I felt ashamed. There was so much to do last night, and there was no time to waste. I didn’t have time to run out of gas. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I keep going? Then the epiphany: there is nothing wrong with a car that runs out of gas. The problem is being out of gas.
No one wants to think of themselves or their family as dysfunctional. And the mental image associated with the term special needs most definitely does not fit. Special needs seems like a suit that was tailored for someone else. But there are no other health conditions for which there are such lengthy delays in diagnosis and treatment solely because of denial. Ditching the camouflage that covers your minimized mental illness might be the best wardrobe decision you ever make.
Whenever a group or congregation is talking about mental illness, there is a tendency to want to help the helpless. We are the powerful ones who can make a difference. As a result of my years of counseling, I saw myself as weak. But over the last year or so, the language I use about my ability has changed. I am no longer weak. I am resilient, remarkably resilient.
When I think about the scripture that exhorts Christ-followers to number our days correctly, I kind of get the meaning backwards. I think about things from a natural human perspective, when what I really need is God’s perspective. The verse isn’t so much about the volume of what I accomplish, but the quality and the purposefulness of what I do. It’s also what I let ministry do to change me. Without anyone reminding me, do I actually see the personal dignity of every person?
What do you think happens to a teenager when one of the main authority figures in his life lets him know in no uncertain terms, without words, that he doesn’t matter to your church environment? God offers us all incredible love and grace, but as His followers we have the responsibility to love others with both truth and grace, even when we don’t understand what we’re seeing.
When my cat died, chewy.com showed great care and concern for my loss, even beyond the principles of the Golden Rule. Chewy went all the way to the Platinum Rule. And the Platinum Rule is how churches can make mental health ministry happen and be successful.
Janet Parshall issued a powerful call to the church to minister more effectively to persons with mental illness in this keynote presentation from Inclusion Fusion Live 2019, a national disability ministry conference hosted by Key Ministry. She identifies key biblical figures who experienced symptoms of mental illness, challenges church leaders to end their stigmatization of persons with mental health issues and pastors to begin addressing the topic in the course of their preaching.