I just finished the soon-to-be released autobiography on a Christian’s suffering with OCD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Depression. My connection with the author was a special one, after contributing articles to I Am Second myself, one day I looked at the related articles and discovered that someone shared publicly on their struggles with OCD. As an OCD Specialist in Dallas, I had to meet him, especially discovering he was only a few short minutes from my office. His book officially comes out later this month (September 2021).
BBQ and a Man Who Gets It
Meeting up at a great BBQ joint would have been a highlight for any day. What proceeded from meeting with Jon was a great connection and me thinking: “This guy gets it!” and “No way, that’s spot on!” concerning the journey many followers of Christ experience trying to make sense of their mental health while simultaneously trying to grow in faith.
In Jon Seidl’s book, Finding Rest: A Survivor’s Guide to Navigating the Valleys of Anxiety, Faith, and Life (Kregel, 2021), he understands mental health suffering– through personal experience- and humbly engages with gentle challenges. He gives both the sufferer and support alike the charge to consider a bigger perspective in health: physical, spiritual, and mental.
Not a Clinician or Theologian, His Message Is Powerful
While he doesn’t explicitly address Exposure and Response Prevention for OCD, which is the Gold Standard clinical treatment for OCD (to my knowledge he hasn’t done it), I will now consider this a go-to book for Christians who want the following:
- To know they’re not alone in mental illness (anxiety, depression, OCD, panic, etc.).
- To know they’re not weak for pursuing medication, support, therapy- or any support outside of overt spiritual disciplines- and how this is often an outflow of faith rather than a lack of it.
- To be encouraged by God’s grace in suffering and worship Him through it.
There were many wonderful highlights of reading Jon’s book, which is relatable and involves some of the best metaphors and story-telling I have read in a mental health autobiography.
The topic of “Common Grace” is an outstanding concept to address, and it provides a pivotal framework for Christians to grasp that God’s grace extends to all people in some ways, and that can include things that improve mental health like medication and counseling. Minimizing a person by saying they need to “get over” their struggles or “just pray about it”- without seeing a multifactorial process involved- can be dangerous (ranging from sleep to exercise to medication and more).
A “proper theology of suffering” is addressed, referencing often the book of Job, and additionally Psalms and Lamentations. Understanding where God is in suffering and what the Bible has to say about it is crucial for Christians to respond to in godly ways.
Throughout its pages, he exemplifies courage and strength and love, with an impressive balance. He speaks graciously to those who, well-meaning or not, can superficially invalidate concerns of mental health with a quick tip and a Bible verse out of context. I stand in awe of his ability to speak kindly to all AND simultaneously challenge all readers. He goes to great lengths to strike a balance between these tensions that are often missed in the wider world of mental health- this is a truly readable book.
I see this book as an excellent door opener in seeing mental health treatment more holistically (biological, psychologically, socially, AND spiritually). It’s bold enough to offer tips from personal experience while encouraging each person on their own unique journey of mental health as they seek Christ. Jon did this while maintaining a strong commitment to core Christian beliefs- trust me, that’s very hard to do.
Don’t go to this book for “the fix”- he cautions against it himself. Go to this book to be encouraged and see a fuller perspective than that which is commonly experienced by many mental health sufferers. He gets it.
I really liked this book. It’s filled with grace, wisdom, and open-endedness that reflects a genuine humility- not of a man who has it all together, but a man who defines Himself by the One who has it all together. May you find the rest he talks about and we all seek.