We all have sin in our lives, but there is so much more going on than simplistic and hurtful black and white thinking. Therefore we need to learn more and grow in grace for our Mental Illness.
Let’s crack the whip a bit louder against the soul.
It’s always saddening when you hear the story of someone who believes their mental illness is because of some sin in their life. Guilt and shame lock them into despair.
The Heart condition
A little story to begin our journey.
In my late teens, I developed a heart condition. My heart would suddenly begin racing up to 140 beats per minute.
I thought it was because of some sin in my life, so I confessed every known sin, prayed and prayed, yet this condition didn’t go away, in fact, it got worse.
Healing didn’t come until I saw a doctor and had some sophisticated heart surgery.
I had paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia or faulty electrical circuity in the heart that needed some focused medical attention. I haven’t had a heart problem since then.
As a child, I had severe Asthma and Eczema. Our pastor and the elders of the church came and prayed for me, but no miracle happened (at that time).
Some knowledge to wise up on
I’ve wrestled with this problem of wellness for many years and so I want to share with you some conclusions.
Still learning, still growing, still gathering wisdom.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. Miles Kington
1. We don’t know what we don’t know
This is a significant learning.
When we don’t know what we don’t know we draw our conclusions from the limited knowledge that we do know. The problem comes when our limited knowledge is flawed and faulty.
It’s best understood in this flow diagram.
2. Sin is a shift in gaze
When we think of the concept of sin, we so often we go to the big, bold sin stuff. The obvious – pride, swearing, cheating, adultery, lust, etc.
But sin is way bigger than that.
It’s the missing of the mark of perfection with God. It’s not measuring up.
Paul puts it this way.
Yes, all have sinned;
all fall short of God’s glorious ideal
I like what Simone Weil says
Sin is not being far from God, it’s turning our gaze in the wrong direction. Simone Weil
It’s not just the big shifts in our attention, its the micro flicking of our eyes away from Gods goodness and we all do that. Thank God for grace!
3. Immature spirituality
Our spirituality, our knowledge, and wisdom, are on a growth projection towards maturity.
In his thesis on love Paul writes these words.
It’s like this: when I was a child I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does.
But when I became a man my thoughts grew far beyond those of my childhood, and now I have put away the childish things. 1 Corinthians 13: 11
It’s good to acknowledge we don’t know everything, that there is more to learn.
Don’t become hard and fixed, black and white, about what you think you know.
God will most likely surprise you.
4. Weakened bodies
Once we were in perfect union with God.
No sin, no shifting of gaze, and perfect healthy and whole bodies. No cancers, warts, depression, anxiety, mental illness, tears, or fears. It was Eden, the garden of Eden.
But when Adam and Eve broke out of this perfect dance, our physical bodies cracked.
We are now physically prone to unwellness.
The basic building blocks of our genes carry from generation to generation vulnerabilities to illness, including mental illness.
Is that your fault? No, but it’s something you have to come to terms with.
Paul calls us unadorned clay pots 2 Corinthians 4:7
Tell that to some supermodel selfie stars, and you would give them perfect theology.
5. Broken world
To add to the soup, we also live in a broken world far far away from the serenity and perfection of Garden of Eden delight.
Pollution, unhealthy food, selfishness, brokenness, greed etc. all combine to act on the unadorned clay pot.
It becomes a cracked pot.
Stress is one of the key factors in the initation of a mental illness.
6. Natural consequences
The natural consequence of shifting our gaze, in a broken world, with a clay pot body will be stress, unwellness, and loss.
I remember praying for an elderly lady dying of lung cancer. She had smoked cigarettes al her adult life. She asked God to heal her, but she also realized that the disease was because of the natural consequence of her years of smoking. That it was her choices that brought her to this place.
She sadly died, but she was at peace knowing that a supernatural consequence of Gods love would be a newness and joy she had never experienced before.
7. Full of grace
God is full of grace to cracked pots living in a broken world.
There is an ocean of grace to our teaspoon of sin.
There is more knowledge to learn and wisdom to grow into.
An invitation is extended to dance with broken clay pot feet to the rhythm of a God who is deeply in love with you.
What to do next
- Be wary of the immature
Some people are stuck in black and white thinking. They want easy answers, formulas, quick-fix prayers. They take a bible verse of description and make it a prescription. Avoid people like these. Get some new friends. Wish them well and move on in your maturing.I had to, and you will have to as well.
- Shift the focus away from sin.
Whatever you focus on will grow.If you focus on sin, your failings, supposed judgment, hell, etc. Then these will generate anxiety, tightness, and fear.
Instead, focus on grace.
- Grow in grace
Show kindness to yourself and in particular your body.Show care and love for your ‘unadorned pot of clay.’
Jesus, the Christ, in his ‘pot of clay’ rested, exercised, ate and drank well.Grace sings a tune of acceptance and invites you to dance.
- Wise up
Learn about your cracked pot of clay. Move around the Conscious Competence Learning Matrix. There is always more to learn and grow in.
- Share your journey.
You’re not the only one on this path of healing. Others will value the insights you have learned. Perhaps you might like to share your cracked pot journey here on this blog.
We all have sin in our lives, but there is so much more going on than simplistic and hurtful black and white thinking. Therefore, we need to learn more and grow in grace for our Mental Illness.
Quotes to consider
- God is at work in you and through you—even in your limitations. All that is required of you is cooperation with what is. Phileena Heuertz
- Almost everyone in the Bible had a broken-world experience. Virtually no one was exempt. In fact, it’s tempting to reverse the myth that broken-world experiences are anomalous and suggest that everyone then and now will have a broken-world experience sooner or later. It may not always be the result of one’s own performance; it can be just as likely that one has to live with the consequences of someone else’s choices. Gordon MacDonald
- In pain, failure, and brokenness, God does His finest work in the lives of people. Gordon MacDonald
- Our gracious God chooses to remember our sins against us no more, that is, He will not bring the matter up again. Larry Crabb
- Sin is anything that destroys this attentive wakefulness [to God]. David Benner
- The Christian world, which incessantly projects its own god fashioned after its own image, pays a heavy price in anxiety, a scrupulosity that sees sin where there is no sin, and a vague sense of existential guilt. Brennan Manning
Questions to answer
- How would you respond to someone who says that Mental Illness it the result of sin?
- What personal views of what God is like need to change to in order for healing to happen?
- What in this post grabbed your attention? Why?
Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash