I feel both inspired and disillusioned after listening to a British evangelist. How could this be?
This evangelist, like so many others, preaches about the need for community. Agreed. But when my English friend relapsed into depression, the church members and leaders under this evangelist were “not nice” and “believed he had demons that needed exorcism”. He felt “insulted”. And as he began to lose countenance, the five-year long friendships could not hold. He began to feel, justifiably, rejected.
You see, the mentally ill listen in their own isolation even to the human ministries of religious institutions. Leaders, in their bid to march forward, lose sight of those who need the most mercy. And the stronger sheep follow.
Not all resistances to happiness and to pollyanna gospels are demon-inspired. Many are human-made. Many more are genetic. And most involve complex, chemical imbalances that persons with mental illness cannot do much about, and which neither extensive pastoral counselling nor exorcisms can cure.
There is a song by the Canadian alternative band, BNL. It has a line that goes like this,
“Jesus and mental health are for those who can help themselves,”
Ah, the irony. Even those little Christs running around preaching are still failing. The Christian Gospel begins to ring hollow.
As much as the Holy Spirit has moved me despite the defects of the many Christian ministers, the bottom line is that I am still a reject.
If I linger, I become a scapegoat.
I would entreat the Christian Church to become more inclusive, but as one murder mystery writer on BookTV says, after all her research into mental diseases and reactions to the mentally ill by societies throughout the world and down the ages, there was little variance. In fact, both the illnesses and the subsequent reactions are, and have been, surprisingly and predictably the same throughout virtually all cultures, and through the oral and written histories of humanity.
Is this to say the the Church and little Christs are like the rest of society? Sadly, yes. Are claiming ignorance, dropping the ball, pleading for more time to change, and trying to find special ministries to “deal” with the mentally ill, valid pardons? If, as the Southern Baptists say, everything we need to know—all the answers to life’s questions—are in the Holy Bible, we just haven’t looked hard enough and that’s our fault, then, literally—how in God’s name do we manage to graduate so many pasty, paltry pastors and ministry workers to positions in the field to “lead”. They claim imperfection, but 2,000 years is a long time to remain complacently in error.
I hope, though I don’t particularly expect, the Church will work to distinguish themselves from those who don’t believe, for “all food is clean and good for eating” even for zealots, as Peter, the Rock upon which the Church is built, had been told by the Lord. But, you know, I’ve been going to church all my life, I was dedicated to God at a year old, I’ve been mentally unstable since I was almost the age of two. I became suicidal at seven. At the age of twelve, I rededicated my life to Christ and I meant business. By fifteen, I was spending a lovely summer sitting opposite my bedroom wall, talking to myself. By eighteen, I began to dissociate from reality. Then on my twentieth birthday, I was admitted into hospital. Did I deserve everything I got? (Some Christian blogger seemed to think so and wrote in response to my blog that all mentally ill deserve everything they get. I’ll remember that, thank you; it’s indelible.) All my life, despite faithful church attendance until my thirtieth year, I have been, and, still am, sick…and I have always been, and, still am, rejected.
So what is to be done? Find a good atheist as psychiatrist and worship God at home. YES, do yoga. Befriend some dogs. Keep yourself well and get healthy. Work passionately on a creative project until you feel enriched. Call or Skype others who go through similar things for support. But understand that normal people, however churched they are, are all the same, whether they’re Christian or secular. The sad reality is that we do have a place in society, and that place is at the altar named Rejected, Yet Called. ~V
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