Tag: Christianity and Mental Health

Book of Job

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Job’s so called friends pointing fingers at him for being the source of his own suffering. What a bunch of jerks.

Like any other Christian living with mental health disorder, it’s annoying to hear especially from loved ones to “pray more”. Or hearing them say things like, “The reason why you have mental illness is because your spirit isn’t strong enough” which is absolute bull, because I know my spirit is. It’s annoying how fellow Christians will try to explain my mental illness and how it came about and my inability to be strong in faith… I need support, not a lecture! Oi! But you know something…I remember someone in the Bible who went through the same persecution on why he lost everything including his health: Job.

The Book of Job is a well-known riches to rags to riches story on how Job, a faithful believer God, was unknowingly (which is hard to believe how this story was known) used by God to prove to the devil how faithful Job was even without his riches, health and his family. Quite sad how he was used for such a thing, but nonetheless it happened to him. And just when he thought his life was worse already, his friends come about trying to explain why his life well…sucks. These friends included Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zphar the Naamathite, and Elihu the Buzite..

At first, these four friends sat with Job in silence for seven days (Job 2:11-13). These guys did the right thing here at first. You don’t always have to have an answer right away when a loved one is dealing with an ailment or financial hardship.  I get it…it’s in our nature as human beings to want to have the answer for everything. But you know what… silence is golden and well, just being there for your loved one as you will find out will mean more to your friend or family member more than anything. They will understand that you don’t understand why they are struggling, because they don’t know why either. But nooooo….Job’s friends had to ruin that moment with him by opening their big mouths. This is just a paraphrase on what these guys said:

Eliphaz

He said that Job is suffering because he has sinned and that the best way to overcome it is by going to God and lay his cause before him. (Job 4, 5,15, 22).

Bildad

This guy said that Job is suffering because he hasn’t admitted he has sinned and asked him how long was he going to go on like that? (Job 8, 18, 25)

Zophar

He had the nerve to say that Job’s sin deserves even more suffering than he has experienced and the only way he could get better is by getting rid of his sins. (Job 8, 11:13, 14 ,18)

Elihu

He said that God is using suffering to mold and train Job. Perfect! But then he had to ruin it by saying to Job for him to be silent because he, Elihu, will teach him wisdom. (Job 32-37)

Ugh! The nerve of some people. How shallow people can be when judging why some people go through struggles and why some people don’t.

Another thing is that the five friends had their own view of God:

Eliphaz

“I have personally observed how God works and have figured him out.” (Job 4:7-8, 5:3, 27)

Bildad

“Those who have Gone before us figured out and all we have to do is use that knowledge.” (Job 8:8, 9, 18:5-21)

Zophar

“The wise know what God is like, but there aren’t many of us around.” (Job 11:6, 20:1-29)

Job

“God reveals his wisdom to those who humbly trust him.” (Job 28:20-28)

Sometimes peoples own views on God can get in the way of showing love, understanding and patience toward one another and even non-believers. And at times hinder good relationships between others and themselves. Job, like any other Christian judged by other fellow Christians, he kinda does doubt his faith in God, but then remembers his faith and tells them take back their false accusations (Job 6:29).

To Eliphaz, Job says these three points:

  1. You are giving me all this advice without sympathizing with my situation
  2. Your criticisms are not based on fact but only on your own experience
  3. You still have not answered by basic question: Why am I suffering like this?

To Zophar, Job says to him in the most sarcastic way:

“Wisdom will die with you!” (Job 12:1)

Yeah…I don’t think Job was joking though.

But to all his friends, he basically told them this:

  1. Don’t talk for the sake of talking
  2. Don’t sermonize by giving pat answers
  3. Don’t accuse or criticize
  4. Put yourself in the other person’s place
  5. Offer help and encouragement

So, like in number 5, a person who is sick and/or sad says to you, “I just need a hug.” You find it like, “What? That’s it?” Just offer it to them. Yes, some solutions can be that simple. I get it you want a quick fix for your loved one’s problems. You don’t want them to suffer. Well, they don’t either. But as for now, just respect their wishes. If you care about the person as much as you say you do be in their shoes, not in your head.

As read in the Book of Job, Job does question his faith. But then remembers, wait… I don’t hide my sins (Job 23:10… I don’t worship my material items (Job 3:23-26) nor relied on them for security more than God (Job 8:14, 15) I haven’t committed adultery (Job 31:9) I don’t claim myself to be  perfect , but I am a good and faithful person (Job 9:4) He then goes on say something on the line to his friends, “you are like physicians who did not know what they were doing.”(Job 13:4)

Like Job, especially when living with mental illness, you won’t be respected for even suffering bravely. I mean, people don’t have any idea what it’s like living with mental illness day to day and you still have to work, drive to work, go to school, to still have to put food on the table…socialize… It’s tough. Yet you have people who have never been through your situation give you advice. And even worse, claim how weak you are. Huh…how odd how people who have never been such problems all of a sudden have the answers. What we have to remember as human beings, that no matter how old you are, how young you are, how affluent you are, the color of your skin, our physical abilities, even mental abilities and attributes are short lived and regardless, God continues to love you still. God

