Fighting The Inner Darkness

Kathy_Khang_BlogImgby Kathy Kang

What happens when agents of disruption have their own lives disrupted? What happens with the darkness creeps in or simply takes over our own lives? What does it look like to put on the full armor of God because life is too real?

I don’t know about you but 2016 came up from behind and surprised me with an intensity and urgency I did not anticipate. Ministry demands came alongside family and personal realities that once again reminded me that we all are on a journey, just like the people – young and old, believers and we hope will become believers – we have the privilege of ministering to. Real life and real ministry are constant reminders of my humanity and need to be in touch with my humanity.

I fight daily against depression. I take medication. I see a counselor. I exercise and breathe deeply. I journal. I pray and have people pray for me and with me. I have a “happy light” to combat the long, cloudy winters of the Midwest. And I write and speak openly and frequently about mental health because it too often is an area we ministers ignore because of stigma, lack of knowledge, fear, and misinformation. It is the darkness that disrupts my life daily. On most days the depression is invisible not because I am actively hiding it but because it simply is never the thing that defines me. You may know this darkness I speak of, or you may have students, friends, or family who struggle with various degrees of feeling blue to clinical depression.

Regardless, as we look forward to gathering together in May I want to encourage us to consider how being agents of disruption requires and invites us into a deeper understanding, appreciation, and care for our physical, spiritual, and mental health and in doing so model something so radical and compelling to the broken world around us. We live in a culture that demands our attention and action 24/7, and “ministry” is no different. How many of us are tied to our cell phones, social media accounts, and text notifications?

Mental and physical health is a critical part of our spiritual journey. We are not souls floating about in the world. We cannot ignore the toll of fighting against injustice and proclaiming the gospel to a broken world takes on our bodies, minds and souls God saw it fit and very good to create us embodied – flesh and soul – bearing God’s own image. Even as we read in Ephesians 6 about putting on the full armor of God, we are reminded that the physical armor goes on our bodies but requires our hearts and minds to grasp truth and faith.

We have a unique call to create and be creative, to steward the earth and be a part of its flourishing. Some days it’s more obvious than others but tending to our own health and wellbeing requires the same discipline, accountability and humility as our “ministry” work. So as you look forward to fellowship and learning together in May, take time to prepare physically, spiritually, and mentally. Take time to evaluate ministry plans and perhaps your exercise habits. Make time to sit with God and invite him to reveal the places in your own life that need disrupting.

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