“Holiness is not perfection according to human criteria; it is not reserved for a small number of exceptional persons. It is for everyone; it is the Lord who brings us to holiness…”
What do these words by Saint Pope John Paul II say to us who struggle with depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive conditions, bipolar illness, or any other mental ailment?
First, we are not exempt! St. Pope John Paul II said, “everyone!” That means you and me!
Second, since holiness is not “perfection according to human criteria,” we don’t need to achieve a total mental health in order to be holy. We don’t even have to be ashamed of the struggle. Many Saints had mental health problems. Sts. Therese Lisieux, Elizabeth Seton, and John Vianney are a few. St. Pope John Paul II teaches the Lord brings us holiness. We don’t bring it to ourselves. Therefore, we don’t have to be perfectly healthy.
We often give ourselves a double dose of suffering by expecting too much of ourselves. It’s much easier and holier to simply assume we will fail — repeatedly — and relax about it. All we need to do to allow God to make us holy is keep an honest relationship with Him, practice our faith, and try to do what’s right for our circumstances, which oftentimes includes addressing our mental conditions. The Lord will do the rest of the work!
“Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame.” Psalm 34:5