Mental health and pizza

Let me tell you the story of pizza that saves lives.

Well, friends save lives, Jesus saves lives, but pizza is sometimes the simple tool that God uses to make a difference.

We were in the middle of a mental health crisis. No one really likes to talk mental health. We have some level of basic communication on the topic, some good, some unhelpful, general phrases, like

“You should go see a counselor.”

“God brings good out of everything.”

“You’ve got to keep on top of that, make good choices.”

If there was ever a disease we were afraid of catching it’s mental health. There are no Puffs commercials for depression, no home health ad for schizophrenia. Even anxiety is a seen as a personal problem – pray more, worry less! Be grateful!

But let me tell you that mental health comes in your back door like an old high school acquaintance you thought you lost touch with, whom you had no idea was still connected to your life, except for in vague terms, like genetics or a strange uncle who talks funny.

Mental health is, however, whether we care to admit it or not, shockingly universal. Everyone’s stories are different, the diagnoses are different, but we all have the basic gene pool, to create a mental health struggle. No one is exempt, or “better made”. Sin effects our lives and world in frustrating ways – how many of you have family members touched by

addiction

dementia

anxiety

depression

learning disabilities

autism

trauma and distress?

People often back up and back away when mental health enters the scene.

They don’t want to “catch” the mental health cooties (not a thing, fyi). And our culture, while throwing around sexual innuendo and intimate family dynamics on tv and movie screens daily, does not like to be confronted by someone else’s drama when it lives next door.

But what if instead, we brought pizza.

In the middle of our struggles, two of my friends walked in the door, straight through my mess, toting a large pizza, an order of breadsticks, and a two liter of pop to share. They visited. They sat around my table and made me laugh. They asked questions and didn’t offer easy answers. They may have offered some help, but what I really remember is that they offered normalcy. They didn’t look at me like I was scary and had two heads. They were ok with being part of it, even if whatever it was looked kind of messy.

Mental health isn’t discriminating. Most of us will be touched by it somewhere along the road. And we have the ability to change the tide. We don’t have to be therapists or medical doctors, or even super close amazing friends. All we have to do is bear a pizza and say,

“Hi.”

“This stinks.”

“I love you.”

“I still think you matter.”

People did minister and care for us in so many ways, I don’t want to dismiss that. I’m very thankful that so many people jumped right over awkward, weird, and scary and offered affection and care.

But sometimes, I think we just need to keep it simple.

Sometimes we need to know that it starts with a single pizza.

Thankful for you!


Just a note to say today how grateful I am to all of you for reading along, studying the Word diligently, and seeking more of Christ, alongside me. There is so much joy in every piece of life’s journey, as messy as it can be, and I’m thankful to be in this adventure together!

When you recount how thankful you are today, add “Dear Lord…” to the beginning of your phrase and make it a prayer raised up to Him in authenticity.

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for my family.”

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for friends and turkey and green bean casserole and board games.”

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for the freedom of speech and worship and the testimony of you in those around me.”

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for people who came to work today and sold my forgetful self gluten-free flour cheerfully.”

Dear Lord…for Jesus, and Your Spirit, alive in our hearts, our lives, our homes, our children, our churches, and our futures…just thank you.”

Blessed day, friends at home and friends abroad. Today, where ever you are, may thanksgiving brake forth with your whole heart.

Coffee, tea, and Jesus please

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How do you feel about coffee? I tend toward ardent fan. I’m totally on the bandwagon for the coffee memes that proclaim it’s wonderfulness.

“Come here you big beautiful cup of coffee and lie to me about all we’re going to get done today.”

“All this girl needs today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.”

“First I drink the coffee, then I do the things.”

Perhaps you are more Captain Picard, and a little less Captain Janeway. Is tea your bag? What gets you going in the morning? What ignites your energy for the day?

What wakes you up?

God tells us that we all need something to wake us up. We all were once sleeping through life, but He had a better plan. A better way.

Metaphorically, the Bible talks about sin as our sleep drug. Look at Proverbs 6:9-11.

How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
    When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
    and want like an armed man.

Sin makes us sleepy. It closes our eyes to what is right and good. It’s surprisingly cozy and comfortable, lulling us into a complacency that leads to more sin. We love comfort so much that the light around us dims and we don’t even notice until we are standing in utter darkness.

This kind of thing happens when we disrespect our husbands and lash out at our families. We feel better for an instant, but then the darkness comes.

It happens when we skip church or avoid our Bible study group over and over again, for other things that sound fun or for the busyness of life. It feels good for a second to sleep in or not have to chit chat, but then the darkness comes.

It happens when we have a juicy conversation with the girls at work. It feels good to talk about someone else and know that your own shame is not the topic of the meaty conversation. It can’t hurt her if she doesn’t know, right? Then the darkness comes in.

It happens when we roll our eyes at our husband’s attempt at communication. We slam a cabinet and walk out of the room to get his attention. Then the darkness comes in.

Sin doesn’t wear a bright sign that says beware. Instead, it wraps us up slowly like a cozy blanket and then attempts to strangle us at the last minute, when we’re all tucked in.

Ephesians 5:7-14 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture and it’s about being awake. It is practical and bears the truth of the relationship between light, darkness, sleeping and being Awake Children of God –

Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

At one time you were darkness…

Can you hear the grace? We are no longer darkness! We are light in the Lord. That means we are Daytime and Sunlight. We are not third shift, 3am, sluggish and sleepy children of God, trapped in sin.

We are Awake.

How do you wake up in the middle of a gossip session, especially when it feels so good? How do you wake up when the words of disrespect pour out of your mouth?

Do not become partners. (v.7)

Some people were meant to be avoided like the plague. This is not you being hurtful or failing to eat with tax collectors. This is you knowing your own limit. This is caring for others, but knowing when you aren’t at the place to resist the temptation. Don’t make your closest friends those who partner with darkness.

Don’t speak of shameful things. (v.12)

I know it’s the worst when everyone else knows what happened in the royal marriage that was shameful and catastrophic (Sorry royals, I know you have kept the marriages pretty stellar as of late), but if it’s someone else’s shame, it’s not our business to speak of. This goes for the divorce of the couple next door, or the mental illness that befell someone’s child. If it’s not our story, it’s theirs to share.

Let Christ Shine. (v. 14)

Brightness is His name. When we let go of what we want, the light of His glory is so bright that we can’t help but live Awake. Let the Spirit out, my friends! Let Him out. Tea and coffee, even a triple mocha espresso double skinny dark, have nothing on a real and living God inside of us. Pray – Lord shine through me. Let my life shine of only You and always You.

Ephesians 5:16, just a couple verses later leaves us with a good Awake reminder –

…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Our time here is so short. I want to live Awake. I am Awake in Him. Why would I want to go back to that darkness, even for a brief stroll? Gag. No, thank you.

Awake, O sleeper…

Awake, precious Child…

Awake, daughter, brother, friend…

Grab your giant mug, inhale the scent of forgiveness, take a moment in prayer, and let Christ Shine.

Exploration:

What gets you going in the morning? Coffee, tea, exercise, more sleep? 😉

What does your morning routine look like?

What do you do in when gossip or disrespect from your own mouth seems imminent? Do you have a way to tamp it down and let light out instead?

How can you let Christ shine today?