Mental Illness Does Not Define You

Mental Illness

Over the years I have learned a very important lesson that mental illness does not define me.

It does not define you either.

Yes! There are days, weeks, months, and even years when it doesn’t feel that way–but it’s true.

Pastor Rick Warren said in a recent sermon,

“Your [mental] illness is not your identity, your chemistry is not your character.”

That quote means even more when you realize he has lived it. His son Matthew recently took his life. He was only 27 and struggled with mental illness his whole life. I highly recommend that you watch the video sermon in its entirety here.

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I wanted to share the 6 stages of loss from Rick’s sermon that moved me to tears. I hope you are encouraged today that no matter what you are struggling with (anxiety, depression, etc) God knows and He sees you!

“We know that life doesn’t make sense. We can STILL have peace because we know God is with us and that God loves us. Life is a battle and we can have hope. We grieve with hope because we know the end of the story. You don’t need an explanation, you need God–His presence. When we go through intense pain we are tempted to believe God forgot about you. Everything on earth is broken but we can still have joy because God is good. He has a greater purpose and a greater plan” (Rick and Kay Warren).

6 Stages of Loss

1. Shock (your world is thrown upside down, a human emotion)

2. Sorrow (a godly emotion, it’s okay to grieve)

3. Struggle (when you ask the “why” questions?)

4. Surrender (if you want peace, stop asking and start surrendering and accepting. It’s the only path to peace)

5. Sanctification (when you begin to transform, a BIG Bible word, meant to make you more godly)

6. Service (God wants to take your greatest pain and turn it into your life message. He wants to use your message for a message, your test for a testimony)

Talk it Through

1. When we are in pain, it is natural for us to start looking for a reason. We think that having the explanation will remove our anguish. But the truth is, pain is not soothed by knowing “why.” Pain is relieved by knowing God loves you and is with you. How did the presence of God comfort you and change you through a difficult time?

2. Read Hebrews 13:5 and Isaiah 43:2. When we are feeling overwhelmed, what truths in these scriptures help restore our hope? Why is knowing that God is with you essential in helping you recover from trauma or pain?

“The earth suffers for the sins of the people, for they have twisted the instructions of God, violated his laws, and broken his covenant. Therefore… the earth has broken down and has utterly collapsed. Everything is lost, abandoned, and confused” (Isaiah 24:5, 19).

3. There is nothing perfect on this planet—our bodies, our relationships, our minds—but we can choose joy. Jesus declared to his disciples that while in this world you will have trouble, you can take heart because he has overcome the world (see John 16:33). Have you ever experienced a time when you needed to hold on to Jesus’ words?

“We can have joy even in our troubles because we know that these troubles produce endurance. And endurance produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will not disappoint us, because God has poured his love to fill our hearts” (Romans 5:3-5).

4. Read Romans 5:3-5. What does Paul say is the end result of trouble? What has God given us as assurance? If you did not hear the entire message from Rick and Kay Warren, The Talk It Over team highly recommends you do so to hear Kay’s full message on finding hope when hope seems lost. You can find it at:

[Talking It Over is taken from]

Photo: theskywatcher, Flickr]