“A seed neither fears light nor darkness, but uses both to grow.”
— Matshona Dhliwayo
I wish I could tell you that I start my day with meditation or daily prayer, but that would be a lie and I probably shouldn’t lie to my local newspaper. Instead, I let my dogs out, make my breakfast, then sit down on the couch and watch “The Office” for the 698th time; no, that’s not a lie. After I eat my breakfast, I reach for my pill container. I crack open that little blue box and dump the assigned day’s concoction into my hand: my daily vitamin, three yellowish clear bubbles of Vitamin D, and 20 mg of Paxil.
I started taking Paxil almost six years ago, after a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression. I often tell people that I have high-functioning anxiety, because most people see me as a warm, friendly, capable and organized adult. I love my work as the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church. I have lots of friends and hobbies. I like to volunteer and support local organizations. And yet, I need 20 mg a day to help fight the hamster wheel of anxious thoughts in my body.
As a Christian, I wish Jesus had said a lot more about what to do when your body chemistry needed more help than a multivitamin or Vitamin D. As a Christian, I wish Jesus had said a lot more about what to do when even with that 20 mg, you still feel lost and lonely, feeling like you’re too much for the world and not enough at the same time.
But while I cannot isogete pharmaceuticals in Jesus’s ministry, I have to believe that for all of the times Jesus went off by himself to pray (Luke 4:1-2, 14-15; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12-13; Matthew 14:1-13; Mark 6:30-32; and so on), he was also doing some important work on his mental health. He stepped back from his ministry, from his work, from his friends, from his commitments, and spent time within himself to become centered again. He didn’t have vitamins or anything in a little blue container that we know of, but he did take the time to check in with himself and to take care of himself.
Being upfront with what this 20 mg means for me and who I am with my particular body chemistry is not to make you worry about me, but to share my experience of mental health in this time. We are all seeds in this world, no matter how old you are, and we need all of it to grow — the light, the dark, the dirt, the crap, the water, the life. Keep growing, dear people, and do not shame the parts of you that you’d rather keep hidden. Honor it, name it, claim it, and let it be a part of your story of growth.
The Rev. Meredith Harber serves as the pastor to Christ Lutheran Church, 128 N. Soldotna Ave., Soldotna. Worship is at 10 a.m. on Sundays in person and livestreamed on their Facebook page.