Mentally Ill Christians Can Do Ministry

 

“Religious people love to hide behind religion. They love the rules of religion more than they love Jesus. With practice, Condemners let rules become more important than spiritual life.”

Mike Yaconelli

“We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. … That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.” 

                                                                C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 

People with mental illnesses, for the most part, have been diverted underground.  We have been pushed into hiding our true identity;  we can come out into the open, but only if we agree to play according to the rules—their rules. 

We are expected to censor ourselves and say appropriate things at the right time.  Pharisees [who are alive and well] insist on a level of purity that all must maintain. [I am not picking on anyone, just a generality.]

If I say that I am depressed, paranoid, manic, or desperate I will upset the apple cart and muddle up everything.  “Truth?  You can’t handle the truth?”, [a line from some movie.]  But if we use our shortcomings as credentials, we have the ability to speak about grace, love, and of self-acceptance, with real authority. 

Christians with mental illnesses have been given a gift that we are to share with the Church.  The Holy Spirit has sprinkled us into each fellowship of believers.  He places us as we are suffering in strategic places. Our “gifts” are to speak to the Body, spiritually about a lot of things, but especially grace. 

If our fellowships become religious, it is usually because of our weaknesses, we have allowed ourselves to be silenced into submission by the “interpreters” of scripture.  If we don’t like the rules, we are told to go elsewhere.  We are not welcome. 

But don’t you see, that is our moment to shine! 

Our “unsightly” presence shouts out to the “wonderful” people, proclaiming grace in weakness.  Those who receive us, receive Him.  Those who turn from us, muffling us, are doing that to Jesus. Frightening, isn’t it?  It’s interesting to note that those who do not believe yet have often used “legalism” as the touchstone for their evaluation.

I would strongly suggest that we take our illnesses into the open.  That we become transparent toward others.  As we do this, we can oh-so-gently guide our fellowships into true grace and love.  They look at me and they see Jesus. 

And that is our ministry as mentally ill people to the Church. 

9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power  is perfected in weakness.”  Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”

10 “So because of Christ,  I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

                               2 Corinthians 12:9-11 (HCSB)

Dear friend, the gospel is either radical, or it is nothing.

 

The Incarnation

“The central miracle asserted by Christians is the incarnation. They say that God became man.”

C.S. Lewis

Incarnation, the central Christian doctrine that God became flesh, that God assumed a human nature and became a man in the form of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the second person of the Trinity. Christ was truly God and truly man.

Have a blessed Christmas. Know deep down that He has come for you, He holds you and cares for you. He will never ever leave you!

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This Special Place, Where it is Always Christmas

“This Gospel anticipates a world far different from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia,where it is “always winter, and never Christmas.” But the promise of the Gospel is that it is always Christmas. To be “in Christ” is to enjoy each morning as a Christmas morning with the family of God, celebrating the gift of God around the tree of life.”

–Kevin Van Hoozer

Christmas can be a torment and tribulation for so many. I have no doubt it brings grief. Family, friends, finances– mixed liberally with heavy doses of materialism and manipulation will always bring us issues.  The music and decorations are mostly mere Novocaine (which doesn’t always work). Stress builds up. And we want none of that.

Being mentally or physically ill often accentuates these issues. I’m not sure why exactly, but suicide increases during this season. Perhaps the challenges Christmas brings just overwhelm a person who is struggling hard just to make it.

“Christmas is for children. But it is for grown-ups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and a nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chilled hidebound hearts.”  

–Lenora Mattingly Weber

As I think about Christmas, it is helpful for me to see it as a “mirror.” It is my reflection back to me. What we see, is who we are. If we have issues in our own life, the Season will just magnify them.  But this doesn’t mean its bad, far from it. There is always conflict, but this spiritual combat can bring us success. Some things must be fought for.

I’m convinced that in all of this, there is opportunity.  

The chance to connect to “Christmas”. The very idea is quite strange.  But Christmas can be an exquisite treat.  It is made by mixing love and truth in generous portions. As we look hard for it, there is something that moves us to a place far beyond us. Grace makes us to stand and look, perhaps for the first time.

When we truly process this, we’ll find “Christmas”. And honestly, it is more than a holiday. For the Christian, it is special time. And yes, there will be times when it is trying, but in my own thinking, Christmas has become a time of great joy and anticipation.

It won’t take much, maybe a little imagination on your part.

But those things you do may ignite and become a blaze that will direct them through their lives. Be kinder then you need to.

“The universal joy of Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring the bells when princes are born, or toll a mournful dirge when great men pass away. Nations have their red-letter days, their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus of Nazareth claims this world-wide, undying remembrance. You cannot cut Christmas out of the Calendar, nor out of the heart of the world.”   

Anonymous

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The Strange Ramblings of a Broken Believer

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“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”   

— C.S. Lewis

I think I am often a creature of habit, far more than I’d like to admit. I rather think we choose our habits and inclinations.  They, in turn, decide our paths.  But I suppose we give ourselves too much credit, to decide and direct.  Simply put, we are not that big. I honestly don’t think we have the power to steer our lives the way we like. That is what I’m thinking about today anyway.

Somebody once told me, “The purpose of life is not to find your freedom, but to find your master.” 

I don’t live that way, at least my inner propensity does not include God.  Did you ever think something like this?  “I wish God did not exist.  I want to be in charge, and I want to do, how I want to do, when I want to do it!”

Living it all with no rules and no accountability! Somehow I still seem to find myself sitting on my throne. I like this!

But as we get older, our hair goes gray and we look in the mirror and see bags and wrinkles, we realize how vulnerable and how tenuous life really is.  If we are honest and sufficiently self-aware, we understand that we will never be able to seize control of the known universe.

“Life is what happens while you are making other plans,” John Lennon observed. 

It seems that reality springs on you, and you have this bolt out of the blue that shocks you to the core.  Life has happened, and you didn’t even realize it.

I sometimes look at myself in the mirror, not in vanity, but in steady amazement.  The ugly tattoos, and the ‘track marks’ are from another life. I have scars on my wrists from a couple of suicide attempts.  I have an amazing surgical zipper scar from a brain tumor.  I have severe ataxia that makes me walk with a cane. I have lost the use of my right hand in an accident. But I am also learning how to be broken.  And everything that has happened has happened for a reason.

C.S. Lewis once said, “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.”  

I sense that he did learn, otherwise he couldn’t have said that.

Re-reading this I decided that I ramble a lot.  Forgive me.  Maybe there is scrap or two in it for someone.

“I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling.”

1 Corinthians 2:3

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