My good blogging buddy Cate from over at Infinite Sadness or... hope? very kindly gave me the heads up on an article that someone had shared with her.
The article, entitled - "Jesus Christ 'may have suffered from mental health problems' claims Church of England" appears in the Express Newspaper's online site.
It opens with the statement "Written by the Rev Eva McIntyre on behalf of the Church’s Archbishops’ Council and the Time to Change mental health campaign, it suggests John the Baptist, St Paul, St Francis and other figures from the Bible may all have been mentally ill.
Because of the importance of this initiative in my opinion, I am posting this post on all four collective community based blogs that I am involved in: Resonate Freedom, Christian Concern For Mental Health, Teens For Global Mental Health Awareness, and The Mental Health Writers Guild. For those of you who follow more than one of these blogs and thus have this repeated in your inbox I apologize but it really is such a great and important cause in my opinion.
Here is how this thing works:
1.) Take the pledge by copying and pasting the following into a post featuring “Blog for Mental Health 2013″.
I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.
2.) Link back to the person who pledged you.
3.) Write a short biography of your mental health, and what this means to you.
In terms of a short bio in respect of my personal mental health this can be found here, but since this is a collective/community blog I will simply skip this part here. But I do look forward to reading those of anyone who does pledge as a result of this post
4.) Pledge five others, and be sure to let them know!
Here again, due to the collective/community based nature of this blog I am not going to pledge any blog or blogger in particular BUT I do want to encourage all the followers and/or members of this blog to seriously consider getting involved and committing to this cause if you have the time. It really is such an important cause in my opinion.
5.) And, as something novel for 2013, Lulu and I ask one more thing of you.
As you may have noticed, Canvas does not keep an official blogroll, outside of links to our authors’ personal blogs. For something new and special to introduce Blog For Mental Health 2013, and really build a sense of community — and show everyone how many of us there are, and how strong we are, coming together — we are launching a Blog For Mental Health 2013 Official Blogroll! So, in addition to linking back to the person who pledged you, please include the link to the original post in your piece. As this gets passed along, link back or click here and leave a comment containing the link to your pledge, and we will put you on our Blog For Mental Health 2013 Official Blogroll page! Show the world our strength, show them our solidarity, show them what we are made of. Take the Blog for Mental Health pledge and proudly display the badge on your blog!
I am so honored to be a part of this cause I hope and pray that so many others will also get involved if they are able!
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 NIV
If… I reveal to you my weakness, will you lend me some of your strength?
If… I show to you the scars of my past, will you tend them and cleanse them and share those you also bear?
If… I admit to you that I am lost, will you take me by the hand and help me find my way?
If… I waver in uncertainty, will you help me find my direction?
If… I release my tears to you, will you meet them with your own?
If… I uncover my failings, will you cover them in understanding?
If… I fail to be the person I should be, will you respect me back to who I was?
If… I stand before you naked in my vulnerabilities, will you clothe me in the security of your love?
What if… I was was blind?
What if… I was poor?
What if… I was suffering from a contagious illness?
What if… I was crippled?
What if… I was foreign?
What if… I was suffering from poor mental health or a mental illness?
What if… I was a child?
What if… I was a child – a child of God?
The Schizophrenia Commission, an independent group of experts, has released a report on a year-long inquiry it conducted which looked into schizophrenia care in England. The results of the report "The Abandoned Illness" make for extremely interesting reading. But as interesting as they are they will by no means come as a shock to anyone who, like myself, suffers from Schizophrenia...
I wonder how many of us have been falsely accused, doubted, mistrusted or even rejected as a result of our mental health issues? I wonder how many of us have even done this to ourselves?
With the advent of such programs as CSI (and all it’s various spin-offs) plus Waking The Dead, Cold Case, Criminal Minds etc we are perhaps becoming more and more aware of the way legal systems work and indeed how important the credibility of such things as evidence and testimony really is.
Let’s be honest here. Evidence can be corrupted, contaminated, falsified or misleading and testimony is only as credible as the person giving it.
But even though we are potentially more aware of these facts do we apply the same requirements for credibility when it comes to our every day personal lives and indeed when it comes to our mental health?
As someone who suffers from mental illness I am constantly led (by those mental illnesses and their resultant behaviors, thoughts and attitudes plus the reactions of others) to believe that my thoughts are untrustworthy and that I am damaged and not worth loving.
But as a Christian who suffers from mental illness do I simply accept that to be true?
Consider that statement with me for a moment if you will…
As someone who suffers from mental illness I am constantly led (by those mental illnesses and their resultant behaviors, (which appears to be evidence) thoughts and attitudes (which appear to be testimony) plus the reactions of others (which came come in the form of both testimony when speaking of us and evidence when interacting [or choosing not to interact with us].) to believe that my thoughts are untrustworthy and that I am damaged and not worth loving.
But are they credible? Are they Valid?
As a Christian I fully believe that all scripture is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV)
Scripture is without doubt credible therefor and it is without doubt the very source of truth.
What is more since it is “God-breathed” and since God is our perfect loving heavenly Father it is the perfect vehicle through which or against which we can view things in a loving and truthful way. A love and truth based filter, if you like, which will remove the impurities and untruths presented by the world.
A world which – according to the same source of truth – we already know to be fallen and imperfect.
