According to the National Association of Mental  Health, 1 in 5 Americans will report suffering  from a mental health illness. In truth, it’s likely a  higher number because people often  underreport when it comes to mental health for  a variety of reasons like shame, fear, or  embarrassment.

One might think the numbers can’t be as high  for church-going Christians. The assumption is  that those with a strong faith should experience  peace, joy, purpose, and connectedness. However, just as many Christians report  struggling with mental health issues, which is  also underreported for many of the same  reasons save one, Christians face more stigmas  than non-church-going people because of the  misunderstanding that a strong faith should  cancel out mental health challenges. And it’s  not just church members; according to Lifeway  Research, 23 percent of pastors acknowledge  they have personally struggled with a mental  illness, but only 49 percent say they’ve spoken  to their congregation about mental health.
You. may have heard that Abraham Lincoln,  former president and man of faith, battled  depression. You may not have heard that  Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who  impacted millions of lives around the globe, also struggled with depression. Though never  diagnosed, her writings to her spiritual director  showed a woman who did so much for God but  rarely sensed God’s presence and often  struggled to find peace.
I, too, have had my struggle with mental health. Seventeen years ago, I was diagnosed with a  general anxiety disorder with a side of  depression (those two often go together). The  first two years after my diagnosis were some of  the darkest times of my life, but with lots of  counseling, the help of a physician, the support  of my family, my journey of faith as supported by  close friends and a father in my faith, and a lot  of hard work, I’m in a much better space, and I  continue to grow in an understanding of my  challenges and my faith.

In this new series that we’re calling Un/Broken,  we’ll look at some of the myths related to  mental health and faith and then tackle stories  and characters from Scripture that we think  relate to mental health. We hope that as we go  through this journey, we’ll at least accomplish  three things:
We’ll help remove the stigma many have  around mental health, especially involving our  communities of faith, and create spaces where  it’s encouraged to talk about these things.
We’ll debunk some of the false expectations  around mental health and faith and help you
see that addressing mental health issues must  be done on a spiritual level, physically, mentally,  and emotionally.

And finally, through this series, we’ll all  recognize that though we are broken people,  we have hope in a Savior who experienced what  we do and can empathize with our journeys. And that same Savior desperately wants to help  us find healing here on earth as we journey  toward the ultimate day of restoration when we  see him face to face.
Our guiding metaphor for this series comes  from the Japanese art form called kintsugi. Developed centuries ago, this process takes  broken pottery and restores it using a special  tree sap lacquer dusted with gold, silver, or  platinum. The gold highlighted the breaks and  fractures instead of hiding them and  pretending they didn’t exist. The Japanese  believed this was a beautiful way to celebrate  the history of the pottery, cracks, and all.  

Our human stories are similar. We all have our  wounds and scars from our time on earth. When we meet Christ and join a community of  faith, restoration is possible, but there can still  be scars from the journey. However, those scars  often serve not just as reminders of our healing  but as opportunities for us to help others in their  own paths towards healing.
We hope you’ll follow along each day, and listen  in each week as we illuminate what it means to  be a people who are truly, Un/Broken. 

Paddy McCoy, David Ferguson, Timothy  Gillespie, and the Un/Broken Series Guide Team

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