the weblog of Alan Knox

Some ARE listening to their brothers and sisters in Christ who have mental illnesses

Posted by on Apr 10, 2013 in discipleship | 4 comments

Some ARE listening to their brothers and sisters in Christ who have mental illnesses

First, I’ll be honest… I don’t like the phrase “mental illness.” But, I don’t know what else to use. I’m talking about emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. (If you know of a better phrase to use, please tell me.)

Yesterday, I published a fairly short post called “The church is talking about mental illness, but are we listening?” The point of that post was a simple one: While the church is talking about mental illness right now because of the tragedy in the family of a celebrity Christian, we need to be listening to those who have mental illnesses.

Yes, we can learn more about mental illnesses by listening to the people who struggle wit them. But, even more important, we can learn more about ourselves and about God by listening to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, including those who struggle with these kinds of issues.

I was extremely encouraged by the response to that post. I want to share some of those responses with you. These responses were left in the comments on that blog post:

Robert wrote: “What we need is people who have been there and out the other side to find their life redeemed to be ministers to those who need to know ‘It doesn’t have to end this way.'”

Liz wrote: “We need fewer people who pat us on the shoulder and tell us we need more faith. Maybe we do, but unless you’ve been there and out the other side, just do as Alan says. Listen to them and pray with and for them. Please.”

Tom wrote: “The single most important thing I think I have ever done for anyone is be there. To simply be present, engaged, encouraging and part of someones life, to love them as friends has been the highest calling of my life.”

Randi wrote: “Listening… being there… removing shame with love… referring to resources… prayer… that’s what I would picture Love doing for those who are battling this illness.”

Dan wrote: “See, listening is great. But there’s something that has to happen before listening; and that’s just showing up. Getting someone, anyone, to show up in person to be there for mentally ill people or their families is 80% of the battle.”

John wrote: “We have looked down upon people who deal with mental illness, as if they are ‘less than’, or as if we are so much more spiritually mature. To some degree, we expect them to somehow snap out of it and move on with their lives.”

And, here are a couple of responses from Twitter:

@morethanpepper wrote: “26 years as a christian with depression been quite the road”

@ReagonGood wrote: “31 yrs of depression it never goes away it plagues your mind its a day to day process you learn to cope or you may die trying”

I want to especially thank my friends who struggle with these issues and who contacted me privately. I appreciate and love each one of you.


4 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 4-10-2013

    The problem here is that the conversation can’t take place online. The stigma is still too great. People who talk about mental illness online get their confession locked away in Google forever, and anyone with a search engine can peer into that dungeon.

    Remember, online confessions regarding struggles with depression (or any other illness, mental or otherwise) are tomorrow’s search engine result for a potential employer. Likewise, that commentary on same-sex marriage.

    In short, people ARE listening. They may not be the right people, though.

  2. 4-10-2013

    Alan,

    I was of the wrong frame of mind to respond to your recent article, even though I wanted too. I had just read some of the most ungracious, unintelligent, and nonsensical responses to the Warren family’s sad loss.

    On top of that the newspapers were full of similar cowardly, puerile,foul comments regarding the death of ex Prime Minister of Great Britain, Maggie Thatcher.

    At my age I have no concerns such as those expressed by DLE. I doubt whether I would have had concerns such as those anytime in the last thirty years.

    Those who haven’t been there ought to reserve their comments until they can use their minds intelligently, but more importantly, graciously!

    During my lifetime in the Body of Christ, I was many times called upon to help people,deal with organic illnesses of many different kinds,both physical and mental.

    Why is it that those who claim to belong to the Family of God (church)find it in themselves to be gracious and loving towards those with physical illness, but revert to worldly values when it comes to mental illness?

    Some of the comments regarding the Warren tragedy can only be described as from the sludge of fleshly worldliness, and that from professed Christians. Huh?

    After many years in ministry I, my wife and family were put through the wringer of false accusations, which drove me into two years of deep depression. By God’s grace, and the patient grace of my dear wife, I came out of that pit, and ministered for several more years!

    My dearest friend, a much sought after pastor, went through the same experience, which destroyed his life,literally!

    The “Christians” who were nearest to him, couldn’t be found for the dust of their rapid departure. Exactly the same in my situation.

    Literally dozens of “Christians” were no where to be found until their comments came to light; comments very similar to the graceless, churlish comments being published regarding the first mentioned hurting families.

    It seems to me that I must have missed the commandment,”…love one another as I have loved you, BUT ONLY IF THEY AGREE WITH YOUR THEOLOGY, AND PHILOSOPHY OF MINISTRY.”

  3. 4-11-2013

    Dan,

    You said, “The problem here is that the conversation can’t take place online.” I agree 100%.

    James,

    Thanks for the link.

    Aussie John,

    Thank you for sharing your struggles with us. I know that it is difficult for many to share their struggles with depression and other mental/emotional issues.

    -Alan