What IF?

 

WHAT IF?…. You were afflicted with cancer and raised your hand in a Sunday School class to ask for prayer and support and as a result, you experienced any or all of the following responses from your family in Christ?

“Have you prayed about this cancer thing yet? Because God will certainly take this away if you just pray with enough faith.”

Someone handing you a piece of paper with a bunch of Bible verses about being healed as if you’d never read any of them before.

“Well you should be thankful you’re not a quadriplegic or something like that which causes REAL suffering and pain.”

“Have you asked God to show you where there might be hidden sin in your life which might be the thing which is causing this?”

“This is a stronghold or a demon, and you need to get deliverance from it because if you don’t, you can’t be a useful Christian.”
“Real Christian’s don’t get cancer. You should make sure that your faith in Christ is sincere.”

“You are just letting Satan have his way with you.  You are cooperating with him!”

“Have you tried reading your Bible?”

“I don’t happen to have cancer, so that pretty much qualifies me to teach you how to get rid of your cancer.”

“You’re seeing a doctor?! How is that trusting God??”

“You’re taking medicine for this?  That’s trusting in the wisdom of men, rather than trusting in God for healing.”

“Physical therapy?? That’s for weak and spineless people.  Just trust God to strengthen you instead.”

“If you would just trust God, you wouldn’t be suffering like this!”
“I would have to question whether or not you have received the Holy Spirit because the Spirit of Christ and cancer cannot dwell in the same body.”

“This is probably due to generational sin which has put a curse on you.  You’ll need to ask God to reveal the specific sins of your ancestors and then you’ll need to do this 7-step process of renouncing those specific sins and then your cancer will disappear.”

“Every time you go to a psychologist you are cooperating with the work of Satan!!”  You are on his team!”

Pretty “crazy” stuff –  eh?

Sadly…I could go on with more of these of these absurd responses, (many of which I have personally experienced), but I think I’ve shared enough to demonstrate just how hurtful and counterproductive these statements would be to someone suffering from cancer.
And guess what?  For every person that you know who is suffering from cancer, there’s someone else you know who is suffering from mental illness.  The difference is that they aren’t free to talk about it because if they do, they know that rather than being supported, they will face accusation and judgment.

The point I’m trying to make is that these are the kind of responses that people who suffer from mental illness experience and the consequences are truly painful and counterproductive.  This is what drives them into isolation and separates them from their family in Christ just when they need prayers, compassion, empathy, and support.
These are not isolated or rare events.  They are, sadly, very common.
And, if we are honest, the real reason that this happens is that there are still so many people within the body of Christ who deny the validity of mental illness. To them, it is always viewed as a sin/spiritual issue rather than a disorder of the brain.
Change will only happen when churches begin to validate the experience of mental illness in the exact same way they validate the suffering of any other type of illness and to treat those who are afflicted in the same manner that they treat others with differing afflictions. This why I continue to write about it.
Our online support group for Christians with anxiety disorders has grown very large because people are desperate to communicate with someone who really understands that their pain and suffering is real, that it’s often excruciating, debilitating and life-altering.  They are desperate for prayer and encouragement and someone to tell them that it’s more than okay to seek medical/professional help.  That it’s not a sign of weak faith.  That it’s not their fault that they are sick.  And that God’s grace is sufficient for this thorn too.

Affliction is a common experience for the Christian, but it’s not without purpose.  There are lessons to be learned through all kinds of suffering, and mental illness is not an exception to the rule.
What if The Church of Jesus Christ was a leader in showing the world how to support those who are suffering from mental illness in the exact same way they lead the world in how to support those who are suffering from any other form of trial, tribulation or persecution?  What if I could feel at ease to raise my hand in a Sunday School class and say:
“Please pray for me.  I’m going through a very bad flare of my OCD, and I’m experiencing a great deal of mental pain every waking minute of every day.”
And what if, when I did that, I wouldn’t need to fear the experience any of the above responses that I’ve just shared because people would automatically know that my affliction was valid just like they understand cancer to be valid?
I feel very strongly that this kind of change would lead to people getting the help they need.  It would free them from guilt and shame and allow them to talk openly about their affliction and in doing so, they would quickly discover they aren’t alone; that there are many other Christians who can relate to what they go through.  The freedom to share without fear of stigma will open the doors of hope and allow for productive communication which can guide people toward getting the professional help they need without having to feel that it’s wrong to do so.
I realize that I’ve written about this matter before and that people might wish I’d stop being so redundant, but this is a problem that hasn’t gone away.  As long as these hurtful responses continue to happen to my brothers and sisters in Christ who are afflicted with mental illness, I’m going to keep on talking about it and hoping and praying for change.

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7 thoughts on “What IF?

