Finding peace in the pieces — this is the slogan the Peer Wellness Ambassador team and I chose for Biola’s Mental Health Awareness Week. The imagery of fragmented pieces is one that I’m sure is relatable for many of us. We yearn for our lives to be a beautiful, completed picture that reflects God’s goodness and joy — and yet, so often, it feels like our lives are a confusing, mess of broken pieces we are left unsure of how to fit together. With the pressures of life, we can feel like we don’t have the time, the energy or the mental capacity to figure it out, and so we are left feeling like we’ve fallen short.
As someone who relates deeply to this struggle, I find myself constantly needing to remind myself that peace does not have to mean the absence of hardship. It does not have to mean that we have made sense of the cards we have been dealt. Life is uncomfortable much of the time. And it’s most definitely unfair. My heart breaks when I think of the struggles that others and myself are fighting through every day: anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, post traumatic stress disorder, psychotic disorders, chronic depression, chronic pain and others. Even just the day-to-day strain of being a decent human in the world and the enormous pressure to do more and make more and be more are enough.
“Potential” is a glorious thing and it is exciting to think of all that could be, especially about myself. I think it is good to change and learn and grow, and I think it is so good to want to do so. A quote I love says, “The person you have been is not the person you will remain. Think of this as both a challenge and a gift.”
We want to remind you that God is the cultivator amidst chaos. God works in the formless and void, the emptiness and the ashes.
I absolutely agree. But I am also aware of the way potential can so very easily be glorified. If I’m not careful, thoughts of my potential-self often leave me with nothing but hatred for my current self. All that I could be demeans who I am, and when I become ultra-aware of the great divide between who I am and who I want to be, I feel crushed by a paralyzing weight of inadequacy. Most days I feel a sense of guilt for what I didn’t accomplish instead of a sense of contentment for the things I did do. Most days I don't feel enough. Most days I fight the cynicism inside that sneers, “Why even try?.”
Friends, we are all so very broken. I want to say this to lament the weight of the condition of the world. And I want to say this so you feel less alone. You are not alone in your brokenness. And furthermore, while battling these struggles may be an on-going and life-long process, the Peer Wellness Ambassador team is providing a space this upcoming week to encourage you to pursue peace in the midst of all of your pieces.
We want to remind you that God is the cultivator amidst chaos. God works in the formless and void, the emptiness and the ashes. We wanted to remind you that you are not beyond His reach. I don’t say this flippantly. I say this as someone who has personally felt mocked by God in the midst of struggling, and who has truly had to wrestle with whether I believe God is good, let alone even real. I say this all, well aware of the fact that a week of providing a space to color and journal and put puzzle pieces together will not ultimately solve the much deeper fragmentation we feel. But it is a small way to validate your experience. To remind you that your brokenness does not disqualify you. I pray you feel so loved this upcoming week.
Come take a break with us during our Mental Health Awareness Week events:
Tuesday, Oct. 18: Live Music Led by a Peer Wellness Ambassador | 6-7 p.m. | Fireplace Pavilion
Wednesday, Oct. 19: Mental Health and Well-being Playground | 12-3 p.m. | Metzger Lawn
Thursday, Oct. 20: Bingo Night | 6:30-8:30 p.m. | Metzger Lawn
View the full schedule and additional resources at https://www.biola.edu/mental-health-awareness-week.