When My Mental Illness Makes Me Question if God Loves Me
At first, the idea that anyone could love me seemed impossible.
My mind had told me I was unlovable for so long, it became an accepted fact of life to me.
Despite that, in my heart I know the truth: God has never left me. Not once through my daily struggle has he abandoned me or turned his back, even when I had.
I know he cares for me very much. But my mental illness often tells me he doesn’t or that I’m not worthy of his love. And in a way, that voice is right. I don’t feel worthy of God’s love. Still, there’s hope. Because Jesus died so I could be worthy, mental illness and all.
Mental illness told me I was too broken to be saved, told me after everything, there was no hope for my life. I had made too many mistakes and kept too many secrets to ever be loved again.
I doubted, not in Christianity, but in myself. I had spent so many years lost, I didn’t know how to forgive myself. Others were easy. I hold no anger towards people who have physically hurt me, nor toward the people who told me to kill myself. I have not yet learned how to forgive myself for listening to them. To anyone else this may sound ridiculous.
For years I have struggled with the idea God loves me. How could God love me when I spent years wishing to be dead? How could he love me with how much hurt I carry within my soul? How could he forgive me when I have not yet forgiven myself? How could he love me when I’m constantly questioning?”
God, why has this hurt happened? Why does it follow me?
I felt uncomfortable in churches, like I was pretending to be someone else, someone who hadn’t spent the night before crying and bandaging self-harm wounds. Someone who didn’t pray for God to simply let me die. I stayed in the back, with my long sleeves to cover the faded scars on my arms and an exit a few feet away. Some days I spent the whole time hiding in the bathroom.
It never occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t have to hide. Maybe I can be Christian and mentally ill. Maybe I could be loved for who I am one day. After all, isn’t that what I’m called to do? 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, let us love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” So maybe I can be honest about who I am without fear. It’s an idea that is both hopeful and terrifying to me, and I hope one day I won’t be hiding in the back, keeping my thoughts and questions to myself. I hope one day I say, without a shadow of doubt, that I know God loves me, scars and all. I hope I can show compassion to the others hiding in the back of the room, unsure of their places. I see you. I know how you feel. It can get easier. It’s hard, but it can get easier.
Church is a place that’s hard for me to be. It’s hard to be there when I feel so undeserving and lost. But I go because I love God and I believe with my whole heart he has seen me through moments where I should have died, moments that are still too painful to write about, and even though church may never be an easy place for me, I go.
I’ve learned for now that’s what matters.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Photo by Karl Fredrickson, via Unsplash