So we have our truthful and trustworthy – our credible evidence – the bible. But God is so very gracious to us isn’t He? Even more than the credible evidence of the scriptures we have also been given credible testimony of both Christ Jesus – whose credibility and integrity are beyond reproach – and God’s Holy Spirit – whose credibility and integrity are also beyond reproach.
So how do we apply such credible testimony and evidence against the corrupted, contaminated, falsified and misleading testimony and evidence that seems to be a constant part of our lives?
Well for one we must, I believe, apply their truth just as constantly as the falsehoods come.
Ephesians 6:10-18 speaks of the Full Armor of God…
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV)
Let’s re-look at verse 13.
“13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13 NIV)
Attacks will come! There is no doubt of this. Part of a knight’s training was to become used to the armor that he wore and used. It’s weight, how it moved, how he would have to move within it, how to use it effectively.
Using, being familiar with and taking up ourselves as a second skin if you will, the full armor of God is therefore essential since we already know that those attacks are coming. Check out the rest of the passage…
“14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:14-18 NIV)
Amazing words aren’t they? Yes those attacks will come and those; corrupted, contaminated, falsified and misleading evidence and testimony that we spoke of early may not always be readily identifiable as coming from the enemy but you can be assured they will be used by the enemy. Take another look at verse 12 with me if you will…
“12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)
Consider, if you will, that statement and then think about those bad thoughts, poor reactions, inappropriate responses that are all too familiar and then look at verse 16…
“16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)
Just as scriptures are full of testimony and evidence that weakness and poor mental health cannot separate us from God, this whole passage is full of encouragement and indisputable evidence of how we can overcome.
And let there be no misunderstanding here. At no point in this or any other scripture in my opinion does it say there will be no battle. But it does, they do clearly demonstrate that a) we fight not alone, b) the battle is already won and c) our mental health does not make us unacceptable to God.
In the English court of law (or certainly last time I checked) those appearing as a witness (and who were not of an opposing religious conviction) were asked to give this following oath, an affirmation or a promise as follows…
“Oath: I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Affirmation: I do solemnly and sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Promise: I promise before Almighty God that the evidence which I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
They are excellent assurances and and good thing to aspire to aren’t they? To give the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? So why is it that we so often fail to do so when it comes to mental illness – and especially our own?
In the scriptures we have credible evidence and credible testimony, through the person of Christ Jesus and the presence of God’s Holy Spirit we have credible evidence and credible testimony as to the truth that our mental illness is not bigger than God’s love and does not exclude us from His love.
As we have seen, by God’s grace we have both evidence, testimony and armor in this regard and so how about we recognize such attacks for what they are – fiery darts and responding accordingly.
I started this post with a couple of linked questions…
“I wonder how many of us have been falsely accused, doubted, mistrusted or even rejected as a result of our mental health issues? I wonder how many of us have even done this to ourselves?”
I encourage you, prayerfully read Ephesians 6:10-18 and see how you can apply it to your life and your mental health issues or those of folk you know and love.
And I encourage you – lets go beyond giving evidence and testimony that is “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” let’s also only accept evidence and testimony that is “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
Its a wonderful message, promise and encouragement isn't it?
Mental illness and poor mental health can be such a consuming thing at times and as well as bringing so many different textures, shades and colors to your life can also seemingly rob them from it at times too.
As a Christian who suffers with both poor mental health, with mental illnesses and with poor physical health also I am so very much aware of this, and indeed just how all consuming it can seem at times.
Tender moments are so very important aren’t they? They can reach into the very heart of turmoil and offer; shelter, protection, belonging, affirmation, and comfort.They can reach out to us not only in the communion of present reality but from the storehouse of memories also.
And I truly believe that. How many times, when we have been in need of comfort or reassuring have we immediately thought back to a happier or special moment from our pasts?
But one thing that we can be sure of in life is that troubles and trials will come to us all and as much as tender moments are important, turmoil – especially for those of us who suffer mental illness – is a constant possibility.
Turmoil does many things doesn’t it? Brings fear, anxiety, threat, often confusion. It can rob us of our direction, of our confidence, and reminds us of our vulnerability often inducing an aspect of our insignificance and weakness.
Sometimes, for those of us who suffer from mental illness, even those strong in their faith, we can fail to see any way out of that turmoil, to picture any help any escape.
This is not, I believe the absence of faith, so much as it is the overwhelming presence of circumstances – real or perceived. Circumstances which shout power or which echo our inadequacy as they seek to overwhelm us and distract us and cause us to take our eyes off of our Saviour.
So what is our place as Christians in circumstances such as these, when turmoil comes to the mind of someone with mental health? Is it to judge? Is it to add to their feelings of inadequacy or insignificance? I truly think not.
Or is it a place of love, of support, of compassion and of confidence giving? I believe it is.
As a Christian with mental health issues, I know only too well such times when turmoil snares the mind. Likewise I know only too well how it can drive me towards darkness and a feeling of desperation – feelings and thoughts which comes with those oh so harmful thoughts of worthlessness and insignificance.
And I thank God for those brothers and sister in Christ who through their words, prayers and actions, are there for me when this happens and who remind me that no matter how great the turmoil may be our God is greater and no matter how small and insignificant I may believe myself to be – Our loving heavenly Father is, as this song demonstrates, always willing to crouch down small enough to reach and hold and rescue me…