24 Dec

Text by Rick McVicar 

     Contemporary Christian music artist Jody McBrayer reacts to how churches handle depression and mental illness in his memoir titled, "So Far, So Good."  The book details McBrayer's struggles in his brain health's recovery.

A guitar.

      His story was featured Dec. 22, 2022 in The Tennessean, Nashville's daily newspaper, in "''Shame is Killing People in Church:' Christian Singer Calls Out Lack of Compassion for Mental Illness."  The name of McBrayer's memoir is So Far, So Good. McBrayer is a member of the group Avalon, known for its hit, "Testify to Love." The song can be heard on YouTube and includes the line, "I'll be a witness in the silence when words are not enough."

  In the newspaper story, McBrayer tells reporter Brad Schmitt that he has battled depression throughout his life after being sexually abused by a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher at the age of 7. He was afraid to tell his parents because they were loyal members of the church. Later in life, he found that people in churches do not like to hear of mental illness. "The topic had become taboo inside the church walls," McBrayer is quoted.

  As McBrayer became an adult, he found his father to be a big help. However, that help ended when the father died in 2000. McBrayer became deeply depressed after that and at one point tried to take his own life. McBrayer walked into Gulf of Mexico waters on a Florida vacation. He credits God for intervening to prevent him from drowning.

  In churches, McBrayer says he hears a lot about God taking care of everything and that nothing else is needed. McBrayer reacts strongly against that message in a video included with The Tennessean's story. He notes there is a strong stigma attached to mental illness in churches. "In church you are more under a microscope... They push you to be perfect," McBrayer said. That only brings feelings of shame, which is detrimental to those struggling with depression and anxiety.