Praying about mental health

Originally appeared online in the teen series: Trending - August 8, 2018

As she looked out the window, my friend saw a path leading deep into the dark woods. It called out to her. It seemed to say, “Take this path; then you’ll see your friend again.” She had recently lost someone very dear to her, and this path into the woods was tempting because it seemed to offer a solution. If she died, too, she could be with her friend again.

“I saw that I could make a choice,” my friend told me. “I chose not to go down that path. I realized I wanted to live.” She made a point of not even looking out the window at the path, because she wanted to be steadfast in her commitment to choosing life. About two weeks later, however, my friend happened to look out that window again, and she was surprised by what she saw. So many plants had sprung up that the path had almost completely disappeared. My friend went forward with her life, embracing new opportunities for friendship and spiritual growth.

This was a real experience, but our ability to choose whether we follow a path into darkness is also a helpful metaphor for dealing with mental health issues. Whatever the label for the issue—depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, or something else—you may have dealt with it yourself, or know someone who has. If we ourselves are beckoned to go down one of these paths, it might even feel as though we are powerless to resist.

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