As with anything, those of us with mental illness have much to think through. I believe that God will direct us through these issues. And these are not static things. It isn’t “one and your done”– these are ongoing. They never get completely resolved; you must get used to this. The following list is not meant to be exhaustive.
- Stigma— This is one of the basic hazards that comes with having a mental illness. People will whisper and treat you like a moron, even in church. You’ll need to be thick-skinned. Ask Jesus for his help. He understands what it’s like. At the time some considered him mentally disturbed. You’re in good company.
- Medications– This will be a stretching time as you must determine what is best for you, your family and basic functionality. There will be many opinions and many issues that will arise. Your patience will be required (but isn’t it always?) Oh, and booze is not a med. It is your enemy and a real threat to your sanity. Quit now.
- Church—“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” should be our rally spot. We need fellowship. It is easy to just go it alone, but we will suffer a barrenness which we will see in our hearts. (I’ve chafed at this from time to time.)
- Therapy— To go or not to go? A good therapist is worth their weight in gold doubloons, but a bad one can be hard to abide. Also, a Christian may not always be the best for you personally. My current is a unbeliever, but is very respectful regarding my faith.
- Marriage— A faithful spouse/friend is key to managing your mental illness. Invite them to your appointments. Talk, listen, talk, listen, talk. and then listen some more.
- Family— They will feel the brunt of your issues. It is good to be aware of this and adjust to their needs. Above all, don’t flog yourself for your failings. Trust in the Lord to redeem things. Look for ways to love them. (Surprise ice cream does wonders.)
- Work— Not surprisingly, some employers have little tolerance for your issues, but the law says is that they can’t discriminate against a mental illness. I hope it won’t come down to that.
- Social/friend-– Finding other mentally ill believers is priceless. When I meet someone who also struggled with severe depression I give them a big hug. We instantly have a comradeship that isn’t easily defined.
- Pray–Desperate prayers have a tendency to get answered. Start praying for five minutes a day. Pray, not complain. Be real, not religious. Talk with Jesus like he was your best friend. Prayer is the key to making everything work.
We have the joy of combining our discipleship with our illness. This is a formidable task. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit stands ready to give you wisdom. You will discover that its the tiny issues that can really ‘rock your world.’ (And I’m beginning to think that “grittiness” should be added to the fruits of the Holy Spirit?)
The Lord truly will accommodate your illness with His power and grace. He always does this for His children. No one is ever abandoned or forgotten.
“There is no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, one.right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose.”
— Alan Redpath
These are only some of the areas that are affected by your mental illness. Oh, a wise spouse, pastor, friend, or a therapist can do wonders when things are out of whack.
The spiritual disciplines of prayer and the Word will assist you. Having people pray for you will be a necessity and may provide you relief and restore your sanity. Just remember, some people still remember how to pray.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
,, Philippians 1:6, NLT
Let me tell you one of the perils of writing a post. I know what I want to say, but I am seldom happy about the end product. I suppose it comes as part of the job description and, yet it chafes me to no end.
And, if the truth be told, many others experience the same thing. We really do strive for clarity but end up terribly misunderstood. (I am fairly certain there are those who know this frustration even as they read this.)
Proverbs blares out a desperate warnings to our souls. We must listen to them.
We’re all communicators by nature; some do a bang-up job of it, others, not so much. Being misunderstood is the norm of many, and the strange occupational hazard of the believer.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
The book of Proverbs speaks directly to this dilemma. Healthy words smash through our issues bringing light and hope to others. It’s clear God wants our words to matter. We learn to share things by His Spirit. How exciting though! To speak love and grace to those who need it most is a rare gift these days.
Then there are those who cause death by words. We can ‘slice and dice’ people we love. Isn’t it any wonder why people around us struggle so? Many understand the power of evil words and even use them intentionally. (Sometimes I flinch inside when I hear a mother berate her young son in the grocery store.)
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Here in Proverbs we read of people whose rash words are compared to a bloody sword thrust. They jab, slash and cut. They are malicious and hurtful. We can cause far too much pain. God forgive us. Satan gets his glory by things we say. Lord, have mercy.
Others have the opposite outcome. Their words bring healing. I have known people like this. They have an aura about them–a special superpower. They say profoundly simple things of wisdom. Healing seems to follow them around. (Yet I also have seen other believers stall, because they couldn’t control their mouth.)
When will we understand that words are powerful; they pierce or they can heal? It’s your choice. Between you and me, I want to say and write that which has a lasting and a healing effect on others.
I must remember that I’m the custodian of the words I speak. My tongue speaks only what is going on in in my heart.
Give me a true heart, O God. I want to carry healing to others. Help me to bridle my tongue. Amen.
“And you will feel secure, because there is hope;
you will look around and take your rest in security.”
“If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
Bedding down in the ruins of an old adobe church gave me a great deal of apprehension. I was anxious because at night all the scorpions, snakes and tarantulas do most of their exploring. Now I have an uncommon fear of tarantulas, at night I have seen them come out and the ground was churning. But as a missionary in rural Mexico and I guess I figured that I ought not shirk my expected routine. But I was spooked. I am a true arachnophobiac.
Job and the Book of Proverbs combine to correctly identify the personal security issues for the believer. We’re most vulnerable when we lie down to sleep. When you think about it, that’s when we are most accessible and open to assault.
But there are promises that are given to believers that reassure us and secure us. It is a remarkably basic promise, that we can lay down and God will stand watch over us as we rest. But I contend that there other times, times when He watches us and guides us through a myriad of unseen difficult things. He secures us, and then keeps us.
My time in the Mexican desert taught me some incredible lessons. I must admit though, that sleeping on the ground was an ordeal. I had to trust that the Lord would take special care over me as I lay defenseless. I could not defend myself, so I trusted Him and slept. I ‘shut down’ my imagination and trusted Him who I could not see. (I didn’t even bother to look for tarantula ‘tracks’ around my bedroll in the morning.)
We live in a time of complex danger. Bad things have become increasingly routine and we have come to the point were we just can’t protect ourselves, or those we love. Jesus warned us that this would happen.
Paul writes of this intensification of evil things.
We must trust Him who is unseen. We are to be people that move toward ‘the wings’ to find shelter. I believe this is a volitional decision. We make a verbal commitment to our protecting One, that He will shield us from those who are evil and perhaps even deranged.
He loves us so much. We can trust Him completely and fully. Even in the face of very big spiders.
“The only known antidote to fear is faith.”