It is OK to not be OK.
That is the message Julie Busler said she hoped women took away from The Gathering, a recent night of encouragement at Second Baptist Church Conway, Arkansas.
The evening included worship and teaching from Scripture addressing issues of mental health.
Busler, president of Oklahoma Woman’s Missionary Union, was guest speaker. She shared her story of mental illness and how she learned that trials humanize people and increase their capacity to be used by God.
Her mental breakdown took her from being a missionary to a suicidal patient in a Turkish psychiatric hospital, Busler related.
“We were overseas for six years. Life was good. We were speaking the language. Our kids were happy. Volunteer groups came and served with us. But I felt so trapped inside.”
She found help and hope, demonstrating that even in the sorrow of mental illness joy can coexist, Busler said.
“Only the Spirit can produce joy and that does not depend on your circumstance,” she noted. “We’re all broken. I don’t care if you are a missionary, a Christian, a Muslim — whatever you are — we are all human and we all need help and we all need a Savior.”
Getting the word out
Busler said it’s exciting that churches are talking more about mental illness, such as hosting events like The Gathering, but there still can be feelings of shame related to the issue.
“People reach out to me a lot and they’ll say things like, ‘Is it OK to get therapy?’ as if it is a sin almost,” she related. “Society will preach this idea that we need to be independent and OK on our own and we don’t need help, when really the whole message of the Bible is, ‘We can’t do it on our own. We need a Savior. We need help.’
“We need to have a dependence on Jesus and sometimes that means getting help in the journey.”
The more mental illness is talked about the more people may seek help, Busler said.
“Testimonies are really powerful and whenever you hear someone else, how they’ve gotten help, it can sometimes give you permission to also get help. The more churches raise awareness that there is help available and that it is OK to give, the more people will be more apt to seek the help.
“It is OK to not be OK,” Busler declared. “We’re all human. Even as believers sometimes we need help.”
Busler is active in women’s ministry at Immanuel Baptist Church Shawnee, Oklahoma. She and her husband, Ryan, served in Canada, Mexico, Germany and Turkey. Her book, “Joyful Sorrow: Breaking Through the Darkness of Mental Illness,” is available online, on Kindle and Audible.
The Gathering also featured a Q&A on mental health led by Jacki King, Second Baptist women’s minister, and therapist Kelly Stevens.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Mary Alford and originally published by Arkansas Baptist News.