I’m a bit of a cricket fan and have been watching England play India in India. Because of the pandemic, cricketers are required to be in a secure bubble where they can’t go out and do normal things to protect everyone from the virus. This has meant staying in a hotel at the ground or very near the ground and having no escape from your colleague or job and are separated from your family for long periods of time. Some of the England cricket team aren’t staying for the whole tour because they mentally and physically need a break and the team management are very hot on mental health and helping the players with it, whether that be through time out or other means.
During this pandemic, many of us have struggled with our mental health – possibly for the first time, or it may be something that has been there in the background and has come more to the fore during this time. When we struggle with our mental health it affects a lot of the areas of our lives, including our relationship with God. And it doesn’t always affect our relationship with God in good ways. Often it can leave us feeling a number of different ways:
God Doesn’t Feel Near – Where Are You? I used to feel a sense of connection, but I can’t feel you with me.
We Don’t Feel Good Enough for God’s Love. This is exacerbated because we struggle to read the Bible and to pray and that makes us feel guilty, unworthy, ashamed and rubbish and because of that we shy away and don’t spend time with him or ask him for his help.
I’ve struggled for years with my mental health and it is still a work in progress, particularly during lockdown and this pandemic and so I want to give you a few tips to try if you are struggling with your faith in this time.
- Be kind to yourself because God is incredibly kind to us. We are saved and loved by Grace and not by works – it’s not about what we can do to impress God, it’s about what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Take the pressure off yourself.
- If you can’t read the scriptures can you listen to them or listen to worship music? There is something about filling our minds with the truth that does something to them and to us spiritually. It may calm us down a bit, it may help us to encounter God a bit, it may just enable us to have a bit of time and space to breathe.
- If you do read the scriptures, read small chunks of it and try and lean key verses – verses that remind you of who God is and how he sees you which you can call to mind when you feel distant and rubbish. Here’s a couple you could start with:
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” Heb 4: 16
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” Rom 8:1-2
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Phil 1:6
- Talk to Someone About How You Are Feeling. Whether that is a friend, a family member or your local GP. There is no shame in struggling with our mental health. In the past it has been a taboo subject that people have been embarrassed about and has been a subject that churches haven’t handled well by telling people to pull themselves together and just trust God. If only it were that easy! Talk to someone and seek help if you need it. There is no shame. I was assigned to a mental health nurse and had to meet with them every week for about 6 months in my late 20s because I was really struggling with my mental health. The nurse was great and really helpful. It was just what I needed. I am not ashamed of that.
- Ask someone to be praying for you.
Just as a caveat at the end, if you are not struggling with your mental health, that’s great. Please please do pray for others who are and please be kind in your words and getting alongside them just as God is kind with those of us who struggle he says:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
May you know the peace, strength, hope and presence of God as you walk into this day and this week ahead. He is there with you. He loves you. He will help you.