In a short time, I will be celebrating the milestone of my first published book–Led to the Stream: Refreshing in Life’s Valley. I am grateful to God for the opportunity to share my story and journey with people who feel that they have reached the lowest point of their lives. The goal of the book is to let anyone know that there is more after challenging seasons. God will help you navigate through the difficult moments to become a better version of yourself that the world desperately needs.
While all of these ideas are necessary to be explored in written form, I must admit that this past week has challenged me more than ever to take time to address some taboo in our world. Normally, I might take the time to address the injustices that plague our social commentary. At other moments, my keys would lead me to type about the supremacist complex dominating all areas of media. Yet, I want to take this moment to do something that is totally against my personality. I want to share an inconvenient truth.
In 36 years of living, many different numbers represent markers along my journey. 20 is the number years of preaching years I will celebrate on February 13th. 7/11/14 is the date of birth of my son, Charles Jeremiah. 8/18/12 is the date I married my wife, Myrissa. 4 is the number of degrees I have received. 5/31/92 is the date of my conversion to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. However, one number has loomed over my life that I am no longer afraid to address–3. The number three is the number of times that I attempted suicide.
What? Why? You are a believer. You could not possible have that much going on.
These ideas and comments by people are part of the reason for me deciding to put a different face on mental and emotional health. For many years, people have struggled to find themselves in safe spaces where they can begin to sort through the challenges mental and emotional baggage stemming from traumatic moments and events in the past and present. People are living in an existence where Christians call depression, PTSD, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and many other conditions demonic and evil spirits. That type of misguided theology has caused more pain and suffering for people gifted and loved by God than anyone else.
To take it another step, the culture of denial regarding inner pain and suffering has made other silent suffers continue to hide in the shadows rejecting help and aid in the time of greater struggle and need. It is like the condition of the Gaderene Demoniac. No, I am not speaking of his mental, emotional, and spiritual condition. I speak to the community’s method of handling his plight.
Yes, the text say he was possessed by many demons. Yes, he broke chains and fetters regularly. However, I find it interesting that the people had enough wherewithal to chain and bind the man among the dead. People wrote off the humanness of the individual, because they were ill equipped to handle the difficulties in this man’s life.
Don’t focus on the miracle action of Jesus casting the demons away. Watch the initial actions of Jesus. Jesus went to the graveyard, approached the man, and asked him his name. Jesus established relationship/fellowship with the man that allowed him to expose his thinking and condition. Once he opened himself, Jesus gave what he had that led to the possessed man’s freedom. Funny. One moment of caring about the humanity of a chain man led to him returning home to his family and spread the message of his freedom.
I feel this brother. I remember the isolation. I remember the fear. I recognize the stigmas that come with confessing such hurt. I have encountered the loneliness. I listened to the comments of past love interest labeling me as a “spoiled only child” when I just needed comfort from my internal turmoil (one of many reasons why I didn’t marry her, thank God). Depression has been a powerful, familiar companion.
I am grateful that when life condemned me to the graveyard, God sent an authentic disciple by to speak to my broken humanity. I thank God for Jackie Brown, who cared about her pastor. I am honored that Derrick Holmes is a friend who just wants to make sure I’m tranquio. I am grateful for Jonathan McReynolds who called me in the nick of time before I finished the suicide note. I am grateful for Myrissa who walk me off the cliff of life. Randy Osborn and Eric Buell took the time to address the humanity of an African American male who faced lies of ruthless people. I thank God for Thomas Beavers, Jason and Melissa Flowers, Chris Russey, James Anderson, Michael Jackson, LiAndrea Goatley, Tammie Bradley, Mario Radford, and countless others who caught me at moments of my undergrad and adult existence that they may or may not know.
So many have caught me at crippling moments, but what about others like me? If you have read this publication today, I need and implore you to take a moment an examine your place in changing the dynamic and conversation about mental and emotional health. If you are not well versed, it is ok. I challenge you not to live in the denial of its existence. If you want to be the change, take the first step to love then learn. You may never know how far it will aid somebody in doing the greatest thing a human can do–get back up!
#mental #emotional #spiritual #grateful #reflectionsatthestream