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.”