When My Mental Illness Makes Me Question if God Loves Me
Editor’s note: This post discusses suicide and self-harm, and may be triggering. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255,
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 or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
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