her family or met Han Solo or {eventually} become chief commander of the Resistance.  If Natasha hadn’t been tracked down by Clint because of her status as an assassin, the aliens would have overtaken earth and Tony probably would’ve died and so would Steve and Bucky and SHIELD/Hydra’s information would still be secret.  And don’t even get me started on River.

It’s so ironic that Mr. Alberson would pick all of these characters because the stories that they’re involved in would be so different if they were doing what they’d originally wanted to do.  (See the previous paragraph.)  They all pass the Blechdel and Sexy Lamp tests.  They’re strong, well-rounded, and important to the plot.

MUCH LIKE REAL-LIFE WOMEN.

In my opinion, the world needs more characters like this – characters that prove to women that they’re needed, wanted, and important.  This is why I write books with strong female leads.  Too many female characters in books and movies are whiny, one-dimensional, flimsy girls whose only purpose is to further the male lead’s storyline.  (See almost every action film ever, especially the highly-irritating Mission Impossible II.)

That’s what movies are telling girls, Mr. Alberson – that they’re unimportant and only suitable as pretty companions for the uber-ripped male lead.  And when directors make movies that tell girls anything other than that, they should be applauded, not condemned.

So, ladies, keep watching movies with strong female characters.  You weren’t put on earth to define a man’s dignity or satisfy him.  Guys, you could definitely benefit from it, too.  Women aren’t your playthings – they’re precious individuals made by a God who loves them dearly.  JUST LIKE YOU.

Ladies and gentlemen, your worth is found in Christ alone, and not what anyone else thinks about you.  You will never be satisfied until you discover that.