By Hannah Brzozowski
*This blog was adapted from Hannah's message, Therapy and Theology, on 5/14/23. You can listen to it on our podcast here.
I remember it clear as day. I grabbed my phone and went into a closet at my church office and closed the door. I was literally shaking when I googled the number and left a message. The contents of the message, you ask? “Hi, my name is Hannah Brzozowski. Umm...My husband and I were looking to possibly make an appointment for some um… marriage counseling. My number is….”
I hung up the phone and stepped out of the office to see if anyone had heard me. To see if my boss or co-workers had seen me strangely making a secret phone call in a closet. Thankfully - they were nowhere to be found. I couldn't believe that it had gotten to the point, that I, a "strong" Christian, needed counseling.
I did it. I took the first step in getting help.
Something was clearly off in our marriage but also in me. I didn't know it at the time but that one phone call, would be a huge step for me in getting healthy, mentally, spiritually, and physically. I had decided to take back control - even though it was shaky. Even though I wasn’t fully confident in myself. I did it.
I’m not sure where you’re at today. Maybe you're like I was - terrified of therapy because that meant that there’s something wrong with you, or you’re a huge champion for therapy and mental health but you don’t really see how God ties in with any of it.
Wherever you land today, we have a problem in our country and in our churches.
19% (estimated 48 million people) suffer from Anxiety Disorders.
21% of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. have a serious mental health condition.
37% of adults incarcerated in the state and federal prison system have a diagnosed mental illness.
Trauma is all over the place: 1 in 3 women have been sexually abused; 1 in 6 boys.
Oh and to make matters worse, 30-40% of churches think mental illness is only a spiritual issue.
It not only affects us today, it’s always affected mankind since the very beginning. Throughout the Bible, we see people who struggled with their mental health. There was Saul, who most likely had bipolar disorder. Samson was suicidal. Legion was demon possessed - which most likely meant mentally ill. David, Jonah, and Job all had depression. Even Jesus, himself, was called insane by people.
When reading these stories, we see some who are able to push through and others who don’t and ultimately come to their own demise.
I want you to imagine with me… you were just at the center of two miracles. Two miracles that no one can say weren’t from God.
The first was fire coming down from the sky and burning up everything after being completely doused in water.
The second miracle was praying for rain to come after a three-year drought. After you prayed, the rain came.
In addition, you know that God let you be pivotal in both miracles coming to be. And both miracles demonstrated God's mighty power to everyone.
But, the people aren't repenting. They aren't worshiping. There's no great revival.
Instead, they want you dead. In fact, you have a bounty on your head for one day from today. You have done everything you can possibly think of to try to accomplish your goal: winning this country back to God. You can’t think of how this will possibly happen now. If these two major miracles didn’t do it, it’s an impossible task that you’ve been given.
Have you ever felt like this? Felt like you’ve done EVERYTHING possible to succeed. EVERYTHING that’s in your mind to spread the word about your business or tell your family member about Jesus or push your nonprofit forward or you’ve tried everything to get your kid to listen to you. There’s nothing else to do.
To make matters worse, you are the person that everyone thinks is doing great. After all, God's used you so much in your life. How can you ask for help when everyone assumes you're just fine?
So what do you do? Well if you’re Elijah, the guy we’re talking about today, you run. And when you finish running, you say: “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
How many of us have had enough? How many of us have said - I can’t do this anymore? There’s nothing left in you to give.
In this blog, we get to see how God healed Elijah during his mental health crisis.
1. Collect the practical tools.
1 Kings 19:5-9:
“Then he lay down and slept… But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.”
The angel here gave Elijah some very practical tools to start to feel better. He gave him water, bread, and rest. For us today, it could be as simple as eating better or drinking some water or it could be something deeper that we need.
That’s where therapists come in. They can help us and give us practical tools to overcome the issues in our minds.
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22
Over the years, I've gotten a lot of practical advice from my therapists. Tools to help me in the journey of life.
Here are just a few tools and insights I've gained:
My feelings are like whispers because I’ve pushed them down for so long. So I have to listen really carefully to them or they’ll explode.
I’ve been able to do some EMDR therapy to help get past some trauma. This is something that I couldn't do on my own. I needed a trained professional.
She’s given me advice about boundaries and friendships. I shouldn't share everything with everyone. There are some things that I should just share with a few, others that I can share with about a dozen, and then the least to the crowds.
Sleep hygiene is important. Your bedtime routine matters. This means being intentional about screen time before bed and preparing your mind for sleep. If you don't face your anxieties from the day, you'll just worry about those same things at night in your dreams.
But it doesn’t just work for me… A study found that between 60% and 65% of people experienced significant symptomatic relief within one to seven psychotherapy sessions. This number increased to 70%-75% after six months, and 85% after one year.
The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5
If you're in the midst of a mental health crisis, get the practical tools you need from a mental health professional! If Elijah can accept help, so can you.