Worshiping with Joel at age 11 was an interesting experience. It was not unlike sitting on the edge of your seat during an action movie, when you're not quite sure what's going to happen next—you only know something is going to happen. Then one day, during communion, a radiant look of understanding came upon Joel's face.
I’d never wish the darkness of mental illness on anyone, but if it wasn’t for anorexia, bulimia, anxiety and depression, I don’t know if I would be a Christian today. There seems to be a pattern common to many Christ-followers who also live with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. Here’s how I now characterize the five stages in my relationship with Christ, and the spiritual growth He worked through each stage to the next.
I often say that my son Joel, who has autism, has been the greatest spiritual teacher of my life. The lessons haven’t always been easy, and sometimes they’re not clear until later. But year after year after year, Holy Spirit knowledge pours forth from this young man and blesses all whose eyes and ears are open and receptive. And that includes his church.
Guest blogger Jeremy Smith of Church and Mental Health reflects back on a powerful spiritual exercise and how similar approaches can be helpful for his counseling clients who want to incorporate faith into their counseling sessions.
In order to communicate with care and compassion, ministry leaders need to understand the five phases of special-needs parenting. In the video below, I give an overview of the phases, share what families need from their church in each phase, and give communication tips that are effective no matter what phase parents are in.