The book of Job reminds us that having a set of the “right” doctrines is not enough when worshiping God and we must not misquote God on his love for us and others and why we undergo the sufferings we face on Earth. It’s not our place to say, because although, you may not be happy to hear this, but there are some things that are beyond your understanding. Just because God loves you, doesn’t mean you won’t go through trials, even if the trial is your own health. I believe that having (also acknowledging) my chronic anxiety and depression has helped me be more patient with myself and others and helped me more reliant on God. Heck maybe my story can be used to encourage others. Like Job, I have gone through self-pity, bitterness, and anguish…I have also been guilty of blaming God. I have come accept that perhaps my illness is bigger than myself. It’s a way of trusting God during the difficult times, while testing my limits and exercising my faith. As I conclude this post keep in mind these parts of the scripture:

“My breathen, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience have its perfect work, that you may perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 1:2-4

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 1:6

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:5

“You are My servant, I have chose you and not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Behold, all those who were incensed against you, shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing.”

Isaiah 41:20

And for those judging those or loved ones who live with mental health disorders and possibly on why they have it, keep this scripture in mind:

 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not proved, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:7-8

Celebrate Recovery!

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For the past 2 months I have attended a “Celebrate Recovery” in my church. At first I was a bit skeptical, because I have been to one in a previous church and it didn’t seem to help me much. I felt, I was talking for the sake of talking (and I also saw some from my past I wasn’t too keen on rehashing my past to). Even though there was a group for men and women and within those two groups a subgroup based on those recovering from chemically dependent (on drugs and/or alcohol), physical/emotional and sexual abuse, sexual addiction, eating disorder, problem relationships, recovery from anger, and financial recovery. But I felt, personally like…I wasn’t getting anything enriching from it. I felt like it was more focused on staying as long as you can to earn the “Celebrate Recovery” chips (like you would earn at an A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) or N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting. It wasn’t goal I felt worth earning if it was only for a chip, especially since I didn’t have an alcohol or drug program. So, I left that “Celebrate Recovery” program and that was like what….4 or 5 years ago??? However, lately I found (it took me forever to admit it but I had a major anger problem.

Two reasons why I went:

  1. When I lived at my ex’s house, his sister recommended me to attend a “Celebrate Recovery” at our church. I was skeptical at first of attending, because the first time I attended a “Celebrate Recovery”, it didn’t help me very much.
  2. My ex telling me I had anger issues. This was during time he had broken up with me. Although, there were things he said to me that were contrary to my character, that had to be the one I agreed with. Even much after we broke up, he revealed to me he knew I had a lot of pent up anger and it could have been the reason why my anxiety and depression was so bad. It was true, but I never knew—not that I didn’t want to— how or to whom to relay my hurt to. So, yeah…I’d tend to erupt like a volcano when I got really But don’t get me wrong…I didn’t do it prove him wrong about me or in hopes we’ll get back together. I did it because well…I was tired of being angry all the time and I was tired of my anger getting in the way of the people I loved and mostly importantly, loving myself.

When I first entered the program at my church, I didn’t feel like I fit in… Most of the people who attended I have done drugs and/or drank alcohol, were in a gang…and me…well I didn’t. Some of the people came transitional homes…some of them were court ordered…some of them came from different churches… How was this place going to do it for me? However, once the program started with praise I felt a stir in me telling me I should give this place, this program a chance.

In “Celebrate Recovery” it first starts a large group and then later with small groups in respective to their gender. The large groups starts with the choir singing, then testimony, an offering and lastly, a topic for the evening. The music was great filled with heart and soul to give attendees something to look forward to in the next hour.  Next, there would be a praise report from one of the attendees of how God and “Celebrate Recovery” has helped them to change their lives. The stories these people would tell! You’d never think some of them would have shot up heroin, you’d never think were on Skid Row….I mean all these people regardless of the mess they lived in or brought to themselves all had one thing in common: they were dealing with a hurt, habit and/or hang-ups and were willing to make changes in their lives. Most got married, started a family, started their own business. It brought joy to my heart that hear no matter how a person has lived their life, no matter what pain they have an endured, you can always turn your life around.

What I liked about the program is that it’s a spiritual one, two, my feelings and experiences are NOT discounted and three, it asks a lot of hard questions. Not like they are hard per se, just that it unlocks a lot of old feelings. For me, spirituality keeps me strong. Without it…well, just makes my life harder and more overwhelming. My therapist— before the current two I had—would seem to try to split my spiritual side from my mental side. I did not appreciate that, but I had continued to see him with my discretion (he did help me out with the CBT though).

