Strength in Our Weakness

By Solana Oliver

We find it difficult to talk about mental illness because we, as a society, considered it as a sign of weakness. We are pushed from all places in our lives to be the best students, Catholics, and people we can be–and that is a good thing. But at the same time, for some people, when we are inundated with doubts, immobilized by fears of disappointing our loved ones or frightened by the thought of walking into classrooms filled with people to the point that your skin begins to itch, those everyday challenges can become that much more challenging.

In this country, we commonly associated mental illness with its most extreme forms: bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder. We do not consider our brothers and sisters who struggle to find serenity and equanimity in their own lives amidst a struggle with intense self-doubt, with never feeling worthy of what they receive, and we never see it. If we were to look around any classroom, we would probably find at least one or two people who endure depression or anxiety and yet push through them in order to complete their education.

As Catholics, we are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, someone who was fully divine and fully human. We have set up ourselves with impossibly high standards, to be more than we can. Like the many disciples and apostles of Jesus, we are only human. We are made of flaws and imperfections, yet we also believe that God created us in his own image, meaning he made no mistakes when giving us our lives. Although our Church has very high standards, we welcome those who are broken with open arms, not because we ourselves are perfect but because we understand brokenness.

Take some time every day to see yourself as God does, as immeasurably loved in every way. We must not only see others as someone in need of Christ’s love. It is imperative that we see that in ourselves. We can never begin to love our neighbors and all their imperfections unless we can truly love ourselves and our own beautiful imperfections.