Spoken In Love – Of Millie’s Story.

Originally posted on Voices of Glass:

I saw something this morning and my heart was truly touched.  It brought a joy and a blessing to my heart, to my life, which so very desperately needed this morning…

My life – and thus this blog, since this blog is a reflection of my life – as regular readers will know, includes my faith in Christ Jesus.  I am a Christian and I am a Christian who experiences poor mental health.  In truth I make no apologies for and have no hesitation in admitting either the fact that I am a Christian or the fact that I experience mental health issues.  For to conceal either would be a lie.

And yet the admission of either my faith or indeed my poor mental health does sadly, without doubt, sometimes invoke mixed and often very unhelpful and indeed very unhealthy responses.  But what is more tragic -in my opinion –…

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Overwhelming Love

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Overwhelming Love

Overwhelming Love

I find that my heart is burdened this morning.  I say that not for dramatic effect or as some sort of cleverly conceived attention grabber.  It is just a matter of fact and indeed the reason for this post.

When I get this impacted I find that the best response is to do something about it.  Prayer, writing, – some for of expressing the feelings held within.

And what has me feeling this way?  Love actually, well overwhelming love actually.

The other morning I sat and listened as a lady came into the building I was in and asked someone I know – a fellow believer – for directions.  They were very politely given the requested directions and in response then asked the question -”Oh so what is it you do here then?”

What followed was (I would like to say) one of the most enthusiastic explanation of church and the gospel I have seen for a long time.  Sadly, I placed (I would like to say) in brackets because the truth is I really can’t say that. And sadly I have witnessed what happened a number of different times now.

No, what I witnessed was not the most enthusiastic explanation of church and the gospel but instead just an overwhelming and quite intimidating bombardment of regurgitated clichés and statements.

Don’t get me wrong. I am sure it was well intentioned and I am without doubt that it was fueled by love and concern and passion.  But sitting there listening it just came across as an in-your-face, overwhelming tirade of words and challenges.

Sledgehammer To Crack A Nut

Sledgehammer To Crack A Nut

Now I need to be fair here and at the same time be objective and honest.  I have mental health difficulties and I accept that I am acutely aware and probably acutely sensitive to such things. I do accept therefore that it is possible that the lady in question felt far less overwhelmed than I did by it all.  But having witnessed it and her reactions – I seriously doubt it.

And this seriously impacted me on two fronts…

Firstly, and most importantly, because I couldn’t help fearing that this kind of over-zealous approach does do more to frighten people away than to draw them in.

I love Christ and I am passionate about my faith.  I am also passionate about spreading the gospel of peace and sharing God’s love with folk. I am convinced that the eternal picture for anyone who does not have Christ is the bleakest we could ever imagine.  But I am also convinced that for that gospel of peace to be of any effect we have to be able to receive it and to process it.

A parched or starving man coming out of the desert is ill-advised to gulp at the food or water offered.  He simply can’t process it and begins to choke.  He needs to be fed slowly and compassionately and carefully.

Which brings me to the second front I was impacted on.  That of my own mental health difficulties. And again it is to do with the ability to process things.  Very often, when my mind is in disarray or turmoil, I find it almost impossible to process the simplest of things.

Even more than that, things come at me like darts or projectiles.  They seem – in my mind – to bombard me or close in on me.  Even the most innocuous or well intentioned comment – even the most loving of gestures can be overwhelming.  And this seems to happen on a sliding scale – the more my mind is playing up the more difficulty I have, the less my mind is playing up the less difficulty I have.

Isn’t that the way for so many of us – regardless of mental health difficulties?  I certainly think it is.  But for those of us who do suffer with mental health difficulties this is even greater I think.

Which leaves us with the question, “How do we demonstrate our love, and more importantly Christ’s love, in such a way that it is processable and can therefore be received?

And here, I can only answer honestly.  And that is to answer that our love MUST be truly selfless.  In other words, I truly believe that it must be given in a way which is tailored to the needs of the person receiving that love and NOT to the needs of the person giving it.

You see, in the instance I mentioned above – the one which impacted me so deeply, and which gave rise to my reflections and indeed this post – I have not one doubt that it was generated out of love.

A love for Christ.  A love for the gospel and a love for spreading that gospel.

I am also willing to accept that it was in part out of love for the person they were speaking to and their eternal situation.  But the fact is that the delivery was fueled and propelled only by that love and that concern for that person’s eternal situation and not with any regard to their current situation.

 

I am convinced however, that if we are to truly minister God’s love. If we are to truly spread the gospel of peace. We MUST do so in a way which is real and relevant and receivable.

And I close this post with one final statement and with – since I am convinced that the final authority must be God’s word – a passage of scripture.

“When love is overwhelming, no matter how loving it is, it simply remains overwhelming.”

1-corinthians-13

 

 

 

Originally posted on Voices of Glass:

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.” which is then followed by a paragraph reading… “It even asks followers to consider accusations made in the New Testament that Jesus “had lost his mind”.

Putting aside the whole issue of churches assigning “sainthood” on certain people – which I find erroneous and misleading –…

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Blog For Mental Health 2013 – An Invitation!

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blogformentalhealth20131winner

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.

Ok that one is fairly easy, it was initially Ruby over at I Was Just Thinking via my personal blog “Voices of Glass“.

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!

Closing remarks…

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!

Today’s Verse

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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…

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If…

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…

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?

boldkevin:

Add your thoughts here… (optional)

Originally posted on Mental Health Writers' Guild:

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…

“The poor quality of care offered to people with psychosis is particularly shameful because, in the last two decades, we have made great strides in understanding mental illness.”

Is just one quote from the report.

“We want an end to the discrimination faced by people with mental illness. 87% of service users reported experiences of stigma to our commission – these can often be worse than the symptoms themselves.”

Being another.

The report does seem ( my apologies as I am only part way through reading it as…

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Credible Evidence, Credible Testimony

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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 isthe truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

 

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