Stigma Sucks


Mental illness doesn’t necessary mean exotic or strange– but it does mean different. It doesn’t make one bizarre, or odd. Coming to faith in Christ really settles this issue for most. While our mental illness is flaring up, yet we are still being changed by the Holy Spirit. He’s still at work–perhaps hidden, but he still is there.

We can’t really nullify the work of God. It takes as much grace to change a “normal” man as a mentally challenged one. God does not have to work any harder; there are no lost causes or last chances. All require the same grace. I really must thank God for this. Seriously.

Since I fight with depression I’ve become aware of mental illness throughout history. Many painters and poets, inventors and doctors have come from the ranks of bipolar disorder. Because many of those with manic depression and sufferers of depression have excelled; we would not have harnessed electricity if it wasn’t because a bipolar/ADHD created the light bulb.

But we are different. But we also can bring a giftedness that is necessary. We are not pariahs or leeches, but rather we are unique. Typically we may be passionate and sensitive. We are touched by something creative. Some have called depression and bipolar disorder as those “touched by fire.”

Mental illness can be seen as more of a mental difference, than a liability. We are not crazy or lunatics running amok. Sometimes others pity us; often when they do they shut us off, and permanently seal us up into a weird sense of extreme wariness. This should not be.

13 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

Psalm 139:13-14, NLT

God has created each one. We are all “knit together” by the hand of God. There are no second rates– never prototypes, not quite His best work. The blood of Christ works in spite of handicaps and personality quirks.

Some may hesitate about this. But it’s essentially an act of faith. The treasures of the Church are unique. They are the blind and the lame, the ones not always stable. What others consider marginal, or lacking, are really the valuable ones. It’s these that the Church should glory in.

During the middle ages a large church was surrounded by vandals. The priest was told that by noon the next day he must bring out the treasure of the church and pile them out on the steps. The next day, the vandals found a group of lame, weak, sick and mentally ill out on the steps. “What are these,” the leader demanded. The priest calmly said–these are the treasures of the church. 

We’ve become the audio/visual department of the Church. They see us and understand God’s gift of grace.

I encourage you to broaden your thinking on this. To stigmatize others is never a healthy, or a God honoring attitude. It indicates a small heart. If you pass false judgement, He will deal with you.


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Author: Pastor Bryan Lowe

Studying God's Word is my joy. I want you to understand that there is nothing greater than a life given to Him. I'm an ordained pastor who lives in Alaska.

4 thoughts on “Stigma Sucks”

  1. I am working on a project that I hope will turn into a book one day regarding mental illness and the stigma surrounding the church. I am manic depressed (I think I like bipolar better, lol) but if I hear “just snap out of it” one more time…..


  2. And I was born with blonde hair.

    I know manic-depression is more than a challenge for the one who has the problem and the spouse, children parents. Have you read ‘Grain Brain’ by David Perlmutter, MD? Jewish doctors have given us so much in help, technology, medicine, research. This one about gluten sensitivity even if you don’t have Celiacs hits a note with me. We’ve started a gluten free life and will be tested for sensitivities to gluten in January. The good doc puts everyone of his neurology patients on gluten free diet first thing.

    I know the weaknesses we all have are used by God. In our weaknesses we are strong. Because he can work through us.

    I’ve always found wonderful insights in your posts, Pastor. So glad I found this blog. It’s appealed to the depths of my soul and heart and brain.


  3. It is hard to belong to the ‘church’ when the thing is so worldly. It honors and looks upon what the world sees as valuable and shuns and devalues what the world gives no value to. If you experience any type of mental disorder it’s your fault, get right with God and you’d be just fine. Of course, those with something better understood like diabetes get a pass… It will be very, very, very interesting on that day when Jesus sorts us all out and gives us all our “What For’s”. Can you imagine all the correction going on over the one issue of mental illness alone?

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