Silence breeds silence. If no one is talking openly about their experiences with mental health, no one wants to be the first person to test the waters and see how the community responds. I understand this fear. I too have been scared to share my experience with mental illness. As a pastor, I feared telling members of my congregation that I had been diagnosed with situational depression during my years of infertility. I didn’t know if they would trust me with their concerns if they knew I was taking medication for a chemical imbalance. I have feared also for a few of my family members who have been diagnosed with serious mental illnesses; I have worried that they might be ostracized from their faith communities if they revealed the extent of their disorders. I am a church leader. If I have been scared of speaking up about my personal experiences with mental illness, I only can imagine the fear other members of the congregation must feel.
—Elizabeth Hagan, Brave Church: Tackling Tough Topics Together (Upper Room Books, 2021)
Who can support you in situations where you feel afraid to speak up about your experiences? Join the conversation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
—Psalm 27:1 (NRSV)
Prayer for the Week
Lord, grant me the patience and grace to listen, the courage and wisdom to question and speak; and the bravery to create safe space for tough topics.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.
Churches are not immune to violence, as we have seen from shootings at houses of worship across the nation. The challenge for faith communities is how to prepare for and respond to potential violence. In Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, author Rosalind Hughes asks congregational leaders to examine whether their operational and security policies are consistent with gospel values. Learn more here.
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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