To all the people of God
who know they’re “not quite fine”
but don’t know who to talk with.
To all the people of God
who can see someone’s “not quite fine”
but don’t know how to talk about it.
Together, let’s walk into our calling
for “such a time as this.”
Mental Health, Faith, and Showing Up for One Another
by Carlene Hill Byron
(Herald Press 2021)
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll, many of us are “not quite fine,” as we deal with loneliness, anxiety, financial pressures, physical restrictions, mental health challenges, and more. What was once “novel” has become a wearing and wearying way of life: physical distancing, wearing masks, getting vaccinated, and the controversies and conflicts that persist around them.
How can the church respond to what seems to be a growing mental health crisis? Is our role simply to pray and refer those who are “not quite fine” to a mental health professional? Or is there something else that we can and should do as the body of Christ?
I love the way Carlene Hill Byron addresses these questions in her new book, Not Quite Fine. She begins with her own mental health journey, then explores how the mental health problem has gotten so big and how our culture undermines mental health. She broadens the discussion from narrowly focusing on mental illnesses that involve malfunctioning biological systems to address mental health problems that arise as we experience loss, grief, and other challenges of daily life,
While there is benefit from medication, counselling, and other forms of professional help, the church also has a role to play in addressing mental health problems. As the body of Christ, we show up for one another—both those who are “not quite fine” and those who can see that someone else is “not quite fine.” Together we are the body of Christ, finding meaning and purpose together, belonging to one another, extending hospitality and hope.
Not Quite Fine is an encouraging book—no, we may not be trained mental health professionals, but yes, we can show up for one another. We can take small steps like using our gifts of prayer, hospitality, and listening. We can acknowledge the larger challenges like doing what we can, yet accepting our limits. We can hope in God, who has equipped us as a church to show up for one another, who loves us and walks with us as we seek to walk together.
Not Quite Fine: Mental Health, Faith, and Showing Up for One Another is written by Carlene Hill Byron, a fundraiser and communicator for nonprofits that serve people with disabilities and other profound life challenges. The former editor of New England Church Life and The New England Christian, she is a spiritual wellness volunteer in the MaineHealth hospital system and active in her Lutheran church. She has been medically treated for depression or bipolar disorder since the age of 19, with doctors attempting more than 20 different medications to contain her symptoms. Her book launches this week from Herald Press.
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