Of Adjectives and Disorders [Mental Illness]

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“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Ephesians 4:25, NIV

I catch myself using this strange new vocabulary quite a bit. There is a tendency to make adjectives where there should be nouns. There is an ‘in exactness’ in our thinking and speech.

Now we’re not the ‘policemen’ of other people’s grammar. We just should be aware of becoming too casual with mental disorders that can be quite debilitating to quite a few people. Do I ‘joke about’ having OCD when I try to do something precisely? (Sometimes.) Can I make light of being rather ‘retarded’ by some bone-head action I do? (More often than I’d like.)

I find I use terminology like this to explain ‘actions’ to give them a legitimacy as well as a medical reason to a situation. But when I do so, I can demean other people who actually are going through them for real. I also can label myself when I use these adjectives this way.

We really must be careful. We can use our language in such way that reveals our ignorance of the medical and psychological status of disorders. When we use words casually we start to ‘dilute’ them. They can describe a ‘reality’ of things that don’t really exist; we then end up speaking falsely and minimize the severity of a disorder.

“The true test of a man’s spirituality is not his ability to speak, as we are apt to think, but rather his ability to bridle his tongue.”

R. Kent Hughes

As a Christian believer, I also suffer from Bipolar disorder with delusions and anxiety. And yet, the Word tells me to always “speak the truth in love.” (Eph. 4:15). Listen to yourself, and let the Holy Spirit guard your words.

“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Psalm 141:3

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Author: Pastor Bryan Lowe

A repentant rascal with definite issues, but who is seeking to be authentic in his faith to Jesus Christ. An avid reader and a hopeful writer. Husband and father. A pastor and Bible teacher. A brain tumor survivor. Diagnosed with clinical depression, epilepsy, and now disabled. Enjoys life, such as it is, in Alaska.

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