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Welcome to the Simple Spiritual Life, learning to let go of things in this life to chase the joyful life God has for us. This site is for those who struggle with anxiety, nervousness, depression, and other forms of mental illness. I hope you find hope, community, and forward momentum in the battle for mental health. This site is also for those struggling with heartache, pain, loss, and grief, or intense emotional anguish of any kind.

I live with anxiety and depression, at times being completely debilitated by mental illness, and have found great hope and progress putting my trust in God’s truth. Through counseling and deep, intense, and painful reflection I have been able to get a tenuous grasp on “stability.” No one’s journey with mental illness is ever over, and every day I battle thoughts, patterns, and people that threaten to pull me down. Some days they do.

As I have battled for health, however, I have found a need to share my story, to share my strength, and to share my weakness. There is a need for me to create a community online for those who struggle with mental illness of many kinds, and to share what helps us find stability, and what throws us back to the ground.

God has pulled me more and more deeply into meditation, contemplation, and mystic experience of his love, grace, and truth. Authors like Thomas Merton, Teresa de Avila, John of the Cross, and contemporary authors writing once again about true and false selves has started me on a journey of discovering the truth God has said, speaking each of us into being in love. God has been showing me lately how the trappings of this world pull us away from knowing Him, and experiencing His great love for us, and through refusing the urges to compete, I am finding new strength and joy.

That is why I have called this site that is dedicated to mental health “The Simple Spiritual Life.” I believe we have complicated everything, including our spiritual lives. We become obsessed with doing, obsessed with knowing, obsessed with seeing, even in following God, and it leaves us dry. Ultimately, this is because God is not found in the doing, but in the being. Which is why we need to simplify, not complicate, our lives. Especially our spiritual lives.

I chased relationships, chased things, chased experiences, and found all of them to be lacking. I blamed my mom, blamed my dad, blamed my friends, and eventually blamed God for a while, and I was still not feeling any better. I couldn’t get out of bed, and it was always someone else’s fault. Eventually, I had to realize that life is not how anyone wants it to be, and that really sucks, but if I keep chasing things, or blaming people, I won’t get anywhere.

It was not until I learned to slow down and enjoy the exact moment I was in that I found peace, stability, and, most importantly, God’s peaceful presence.

There have been other things I have done to find strength through my weakness, but meditation and contemplation have been the two most powerful tools, and have helped me know God even better.

I believe that we have complicated our spiritual lives and our physical lives. Through letting go of things in this life we attach more fully the God, and he gives us the gifts we truly need, peace, salvation, assurance, hope, and joy. We don’t have to be monks, taking vows of poverty, but should learn to be wise and discerning with “why” we want different things. I have found that giving up things that are just “there,” taking up space, bringing us no concrete joy but still using our mental faculties as we consider if this item looks best here or in the dining room, helps in finding freedom.

The Simple Spiritual Life is about simplifying our spiritual and physical lives to find peace and joy, and about working together to get there. Community is the most important aspect of our lives as humans, and being in groups that provide safe spaces to tell our stories is necessary for us to thrive. I want this site to be a safe space for those who struggle with mental illness to share their struggle, their hope, and their strength.

My name is Matthew, I struggle with depression and anxiety, my hope is in being well enough to love a beautiful wife and children, and in creating a family legacy of health and happiness, and my strength is my deep, thoughtful and reflective nature.

What’s yours?

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About

The Simple Spiritual Life is a safe space for those struggling with mental illness to come together and share their struggles and triumphs with the unseen battle. When creating a safe space for those who often feel belittled or misunderstood, a few key rules will go a long way in making sure every one loves and respects each other.

  1. Everyone’s story is different, and that’s OK
    We don’t all have the same experience of mental illness, which is why it’s so hard to talk about in the first place. We understand how misunderstood we are, but sometimes that’s all we have in common. Let’s connect about what we have experienced and not point fingers. If someone seems to not be as depressed or anxious as you, that does not mean they aren’t. Mental illness sucks for us all, the least we can do is be nice to each other.
  2. We are striving towards health
    There seems to be a trend where people are sharing their experiences with mental illness, and that has been awesome! Seeing so many people come to understand what I deal with has been encouraging. The downside is that it sometimes seems like we just want people to know us, instead of pushing towards health and stability. This isn’t just a place to just share stories, but to grow, learn, and help each other when we are down.
  3. Advice is given freely, but care for persons comes first
    We are human beings, not human doings, so telling people what they can do before caring for who they are isn’t helpful.  We have all been on the receiving end of advice when what we really needed was someone to just be with us. Also, reaffirming who someone is can be more helpful than advice on what to do much of the time. Let’s be people who care for people, and not just try to fix actions.
  4. No cursing/dirty language/perverted language
    This is not just a pet peeve, but is really helpful for people to be able to enter into the space this site creates. Everyone struggles in different ways, and some of us are most affected by different speech patterns and language because of upbringing and culture. One of my own struggles is in sexuality, and perverted language can cause me to get trapped in my own thinking, which prompts depression. Plus, I believe it’s never a bad thing to practice controlling our language.
  5. Words are powerful, and we should wise to remember how much damage they can do.
    This really sums it up. Let’s be very careful to realize what we are saying and how it could be received by those we are saying it to. Communication is both messages being sent, and how they are received. Take a moment to consider how your message will be taken.
  6. We could be wrong!
    We are people of learning and growing, and hopefully towards a more joy-filled and hope-filled existence. Neither of those things happens if we aren’t challenged to grow, change and develop. A safe space doesn’t mean we simply commiserate together, but have understanding and share in pain and growth as we move forward. Let’s commit to openness and vulnerability to our ideas and ways of doing things being unhelpful, and commit to making changes as we learn and grow together.
  7. While we (or they) may be wrong, we let people make that decision themselves.
    I’m convinced one of the biggest ingredients to depression and anxiety are childhood boundaries that were either kept too firm from our parents, or too loose. What that means is that our parents either abused us by breaking the boundaries of our autonomy in someway (yelling, hitting, controlling, manipulating) or didn’t show us how our boundaries can be let down for love (when parents give little love, are too busy, and pull away). Both are disastrous for development. This rule means: “We will not break another person’s boundary. The decision is in their hands, even if it’s hard or frustrating to watch them struggle, we will not ‘make’ them do anything.”
  8. The Spiritual Rule
    You don’t have to be a Christian to be a part of this community. You don’t have to be spiritual or believe in God, and that may be awkward for you because the site is named The Simple Spiritual Life, but you can DEFINITELY be here. I want you here, we need you here. You’re voice, thoughts, and person are a part of us all. That being said, all the rules apply, including Rule 7: We let people make their own decisions. Of course, this site will be putting forth Christian influenced thought and answers to questions, and spiritually minded meditation and contemplation practices and exercises. Nobody should force you to believe anything, but keep in mind Rule 6: We could be wrong. That applies to all of us. Including me.
  9. Have fun, have joy
    As we strive towards stability and health, I think our ultimate goal is to find joy, happiness, and fun on this side of eternity. The writer of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Bible, says this, “Eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a merry heart…enjoy life with the wife whom you love…whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” I love Ecclesiastes because it helps us see that our goal isn’t riches, honor, wisdom, or power, but to find joy in the moment and to find merriment in the simple pleasures of life. “There is nothing better,” it says in Ecclesiastes, than for man “to be joyful and to do good.” Let’s seek joy.

 

Welcome to The Simple Spiritual Life, let’s all use these rules to get along, grow together, and experience the peace and joy God has for all of us.

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Contact

If you want to get in contact with me, leave a comment! I’ll get back to you as quickly as I am able.