  1. paulfg June 24, 2018 / 4:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Church Set Free and commented:
    Have you ever thought this …

    “What if The Church of Jesus Christ was a leader in showing the world how to support those who are suffering from mental illness in the exact same way they lead the world in how to support those who are suffering from any other form of trial, tribulation or persecution? What if I could feel at ease to raise my hand in a Sunday School class and say:
    “Please pray for me. I’m going through a very bad flare of my OCD, and I’m experiencing a great deal of mental pain every waking minute of every day.””

    Why not pop over to ocdmitzi’s place and share your thiughts?

    Thanks –

    Paul

    (Comments closed here)

    Like

  2. Glenda Mazerolle June 24, 2018 / 8:24 pm

    Hi,

    I just wanted to write you and thank you so much. God has used your book to help me immensely with my OCD. I was ruminating for years over the assurance of salvation. I needed absolute certainty that I was saved, and I’d read the same verses over and over again to try and stop the rumination. This never helped.
    Through the help of a Christian counsellor, medication and finding your book, I have finally found Hope. I may never feel absolutely certain, and that’s okay because I commit the eternal safe keeping of my soul to God, Who will do right.

    So thank you so much! Your book helped me to know that there are other Christians who struggle with OCD, that there is hope and a future. Your sorrow and pain have helped another in Christ.

    A thankful reader😊
    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

  3. Sarah July 14, 2018 / 12:58 am

    Mitzi, you are a Godsend. I have struggled for years with scrupulously and religious OCD, and have been through the gamut of various friends telling me it’s primarily a spiritual issue. I’m so very thankful for you and your encouragement, and was even crying reading your book out loud to my mom today to help her understand what it’s like to have OCD. The Lord has used you already so powerfully in my life to help me start to turn the scary monster of my OCD into that silly “ghost” who is harmless, and I feel some real hope in my heart. THANK YOU!

    Like

    • ocdmitzi77 July 27, 2018 / 2:57 pm

      Thank you for expressing how the book has encouraged and helped you. My hope was that God would use my experience to help others, so I’m humbled whenever I get to hear of evidence that He’s answered that prayer. Now, some day you in turn will be able to encourage someone else who is going through this…and that will make it worth it all. These disorders teach us so much about compassion and empathy for others. Praying that you will continue to progress in your management of your OCD. God Bless!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hopeless July 22, 2018 / 5:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and I hope to order your book. I can’t express how much I relate to what you’ve gone through as I’ve been dealing with similar issues for close to 40 years. Although there have been a few periods of relief, almost every minute of my life has been completely occupied with overwhelming fear of going to hell and trying to figure out how to deal with it right now. After many years as a young person completely oblivious to OCD/scrupe I did find out about the disease and try counselors, psychiatrists, etc. But all pretty much to no avail. I can’t express the misery and I truly wish I had never been born. My current problem is that I seem to doubt the “authority” of Jesus Christ (i.e. can he alone really save me, I’m not sure I really trust him and believe, etc). I can’t seem to put my trust in him so I truly don’t know if I’m saved/believe and I don’t know what to do about it. Yes, I have scrupulosity. But my mind tells me that doesn’t matter. It’s beside the point. People in other religions have scrupe but it doesn’t by default mean they’re somehow saved or avoid the responsibility to believe the right thing. I just don’t know what to do. My mind tells me that if I may not be saved the only sane thing is to deal with it immediately……that doing anything else (work, TV, reading an article, talking to someone) is taking a chance that I might go to hell. I think I need to do nothing but read, study, pray……and the fact that sometimes when I read it does seem to help my faith only increases the validity that I must do it right now. I’ll try to go to work tomorrow, I’ll sit at the computer for 8 hours and hope I get an hour of work done. I’ll read a line of an email and think – I need to be saved, I need to address it now, I need to leave here. I’ll relentlessly argue back and forth in my mind between “I have to address being saved and to work one more minute is rejecting an eternal decision” and “I need to do my job and I want to keep a normal life”. I’m really glad you’ve found your peace…….I wish I could and I appreciate prayers.

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    • ocdmitzi77 July 27, 2018 / 2:53 pm

      I’m sorry to hear of the pain you are in, but clearly the OCD hasn’t been addressed properly due to the excessive engaging in compulsions that you describe. I completely understand that you feel horribly compelled to do these things, but treatment means learning how to resist those things. ERP or ACT therapy combined with meds. and typically some practical lifestyle modifications is the way to go. You’ll never find that perfect reassurance that will lay it all to rest. OCD is insatiable no matter what the theme is.
      I do hope you will read my book as I think it might help to encourage you and give you the courage to tackle the beast of your OCD through ERP and/or ACT therapy. Praying for you!!!

      Like

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