Growing up in a domestic abusive household, was tough for my younger self, but it  was also tough to find people to confide with. The classmates who were my playmates, would often scoff at my stories telling me my life wasn’t so bad, because my family looked “perfect” and I lived in a nicer area. Oh, wait for the best part… “that there are other people who had worse lives than [mine]”. Classic… classic ignorance! I’ve often felt alone, because I could never have my experiences and feelings counted for, I felt that I, myself could not be counted too. Being at the “Celebrate Recovery” meetings, is “training” me to be connected to people and to be in connected to myself.  No story is worse than the other, no person is to be without their story being told. Every person’s story (e.g. hurt)  has a right to be told for it is in doing so, the healing begins. And definitely, the healing has begun for me.

The questions…oh those pesky questions… Just as I thought, I was done healing…apparently I wasn’t. The questions come in the from the “Celebrate Recovery” program’s participant guide booklets. These include:

  • Guide 1: Stepping Out of Denial
  • Guide 2: Taking An Honest and Spiritual Inventory
  • Guide 3: Getting Right with God
  • Guide 4: Growing in Christ

These books helps participants such as myself to face our hurts, habits and/or hang-ups and achieve the restoration and reinforcement of the relationship we have with God, with others and ourselves.

For example, in guide 1, these questions include:

  1. What do you fear turning over to His care?
  2. What is keeping you from turning over?
  3. What does the phrase “live one day at a time” mean to you?
  4. What is a major concern in your life?
  5. What’s stopping you from turning it over to your Higher Power, Jesus Christ?

Such questions gave me more to answer in order to unlock more fears as well as dreams, because just when you think you have unlocked the doors of your heart, you find out there are doors within these doors. Pain underneath other pains. And let me tell you, I’ve never cried so much like that anywhere in front of anyone. I don’t usually like showing people my sadness.

So far it has been like a month since I’ve attended and I’ve been feeling great. I still have anxiety and depression, but I feel it’s not as bad as it used to. Facing my pains along with the teachings of Christ, has been so helpful. It’s only because and of my faith haven’t completely fallen on my face with all that has gone on in my life.  On the 1st step of the 12 steps it says:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our additions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.

“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

Romans 7:18

        Upon reading this step, I felt a great sense of relief, because it shows that we may not have strength to control whatever our vices may be. For me, I can’t control my anxiety and depression and as Christians, we know that anxiety and even depression is not of God. Yet as long as we live on this Earth, our bodies and minds will experience such things. I have tried so hard to control it on my own and well…it hasn’t helped much, but give me more anxiety and anguish over my inequities. My anxiety and depression has impacted my life in various ways and I do my best to not let it best my life. I’ve often heard in my life such quotes as “God helps those who help themselves” or “We have the power to overcome our sins”. The thing is (well, at least for me), I’ve tried on my own to fight anxiety and depression, but I can’t apparently and I know I have what it takes to not let anxiety and depression overcome me, but I don’t know how to and I know I definitely can’t do it on my own. That’s where this leads to the sixth step of the “Twelve Steps”:

  1. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

(James 4:10)

Having to pray to God to help me overcome my anxiety and depression has helped a lot, especially knowing that I’m only human and that there is so much that can be in my control, even my own mental health. However, what matters is that I’ve acknowledged Christ as my savior and my willingness to turn my inequities over to him and change for the better. It’s as Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 (NLT),

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

And doing so has helped me out a lot especially through the worse days of depression. I feel more at ease with it, so I’m not finding myself beating myself up over living with anxiety and depression. I accept it and just move through it even if it’s just baby steps. It’s just like it says in Psalm 34:17-18:

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is closes to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

So, yeah God and Jesus Christ isn’t going to stop loving you, just because you are facing depression and/or anxiety or any other earthly infliction, even if it’s guilt. He knew what you were going to go through even before you experienced any of the problems you’re currently facing.  In fact, they’ll run over to because you face such problems and have called for their help.

Best of all, the program has other followers of Christ and not judging one another problems or telling each other to just “pray more”. We do pray, but it’s done with lack of judgement and a lot of heart. Here are two other steps that pertain to this:

  1. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

“Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

James 5:6

  1. Having had a spiritual experience as the result for these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves or you also may be tempted.”

Galatians 6:1

There are people who have done meth, lived on Skid Row, and/or been in gangs and not once has any of them said, “My life is worse than yours” or “There are other people who have it worse than you.” Ugh! I have no idea why people think those are wise things to say, but anywho, nobody is judging anybody.  We are just bodies of Christ coming together to overcome our pains and even help our fellow attendees overcome theirs.

This program, Celebrate Recovery, founded by John Baker of Saddleback church in 1993, is in 20,000 churches nationwide and in more 156 countries. So in other words, it’s bound to be in your neck of the woods. You don’t have to be a member of the local church that sponsors this program. You just come as you are, regardless of who you are or what you have done and be willing to overcome your hurt, habit or hang-ups.

If you would like further information on Celebrate Recovery, click on the links below:

“Program helps heal “hurts, hang-ups and habits”

If you would like readings on how God and Jesus helps you to overcome the troubles in your life, click on the pages below:

“God Never Said It Would Be Easy”

“Troubles In Life”

“Why Won’t God Take My Problem Away?”

Oooh! Also, I have the “The Road to Recovery” and “Twelve Steps” charts on my page, so be sure to check them out!