Crazy Christians….let’s talk about it

It’s coming out more and more, but not at a level that I can say I’m content with.

Churches dealing with those in the congregation that have forms of mental illness.

During my almost week stay inpatient, I was surrounded by those who were struggling like me. We had a natural bond, protected each other and comforted when we could. We all had labels (depression, suicidal, PTSD, bipolar, etc.) but it didn’t matter because we were somewhere safe and not going to be excluded by our labels, but embraced because of them.

Then I got out into this real world and it’s scary. I’m pushed to hide my true struggles and have my “soccer mom smile on big and bright with a pan of brownies” (which I have never been good at…I have a natural ticked off resting face…and my brownies always suck….take it up with God for creating me.) We have to play by the rules deemed by who decided “normal” was (that person is a jerk) and hope nobody sees we are breaking violently from the inside out. Nobody wants to embrace a label too much. We are just too much to handle.

If I dare say that I feel sad, depressed, hopeless, helpless, lost, suicidal, maniac….I just might lose my Christian punch card. The one that keeps score of how many times I’ve attended, took notes and smiled to greet my neighbor. But if we use our mental illness as our testimony, we have a unique perspective and ability to speak about grace, love and of self-acceptance, with some authority.

Those of us in the church who have our sufferings out in the open have been placed there with a strategic purpose. Our voice tells those there is grace, forgiveness and hope, more so than Faithful Fanny and her life of no bumps or hiccups.

This is our time to be that light leading others to God. Our “unspoken hush-hush mental quirks” screams there is a grace in weakness that we aren’t talking about. Those who receive us in the body, are receiving God and those who mumble and point….well, you aren’t exactly God’s favorite, are you!

It is time for those of us with our mental afflictions to shout out about it, illuminate it and to be transparent so that we can show our God of open arms, love and mercy. Because what you call weakness is really major strength.

9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-11 (HCSB)


Categories: Adversity, being real, christian life stuff

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6 replies

  1. First, I’m coming over for brownies. I want all the broken pieces.
    Second, you speak the truth with grace humor. Your voice is beautiful and quirky.

  2. I believe in full disclosure. I realize that I can be a bit much to handle at times, but I don’t attempt to hide who I am. I struggle, and I am not afraid to talk about it. But, you know, it took me three decades to get to this point. There are still too many Christians who are too afraid to be real. My pastor’s wife in one such person. Because she’s a pastor’s wife, she is required to have it all together, all the time. But in reality? She struggles with anxiety and depression, among other things. She has confided in me that she simply cannot be real with people about it because of her position. How is that right?! It hurts me because I understand her struggles, as I struggle with the same things. But I cannot imagine being forced into silence and only able to confide in a select few. My heart breaks for her. It makes my heart happy to read things like this, and see people boldly breaking down the barriers of stereotypes. You rock, Alycia! And know that you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. I always try to remember that everyone has an untold story. Even those who often seem like they have “no bumps” — oh I bet the tire tracks are a bit gutted on their journey too. People in my home church have that impression of me: because I am new here. I didn’t grow up amongst them. But my church I grew up in – they know my story. I just haven’t told it here – in it’s entirety yet. And I suspect if I did, I probably wouldn’t be teaching Sunday School anymore. Some people just can’t handle the harsher, dirty reality of life sometimes. They need the bubble.
    And I so agree with what the poster above said about their pastor’s wife. I see this happening in my church too. Our junior pastors (a married couple) actually left the church last year. And I suspect it did have something to do with the wife having trouble with depression and an eating disorder. People couldn’t handle her behaviour. They didn’t know how to “fix” her — but perhaps she was not their problem to solve. But she certainly was still the child of God that deserved support and prayer. Instead of seeing the cry for help — they just saw the awkwardness of it, and didn’t know how to help her. They saw inappropriate behaviour that made them uncomfortable and concluded her testimony as a pastor was ruined. Instead of seeing the opportunity for the working of grace and mercy.
    So sad. I wish I had known at the time it happened.

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