It’s been buzzing around my head this week like an annoying fly.

Michael Rosen’s famous words from the story “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

“We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.
Oh no!
We’ve got to go through it!”

It got me thinking about our attitude towards mental illness and times when we’re struggling.

We’re designed to try to avoid pain; a hand that jumps away from a hot saucepan for example.

The problem is, when we do this with our mental health we can end up building a life around avoiding things that might hurt us, or not facing up to difficult situations.

We might avoid situations that make us feel anxious, places that hold bad memories, we might lock all of our negative experiences and feelings into a box so that we can ignore them. And to a certain extent, we have to work out ways to manage difficult feelings so we can get through the day; but eventually, they need to be faced.

And that’s where the old children’s rhyme comes in.

We can’t gloss over our pain.

We can’t lay beneath our pain.

We have to go through it.

What don’t have to do, is go through it alone.

Writer Dan Allender writes:

“Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality; listening to our emotions ushers us into reality. And reality is where we meet God.”

And we see this in Isaiah 43 as it promises:

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”

Whatever we face, whether fears of the future or shadows from the past, we aren’t alone because Jesus has walked through our human life and the Spirit has been promised to be our comfort.

We go through it, not with a promise of no pain, but with a promise of God’s presence and everlasting comfort.

Moreover, we have the Church, God’s people to travel through life with; in both the good and the bad.

We can’t go over it,

We can’t go under it

We have to go through it.

But much like the family in the story, we don’t have to go through it alone.