Processing Life: Heartbreak, Hope, and Help
I was sitting in a staff meeting when I heard the news. My heart was in shock and so grieved.
The last few days have been plastered with the news of Jarrid Wilson.
My heart feels grieved for Juli and their two precious boys.
I remember Jarrid before he was a pastor. He was a guy passionately serving Jesus and using his gifts. He was kind and caring. He helped me create my blog and find my voice in writing. I read his devotional book when I lived in Haiti and even shared it with those needing to hear God’s word. His love for Jesus spread across the nation and social media spectrum. He was an influencer.
Jarrid was an amazing pastor and advocate for mental health. Sometimes what we struggle with the most is also what we advocate for the most. My heart is saddened that Jarrid lost his battle to mental illness, but as his wife Juli stated on social media regarding Jarrid, “No more struggle. You are made complete and you are finally free. Suicide and depression fed you the worst lies, but you knew the truth of Jesus and I know you’re by His side right this very second.” Juli went on to share that “suicide doesn’t get the last word. I won’t let it. You always said, ‘Hope gets the last word. Jesus gets the last word.’ Your life’s work has led thousands to the feet of Jesus and your boldness to tell others about your struggle with anxiety and depression has helped so many other people feel like they weren’t alone.”
Like Jarrid, I have a deep passion as an advocate for mental health and soul care, and the significance of therapy. If you have journeyed with me over the last year, you know it has been filled with highs and lows, and life-changing events. Those highs have been defining moments, but the lows left me feeling unwelcome and unworthy. I now know that those feelings of unworthiness were lies, but in the moment they felt like truths being screamed through a megaphone. It was those lies that led to deep trauma. I believe that trauma is worth talking about. It is real, and sometimes to move forward, you have to embrace the pain. There is hope.
Therefore, after much prayer and council, I sought professional help and began doing EMDR. EMDR is a type of therapy that stands for “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing”. The main goal of EMDR is to alleviate the stress that comes from experiencing traumatic events. “After successful treatment with EMDR therapy, affective distress is relieved, negative beliefs are reformulated, and physiological arousal is reduced. EMDR therapy uses a three-pronged protocol: (1) the past events that have laid the groundwork for dysfunction are processed, forging new associative links with adaptive information; (2) the current circumstances that elicit distress are targeted, and internal and external triggers are desensitized; (3) imaginal templates of future events are incorporated, to assist the client in acquiring the skills needed for adaptive functioning” (emdr.com).
It was through EMDR that I was able to begin processing the events of this past year. These events triggered feelings of unworthiness and I often found myself filled with anxiety in certain social situations. As a result, I prayed for direction for several weeks, and after much prayer, I left the place I thought God had created for me to be in community. However, because I believe God speaks through significant dates and timelines, after eight weeks of reaching the goal I committed to, and eight months of stepping into something new, I departed.
Eight is the number of new beginnings, and it was time for me to begin again. Sadly, as I stepped into that new beginning, I had to deal with the baggage and shrapnel from all that happened.
However, I want to share with you, not the details of my sessions, but that I completed my final EMDR session this week. Twelve sessions of deep work, tear-stained cheeks, snot bubbles, and prayers. Twelve is the number of perfection and God’s authority and He revealed so much to me during these last few months of processing.
So I want to encourage you if you’re needing it today that the journey of therapy is worth it, especially if you’ve struggled with trauma, anxiety, depression or questioned your worth. Even if you haven’t suffered a traumatic event, I go to my therapist as often as I get my hair done. Seeing my therapist is like a checkup and processing with an old friend that doesn’t have an agenda or a biased opinion. I started going to therapy initially years ago, not because there was an issue, but because I believe that the better I knew and understood myself the better I would interact with my friends, family, and spouse. Therapy has been the greatest investment that I could make in myself and in my spiritual journey. Jesus has met me in the most profound ways when I invited Him into the depths of my heart and my healing of my mind, body, and soul. My journey through mental health hasn’t been easy and the journey isn’t over. It is so important to be honest with those in your life with where you’re at, get into community, and seek professional help and prayer. It’s okay to not be okay, it’s just not okay to stay there and do it alone in isolation. Contact the church office for more information.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.