It is OK to not be OK. 

That is the message Julie Busler said she hoped women took away from The Gathering, a night of encouragement in worship and the Word, Sunday at Second Baptist Church in Conway.  

The evening was full of encouragement, worship and time in the Word addressing the ongoing needs around mental health.  

Busler, who currently serves as the Oklahoma President of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), was the guest speaker. She shared her story of mental illness and how she learned that trials humanize people and increase their capacity to be used by God.  

She told those in attendance how her mental breakdown took her from being a missionary to a suicidal patient in a Turkish psychiatric hospital.  

“We were overseas for six years. Life was good. We were speaking the language. Our kids were happy. Volunteer groups came and served with us. But I felt so trapped inside,” she said.  

But she found help and hope and demonstrated that even in the sorrow of mental illness, joy can coexist. 

“Only the Spirit can produce joy and that does not depend on your circumstance,” Busler said. “We’re all broken. I don’t care if you are a missionary, a Christian, a Muslim, whatever you are, we are all human and we all need help and we all need a Savior.”  

Busler said its exciting churches are talking more about mental illness, such as hosting events like Sunday’s, but still people can feel a lot of shame.  

“People reach out to me a lot, and they’ll say things like, is it OK to get therapy, as if it is a sin almost,” Busler said. “Society will preach this idea that we need to be independent and OK on our own and we don’t need help when really the whole message of the Bible is we can’t do it on our own. We need a Savior. We need help. We need to have a dependence on Jesus and sometimes that means getting help in the journey.”   

The more it is talked about the more people may seek help, Busler said.  

“Testimonies are really powerful and whenever you hear someone else, how they’ve gotten help, it can sometimes give you permission to also get help. The more churches raise awareness that there is help available and that it is OK to give, the more people will be more apt to seek the help,” she said. “It is OK to not be OK. We’re all human. Even as believers sometimes we need help.  

Busler is active in the women’s ministry at Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She and her husband, Ryan, have been married 16 years, have four children, and have served overseas in Canada, Mexico, Germany and Turkey. Her book, Joyful Sorrow: Breaking Through the Darkness of Mental Illness, is available online as well as on Kindle and Audible. 

Sunday’s event also featured a Q&A on mental health led by Second Baptist Women’s Minister Jacki King with therapist Kelly Stevens.  

King ended the event with a reminder to those in attendance that they are loved.  

“We love you. Even more than that we want you to hear that God loves you,” she said.  

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