Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the hidden struggle of mental illness

A couple of friends were recently kind enough to come and open their hearts and their lives and give me peek into the world of mental illness in their family and in the church.

Mental illness is real. Mental illness is not usually handled very well by the people of God or by churches. Sadly there are few resources to help those who are dealing with mental illness in their own lives or in the lives of the ones they love. There is so much struggle, hiding, hurt and shame.

Mental illness, like other challenges, is a unique journey of faith.

Here at Grace we want to support families dealing with the challenges of mental illness. We are not exactly sure how to do that. I have asked these friends to stay in dialogue to help us in this area.

In the meantime, these friends have been kind enough to donate some books that they have found helpful over the years. I have briefly reviewed each of them and feel like all offer a helpful and empathetic Biblical perspective. These titles are now available in the church library. . . .

Losing God by Matt Rogers

Grace for the Afflicted by Matthew Stanford

Darkness is My Only Companion by Greene McCreight

Helping Someone with Mental Illness by Rosalyn Carter

When Your Family is Living with Mental Illness by Marcia Lund


Joanie said...

Real life. Real struggles. Real hope in Jesus. Thanks, Tim for addressing our realities and helping to create a more open dialogue of what Christians really face. It isn't all potlucks and praise and it helps to have our pastor bring forth a blessing on being more honest with each other. I think some real good can be done here along with more opportunities for intercessing for one another.

Mama Mote said...

Wish I would have had these books when my mom was alive. She suffered depression and I don't know what else, but it hurt to see her going through the things she went through. And I didn't know how to help. Incidents at the church almost made me want to leave because I was embarrassed, but I had a good group of friends who encouraged, prayed and helped me through the pain. THAT'S what helped me get through the tough days. The prayer for the strength from God. It's nice to see that the family who came to you will hopefully be able to address this issue in the church. And that they trusted you enough to come to you and share this part of their lives.

Anonymous said...

Right on, Pastor Tim!
Thank you for stepping into a messy part of Life! JESUS did that too, in His incarnation. HE came down from Heaven, shared in our afflictions, bringing Hope to a broken and lost world. JESUS calls His people to follow in His footsteps.

Many years ago a member of my family with mental illness ended their life by suicide. My loved one had a mental illness and suffered much. So did my family, all of whom (except me) are without JESUS, and without Hope.

The lost and broken need JESUS. GOD calls us to follow JESUS, to share in others’ afflictions, and to bring His Hope. May the church of JESUS CHRIST be willing to reach out to mentally ill and their families with the Gospel.

This is not easy, but there is no other Hope for this broken world. Pastor, please keep preaching JESUS in the messy parts of Life! HIS Gospel is Life saving.

Anonymous said...

My wife was saved at a Grace church Bible study back in '86. We now attend Calvary Chapel in the 5 cities area where we live. Our son has mental illness, and although well-meaning, we have had several folks basically accuse us of not having enough faith. Or if we were only better parents, things would have turned out differently.
This is very hurtful to us, and we're glad to see a church addressing the issue. Mental illness is real just as diabetes or other biological diseases and chemical imbalances, and it would be good for the body to come to grips with this reality. It would be far more comforting to us if only people would simply say they will keep us in their prayers rather than give their opinions and advice (most of which we tried already over and over to no avail).
We have found comfort through brothers and sisters in the Lord that have similar experiences (e.g., family members with mental illnesses). Sharing our burdens with other such families at NAMI support groups has been helpful also. See 2 Cor. 1:3-5 and also NAMI's website: www.namislo.org
Thanks and God bless!

Anonymous said...

Leslie: Thank you Grace for making the effort to become involved in the families with mental illness. We know, from the loss of our daughter, that mental illness kills. Prayer, and support of other believers are the only way to get through this horrific struggle of the ones we love. We have another daughter with mental illness and we covet your prayers...often...and then more. Thanks to our God for his Grace.