For today's entry in the Friday Five interview series, we catch up with Rebekah Lyons. Alongside her husband, Gabe, Rebekah serves as cofounder of Q Ideas, a nonprofit organization that helps Christian leaders winsomely engage culture. Rebekah Lyons is the author of Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning.
Today we talk to Rebekah about mental illness, speaking with vulnerability, and how Christian moms can navigate the tension between home and career.
You are pretty open in your book and in your recent public speaking about your struggles with anxiety and depression. Was it difficult to admit this, given your role as a Christian leader?
Actually, no. I've been an "over-sharer" all my life.
This story overtook me. I never intended to write a book, but it was an earnest effort to get it down, for my own healing and processing. The week I began writing, I realized this wasn't a story of my anxiety or spiral, but God's story of redemption and rescue. The best advice I received early on was, "Don't hold back."
I didn't unearth how much my story would resonate with others until I started hearing feedback in the early stages. It seemed everyone shared angst over someone they loved struggling with the same thing—especially within the church.
What can church leaders do to create a culture where its people are free to talk about anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses?
Church leaders can lead by being vulnerable themselves. It must be so difficult to do this when everyone is looking to you for answers, but simply put, we are all broken people in desperate need of a Savior.
When we lead with vulnerability, we invite others to do the same. It connects us with each other, and our secrets lose power when they exit the dark. We can also be better friends. We can show up, check in on those that are hanging by a thread, and press in. Not with answers, but with our presence. We also need to know when symptoms are worsening and should not be ignored.
The church could create a posture from the stage where this isn't shamed. Mental illness doesn't equate with spiritual weakness. We need love and grace more than ever in this season, as 26 percent of Americans struggle with this. Every family has someone that faces depression or anxiety periodically. Let's embrace how to love them well when they do.
How can busy moms like you find space to pursue their God-given callings while caring for their families?
This certainly helps when parenting is shared. Gabe has been my biggest advocate in unearthing my calling. He gently prompted and prodded even before I was ready to receive it.
The greatest step is to create space, time each week for replenishment in four practices: physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual. I know many moms are thinking, Yeah, right. I'm happy to get in a daily shower! It doesn't have to be large blocks of time, but an intention with our schedules saying, "I need this."
I believe those carved moments of silence create space to imagine again, to explore and ask the tough questions. If we begin to dream again, over time, clarity will come.
How can pastors and church leaders affirm women in their gifting?
The past few weeks my home church, Trinity Grace in New York City, has been spotlighting different women in all nine parish locations via video: women sharing stories of calling and vocation, with captured footage in their weekly environments as they surrender to God's prompting to live faithfully in our city. I tear up every time. To hear how bold and empowered these women are sets a precedent for the rest of the women in our church.