If anyone has ever said to you that being a Christian was easy—that once you accepted Christ you would never experience frustration, depression, or anxiety—you should know that they were lying. In fact, if I’ve learned anything over the course of this last year, it’s that it is abundantly clear that trials don’t suddenly stop when you believe in God. It just doesn’t work like that.
This is kind of something that my good friend, Hunter Chenevey, has started to understand in his walk with God lately, and I’m glad to have gotten the chance to talk with him about what God is showing him in this season of his life.
Hunter is probably the coolest guy that I know just because he loves the Lord, he wants a relationship with Him, and he cares for the people around him. Hunter is very much an outgoing, loud, extroverted ball of laughter, so when Hunter told me that at the beginning of the semester he was experiencing depression and anxiety, you can imagine I was a little taken back.
Mental health is something that I’ve touched on a little bit here on Quirky Christianity, but it’s something that I believe can never be talked about enough. My conversation with Hunter totally debunked the stereotype that happy, outgoing people that have a lot of friends can’t experience mental health problems. The truth is that happiness is merely an emotion and emotions are subject to change.
Hunter spent this summer at Leadership Training in Colorado, and it was there that he worked alongside people from all over the world. He admitted that being surrounded by a group of intentional, collectivistic people was extremely encouraging for him, and when he returned to Ohio afterward, he also returned to our individualistic culture—and the difference was incredibly outstanding for him. Post-LT depression was something that many people experience after going through the program, but for Hunter, it hit a little deeper than what most people described.
Hunter is learning that mental health—anxiety, and depression etc—can affect anyone. Being a huge sports fan, Hunter was really encouraged by the words spoken regarding mental health from Kevin Love;
“Everyone is going through something that we can’t see.”
The biggest thing that Hunter is learning about God right now is that “God is God no matter what you’re feeling. He’s gonna work it out despite us, despite me and how I feel.”
For the first time, he understood what it felt like to feel unvalued and to feel like God wasn’t there. He’d heard people say that God is God through the storms, but before now, he never really “got” what that meant. Now, being at a place of clarity (even though he still experiences problems with mental health), he understands the difference between knowing something and feeling something. He said that he knows that God is there for him and that knowledge alone gives him hope.
Matthew 5:4 says,
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
1 Peter 5:7-9
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Hunter explained that these verses have been refreshing for him, and have served as a gentle reminder that he is not alone through these hard times. Along those lines, two songs that have been helpful for him include A Prayer by Kings Kaleidoscope and PEACE by Hillsong.
Here are some things that Hunter explained are helpful for him, and that we need to remember for when we don’t feel near to God because of anxiety and depression:
- You are not alone.
In the midst of anxiety and depression, it can be easy for us to believe that we’re alone—that no one else has been through what you’re feeling, and that you’re the first one. This is something Hunter realized in reading the scripture as he experienced this feeling of isolation: in 1 Peter 5:7-9, it’s clearly stated that other believers are going through this too, and they’re right there with you. We’re right here with you— and you are not alone.
2. God doesn’t want you to stay there.
God is a Good; He is a Good Father, and He has plans for you to prosper! It’s not His will for you to suffer, or for you to feel alone. He wants you. He knows you. He will rescue you. It might not seem like it, but this feeling you have will pass.
Talk. Talk. Talk! It’s totally fair to feel like you won’t be accepted, or like someone will invalidate what you’re going through. That’s the enemy talking. It’s the enemy’s goal for you to feel alone. Just like it says in 1st Peter—fight that. It is imperative for you to have a community of friends that know what you’re going through so they can pray on your behalf, and so you feel less alone. Hunter explained that it was hard for him to talk about, but it was so good for him just to say it out loud—even if it didn’t make any sense. “Talk about it no matter what.”
4. Recognize that this isn’t the last time you will feel like this.
Hunter said that this one was the hard one. He said that if I would’ve talked to him a couple of weeks ago, he wouldn’t have felt the same way he does now. He’s not completely out of this hole, but God has given him clarity and peace (as well as knowledge) to speak into this kind of situation. It stinks, but he knows that the anxiety and the depression that he felt will come back again. We live in a broken world, and until Jesus returns, we will experience emotional turmoil. Hunter said that right now, he is preparing for the next time this happens because the enemy isn’t gone just because he’s feeling better for a while. Hunter’s advice is to hold fast to hope and remember the words of John 16:33,
“Take heart because I have overcome the world.”
And lastly, Hunter wanted to remind everyone reading:
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Friends, there is no shame in asking for help. If you’re experiencing problems with mental health, please do not hesitate to reach out to a friend, family member, or another loved one. You belong, you are loved, you are wanted, and you are not alone.
the number for the national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255
we’re here for you. He’s here for you. we want you here.