One of the hardest things about mental illness, in and out of the church, is that it flies in the face of our desire for control and our sense of fairness.
It brings a lot disillusionment and confusion because it doesn’t play fair with our expectations about the spoken and unspoken rules we have about how life should work.
Whether we’re aware of them or not we tend to buy into an exchange economy with life or God, formulas for success and happiness.
If I’m strong, I’ll overcome challenges.
If I’m smart enough, I’ll figure it out.
If I’m determined enough, I won’t give up.
If I do it right and play by the rules, I’ll be rewarded and I’ll be safe.
If I do all those things, if I just stick to it just a little bit longer, if I push just a little bit harder, I won’t have to ask for help. It will get better.
If I eat right, I’ll be healthy.
If I’m faithful and devout, if I read my Bible, pray and go to church, I’ll be blessed.
If I trust God more and have more faith, it will make sense.
If I sacrifice and don’t complain, it will pay off in the end. I won’t be abandoned and left alone.
If I do what you (leaders) tell me, I’ll be accepted and loved.
If I read the right parenting books, listen to the right experts and sermons, my kids will turn out great.
If I am strong and persevere, then I’ll be a good testimony of my faith and what God says in the Bible.
I’ll have a good life.
I’ll be protected from harm and abuse.
I’ll be happy.
I won’t suffer.
Mental illness does not respect intelligence, talent, appearance, education, faith, wealth.
It can hit anyone even people trying really really hard to do the best they can.
I’m looking forward to the Shattering Stigma conference tomorrow at New Hope Church and hopefully hear and talk to others about how mental illness has impacted them and their faith or their churches.