Hello, dear friend.
Before we dive into today’s thoughts on faith + mental health, I have some super exciting news!
Over the weekend, I received an email from my friend Aundi Kolber, author of Try Softer, officially accepting my invitation to write the foreword for my upcoming book, Slow Miracles.
I could NOT be more excited! Aundi’s work has greatly influenced my life, and having her words as the opening for my next book is such a big honor.
If you missed the cover reveal a couple of weeks ago, here it is again…
Now, onto today’s thoughts on faith + mental health…
*trigger warning: sexual assault
You know, having a mental illness can leave you feeling unseen. People forget to invite you out to parties. Friends may not call to check up on you. Add a version of Christianity that doesn’t make room for folks who struggle and you can be left feeling all alone.
But God sees you. That’s why Hagar, Egyptian slave of Abraham and Sarah, called God “El Roi” or “the God who sees me”.
Close your eyes.
Do you see her there?
Dying for something to drink.
So hot that her tears evaporate in seconds.
She’s been abandoned by the only kind of family she had, which was no kind of family at all. Not just abandoned, but first betrayed and abused.
She’s running: out of wind and out of hope.
Hagar collapses into the dust with a thud. Through the blowing sands, she sees a figure. Could it be a mirage? Oh, God, has Sarah sent men to retrieve me?!
Suddenly, the wind stops and a voice pierces through the loneliness of that desert: “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarah, where have you come from and where are you going?”
Nervously, Hagar tries to clear her throat, but she is so parched she nearly cries out from the pain. Eventually, she responds, “I am running away from my mistress, Sarah.”
Notice, she doesn’t name a place. Hagar doesn’t say she is fleeing a certain city or town. She’s running from a person. How many of us have ever fled from the abuse or neglect of a person?
For the person who has had pieces of their soul ripped away, their inner peace torn to shreds, safety sounds like the most wonderful (and impossible) thing in the world. Safety must have seemed impossible for Hagar, too.
Exhausted, Hagar falls on her face in the presence of the One she names, “El Roi: The God Who Sees Me.” In one rabbinic interpretation, Hagar says to God: “You are the God of Seeing, who sees the humiliation of the humbled.”
And in the New Revised Standard Version, she asks, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?”
Her question is similar to that of John the Baptist in Matthew 11. Locked in prison, assuming the end is near, he hears of the work Jesus is doing and sends a messenger, saying, “Is it really you, Jesus?” The incredulity, the shock and bewilderment, hang in the air.
And Jesus responds simply, “Come and see.”
The same God who saw a scared, runaway slave and loved her deeply sees you, the scared person with a mental illness and He loves you deeply.
Can I say a prayer for you today, friend?
God, I know my friend feels unseen and ignored by the rest of the world. mental illness can be so isolating. But You see my friend. You love them deeply and You care about their pain. Remind them that You are close to them today.
Holding you in the Light of El Roi,
P.S. Portions of this email are snippets of my upcoming book, Hiding in the Pews. Download the Foreword, Introduction, and Chapter 1 for free at HidingInThePews.com today.
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