Living Well: Mental Illness

    09.25.18 | Journey Stories by Wally Nickel

    According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.  This means that on any given Sunday, there are people in every church in this country who are struggling deeply, and others are not able to attend a gathering or become involved in a community setting because their mental health keeps them away.

     On Sunday, September 23, we invited Calvin and Suzie Warneke to share part of their journey with us. This is their story and your invitation to talk about mental health and the church. 

    "2 of our 3 children live with a mental illness.  The last few years, and the many years leading up to their diagnosis have been a long and hard journey for our children, and for us as their parents.  There have been many days when we have felt hopeless and uncertain as to what the future would hold for our family.  There were Sundays when we would sit in church and feel very alone and uncertain of how to worship when everything seemed to be falling apart.  As we attended parent support groups within the framework of Fraser Health, we quickly saw the need for the church to become involved in supporting individuals and families who were walking a similar journey to us.  It was not long after that, that Living Well was formed.

     Living Well is a peer support group at North Langley Community Church that was started 3 years ago.  Living Well is a safe, friendly place in a Christian setting for people whose lives have been impacted by Mental Illness, to come and share lived experiences.  Our desire is to build and restore hope through prayer, worship, teaching and small group discussions.

    Here is what some past participants have said about Living Well….

    • Living Well is a place where we make connections with others and understand other’s struggles. It’s a place that helps me to know that I’m not alone
    • Living Well allows me to feel part of a community
    • Living Well is a place to come and be honest/real about how you are
    • For us as parents, Living Well has been a place of support and healing, a place where we can grieve our losses, and be reminded of the hope that is found in Jesus

     There is a song by Casting Crowns called Just Be Held.  Some lyrics from this song say “If you eyes are on the storm, you’ll wonder if I love you still.  But if your eyes are on the cross, You’ll know I always have and I always will.  And not a tear is wasted.  In time, you’ll understand.  I’m painting beauty with the ashes, your life is in My hands.”

    Our hope and desire is that Living Well would be a place where we can lift our eyes from the storm of mental illness and look towards Jesus and know that we are loved, that He is painting beauty from these ashes and that our lives are in His hands."
    - Calvin and Suzie

     Living Well meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month at the Walnut Grove campus of North Langley Community Church.  We meet together as a large group for a time of teaching and sharing and then we divide into two different small groups.  We have a Living Room for those living with mental health challenges; and we have a Family Room for those caring for someone who is living with mental health challenges.

    We invite anyone whose life has been impacted by mental illness to come.  For some that means you are right in the thick of it and for others, you may be feeling like your are coming up on the other side of the valley, and yet we need you to come and offer hope and support to those who are still trekking through the valleys.

    Mental Illness is here and in our community and so we want to talk about it and support one another through it.  We hope that you will join us!  You are welcome to drop-in anytime and come as you are able. Contact Pastor Wally for more details.