Skip to content
Need some Easter Sermon inspiration? Check out our Easter Sermon Collection Learn more
Go back

Celebrate Recovery

Testimony: Jesus’ Power In Mental Health

By Paul

I am a faithful, dedicated, and serving believer in Jesus Christ who has struggled with mental illness, including self-worth and fear. My name is Paul.

In 1986, the case of Jessica McClure captivated a nation. Jessica fell into a well shaft and became stuck. She was trapped alone in a dark place. I can relate to “Baby Jessica” because this is how I have felt living with mental illness.

In “Baby Jessica’s” situation, people were trying to reach her by digging a parallel tunnel next to the well she was trapped in. However, when I was in my own dark place, I didn’t recognize those who were desperately trying to reach me.

The relationship between my mother and I was close, but it was almost non-existent with my father. He wasn’t a bad father; he just wasn’t there emotionally. I made efforts to try to win my dad’s approval. I developed a poor self-image, low self-worth, fear of rejection, and considerable anger.

I was labeled based on my appearance. The labels hit like darts on my self-worth. I was angry, in a dark place in my mind, and I felt powerless to do anything about it. My temper and anger would become my emotional bodyguard.

I grew up in a culture of “children should be seen and not heard.” So, I became quiet in the hopes that people would not even notice me. However, I was still picked on and bullied.

My mother left our family’s home when I was a teenager. It was just my father and me, but I wanted to be with my mother. However, I wanted to finish my schooling, and I felt confused and conflicted. I was angry that my mother left me with my father.

Mental illness was not discussed when I was growing up. Anger, isolation, and silence became a way of life and a major thorn in my flesh. I broke many things in anger during my adolescent years. I became quite good at repairing the things I destroyed, to avoid being confronted.

The culture I was raised in taught me to “keep a stiff upper lip and don’t let anyone know what is getting to you.” I practiced ignoring my feelings and stuffing my problems, hoping they would just go away. My feelings and problems didn’t go away; in fact, they got worse. Denial, avoidance and ignorance were my normal. My normal was dysfunctional. Under the surface, my anger manifested as distrust, dislike, unreasonable expectations and judgment of others.

I joined the military in an attempt to get my emotions under control. However, in the military, I developed a bigger attitude, stiffer upper lip and greater self-reliance. In my self-reliance and military training, I began to believe I was invincible. I even had a uniform as my armor. I could present one thing on the outside and keep hidden what was going on inside my mind. This is how I kept people at arm’s length, and I had a chip on my shoulder the size of a small planet.

Exiting the military was not my choice and this added to my sense of worthlessness and anger. I looked at myself with a heightened level of disgust because I was still unable to get my destructive emotions under control. I would ask myself, “What’s wrong with me? Especially after being implanted with the military’s ‘can do it all’ attitude, why can’t I control this?”

I thought that moving six-thousand-miles and changing my scenery would fix things, but I was wrong! During a conversation with a new neighbor, who was also a pastor, I was invited to church. Skeptically, I began attending. The first time I went, I expected nothing more than a fight. But I was welcomed with open arms and actual acceptance. I didn’t know at the time that this was the beginning of my recovery journey.

During a storm outbreak later that year, God used three tornados to get my attention. I thought I was going to die and said, “Okay, God if it’s my time, take me. But please spare the kids. If it’s not my time, then please direct my life.”

Shortly after that experience, I was asked to be involved in the startup of a Celebrate Recovery. I was initially offended. I knew I needed something, but I wasn’t one of “those people.” This thought was immediately followed by, “Why would anyone want this worthless shell of a human being?” At this point, I hadn’t linked all my emotional gymnastics and my mental health together.

After going through the Celebrate Recovery material, I began to peel back the emotional artichoke. I learned tools that helped me deal with my emotions. I had honest conversations about my feelings. I learned that it’s okay express my feelings and that it’s okay to not be okay.

Today, I am not devoid of my feelings or emotions! However, I am using the tools learned in Celebrate Recovery, combined with conversations with sponsors, accountability partners, counselors and family to face my personal mental health with confidence. This confidence has provided a new sense of peace in my life.

If you feel isolated, please know there are people who care– people who are trying to dig a tunnel to show you that you are loved and that you matter. You are important and there is hope for you, too. For many years, I was without hope. I didn’t even know what hope was. Today, I know real hope. I have experienced God’s promises of hope, purpose and satisfaction.

The tools I learned in Celebrate Recovery have helped me build a solid relationship with God. And that vertical relationship with God is empowering all my other relationships.

Keep coming back.

Thank you for letting me share.

Related Posts

Subscribe to Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox

Weekly Email for Pastors and Church Leaders

    We care about your data. Read our privacy policy.

    Pastor Rick Warren smiling