The Value of Mental Health in Christian Hip-Hop
Throughout history, the damaged mental state of artists has been well-documented. Artists across multiple mediums have found themselves susceptible to depression, insomnia, bipolarity, thoughts of suicide, and many other issues. With the recent passing of Mac Miller, it is more apparent than ever that self-care is key to the lifestyle of creatives. Being that Rapzilla is a Christian hip-hop website, it is important for us to encourage artists to seek help within the scriptures and in modern day psychology. We want Christian Hip-Hop artists to know that they are not alone. We are with them, and more importantly, God is with them.
The Reality of Suffering and the Grace of God
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11: 28-30 (NIV)
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” – Romans 8:18 (ESV)
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” – 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)
As long as we are on this Earth, we will have sufferings. This is an inescapable fact of life. Each of us will face trials that will test our resolve. For the artist, these issues may be tied into the music industry. Maybe that song didn’t get enough streams, or an album underperformed. To the average listener, this seems to be just another reality of artistry. On the other hand, the artist may be haunted by a setback, causing questions of self-worth, talent, and performance to arise. When hopes are dashed, it becomes difficult to remember anything outside of despair.
God did not create us to dwell in our pain. Instead, He reminds us that our earthly sufferings, although real, will not last in the grand scheme of eternity. Anxiety is real. Depression is real. Doubt is real. In spite of all this, believers have been called to actively choose joy. In spite of our pain we can walk confidently knowing that in the end, God meets us with love, mercy, and grace. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7; NIV). In submitting our sufferings to God, we bring ourselves closer to the Father, can live secure in the notion that in the end, God will work everything out for our good (Romans 8:28).
There seems to be a misconception that great suffering produces greater art and therefore, artists should, in fact, place themselves in situations that will cause them to suffer in the name of advancement. This is a complete fallacy. Sadness is not a requirement in making good art. However, drawing from one’s experiences in the name of vulnerability can benefit listeners immensely.
Seeking Help From Others
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” – Galatians 6:2 (ESV)
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” – Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” – John 13:35 (ESV)
Pride, fear, and doubt are just a few reasons that people avoid asking for help. When it comes to mental health, it is time to put these ideas aside and allow your brother or sister to pour into you. In many homes, and society at large, confessing your wrongdoings, your pains, and your vulnerabilities is seen as a form of weakness. In truth, confession is one of the most powerful tools we have as Christians. Shared experiences build bonds amongst people, and being open and honest will show you who will stand by you in the darkest of times.
For many years, different bodies of both faith and culture have demonized any sort of help outside of churches, scripture, fasting, and prayer. Therapy is not evil. Not all forms of mental illness or pain are Satan playing tricks on the mind. While we should never discourage seeking help within the faith, the extent to which basic forms of mental care have been criticized is almost laughable, were it not so serious. Christians are still human beings and need help too.
Artists who infuse their life into their work are often lauded by the masses, deservedly so. Sharing your hurts is terrifying in a one-on-one conversation, but imagine having to do so with hundreds, thousands, even millions. This is the reality for not only CHH artists, but any artist who opts for transparency. Whether it was JGivens revealing his homosexuality, Marty of Social Club Misfits explaining his “church hurt,” or Andy Mineo speaking on his search for clarity, CHH artists are placing themselves in compromising positions to be vulnerable with us, their fans. There are countless more examples and there will continue to be many.
If we do not have a community of brothers and sisters working together towards the purpose of strengthening the faith and empowering one another, then what is the point? James 5:16 states, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (NIV). We have been called to share our weaknesses, and just as importantly, pray for one another, extending grace to others as God extended grace to us.
Conclusion, Now What?
If you’re an artist, pray. If you’re a fan, pray. Call the ones you hold dear and tell them you love them. Remind them that they have meaning both in your eyes and in the eyes of the Creator. Our obligation to one another is simply to care. In bearing one another’s burdens, we glorify God and encourage each other. Christians go through just as much as non-Christians, but we take joy in the fact that our savior has freed us from the bondage of eternal suffering.
Instead of rejecting our brothers and sisters, we must embrace them, no matter their flaws. Christian Hip-Hop should not be a community of hate. We need to work together to create a body that is conscious of real-life issues and boldly addressing each. We need to care for one another as if we were family because we are. We need to have boldness in being who God has called us to be, fostering positive change in the world at large, because if we don’t, who will?