Reading the Bible as a Mentally Ill Person

I remember when I was given a “proper” Bible. I was about thirteen and the Gideons had come round to my school, handing out pocket New Testaments in the NIV translation. I don’t think I really read it at that time, aside from when we were covering Mark’s Gospel in RE class, but I have always remembered a quote they had in the front. I don’t know who originally wrote it, but it certainly has a power to it. I’ll print it in full:

“THE BIBLE contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.
It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.
CHRIST is its grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end.
It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgement, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.”

As a fairly orthodox Christian I do hold the Bible in high esteem. I have found in it words of great comfort, beauty and peace. However I have also seen a negative side. Sometimes I think that “low church” or Reformed believers place too much stress on sola scriptura to the detriment of life in the Spirit now, whereas the charismatic contingent place too much stress on personal revelation and not enough on the historic and continually affirmed revelation of the Bible. I tend to think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, although I will admit to leaning to the Reformed/evangelical/low side of things, as a result of my background. In particular I have noticed some Christians – of the very conservative or fundamentalist persuasions – seem to me to view the Bible too highly. Now that sounds, even to my ears, a little shocking, but what I mean is that they take it so literally, and brook no opposition, so that they are led to reject all others with an alternative point of view. Not that I am saying that a more liberal believer will accept all, there are intolerant people of every stripe, but I have more experience with the fundamentalist type.

I think that for some people the Bible becomes a constraint, not on right-belief (orthodoxy) but on right-action (orthopraxy). By that I mean that we may have the most “correct” beliefs about Christ in the world, we may study the Bible intently and understand it well, but if we do not translate that into action we are failing. Jesus said: “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” (Mat 7:26) What I am thinking of particularly is when we, or I, read about God’s hatred for injustice, about how we should aid the poor and help the widow, and do very little about that. For example I think that we as Christians should do something about the injustice being meted out to the poor (the sick, the disabled and the unemployed) and the coming injustice toward the old. The trouble is that I have little idea of what to do beyond raising awareness and signing various petitions. I give,but not enough, not enough to make a difference, and that is something I am very aware of.

My other concern, in putting faith into practise, is how we understand situations which are not directly addressed by the Bible. I have read so many books where the words of the Bible are bent and twisted to make them apply to some modern situation and frankly, sometimes they just don’t. We cannot always find specific guidance – general principles yes, but not always something specific. The Bible does not cover every eventuality – it would be far longer if it did. In my own situation for example, the Bible does not speak a great deal about mental ill-health and where it does, it is not particularly positive. I have mentioned before about the harm I believe comes when certain groups say that healing from mental illness has to happen, that the only outcome is sin/illness or faith/healing. The Bible does mention people being healed but we are never all of us promised healing. So when I look into the Bible sometimes it makes me quite sad when I see the tales of people being healed of this, that and the other, of the people whose healings from demons seem to be describing instead healing from mental illness, and that that has not happened to me. I think that is another problem for people with mental illness in that there are things – like the Gerasene demoniac, where he seems to be suffering some mental illness, but both Jesus and the biblical author describe this as demon possession. I don’t understand that and I don’t know where I stand on the demon thing. I have met many people with illnesses and I have yet to meet anyone where I could say “they have a demon” rather than “they aren’t very well and need medication/therapy”. That makes those passages hard for me to read – and I can imagine that the demon stories are hard for other people with mental problems to read. The Bible is a wonderful book but it does not specifically speak to my situation.

There are of course wonderful statements that more generally speak to my mental health. Like Jesus offering rest, being our Comforter, the gospel itself, and the wonderful range of human emotion in the Psalms. It is easy for a person not like myself to say that the Bible speaks to every eventuality, every problem in human life, but I have not found it does.

Of course, there are many many different views among Christians about the Bible, ranging from the liberal to the conservative. I do not think that God dictated the Bible, it is inspired but I do not hold a “high” view there. It is sufficient for salvation, as I think it says in 1 Tim 3:16 but I do not think it holds the answer to everything. Nor do I think it claims to. I also think that not everything in the Bible is applicable to today – in the same way that Christians are now free to eat any animal I also think that we are free to ordain women in the church. I also cannot believe that love between two consenting adults can be condemned because of their gender. I would say that Paul – and the other authors – wrote of their time, that God speaks to us gradually rather than imposing a totally different viewpoint on us, and that God also speaks through the church – through Christians throughout the ages.

This helps me when I read some of the things in the Old Testament, particularly the massacres, the killing of infants, and the treatment of women who were raped, among other things. I understand them – when placed in the context of their time they were not seen as wrong. I was taught in history not to judge the people of the past on the morality of today – but claiming that the Bible is a book out of time does just that. I don’t think we should try to read the Bible shorn of the prejudices of the time and the authors. God works with humans – he only once put things down himself. So I tend to think that the words of Christ are in a different category to the rest of the Bible. This may mark me out as unacceptable to more conservative Christians, but it is the way I can understand God.

This is a bit of a ramble, but I do love the Bible, I get a huge amount out of it and I find it wonderful whether I am well or I am ill. But I have to acknowledge that there are difficulties in it, in some of the morality of the OT in particular, and in some of the church organisation of the New. But the message itself, that of being rescued from evil, from our own evil, and brought into the light of Christ by virtue of his sacrifice for us, is wonderful. In many ways I am indeed orthodox, but I do not subscribe to the almost deified view of the Bible that some people have. I was taught to take a more critical look at scripture – an excellent book I would recommend on that, by the way, is Phyllis Trible’s “Texts of Terror” – and I can see the problems that atheists have with it. We do them no favours by pretending there isn’t a difficulty with some of the smiting stuff in the OT, I think we should engage with problematic texts and discuss them.

I have heard people describe the Bible as Jesus in paper. I am not really keen on that! The Bible is the record of God’s dealings with man – it doesn’t quite follow that God approves of everything man did in his name.

To try to get back on track – as a mentally ill person, the Bible can be great. But it also doesn’t speak directly of my situation, and it can and has been used to attack me. Sometimes I think we should follow Paul and say that we follow the “spirit not the letter” of the Bible, that certainly seems to be a workable solution to me. And of course, most of all, Bible or no Bible we need to talk to God, if we just read and follow the Bible we may be good people but we have no connection to the Almighty, and that shows we have missed the point.

So, read the Bible, love it and cherish it, but don’t prioritise it over God, God who is merciful and compassionate and loves you to bits. Don’t let anyone – including yourself – condemn you for your illness, your anguish, your suffering. And remember that Jesus has been there, been there with all of us and in all situations:

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isa 53:4-5)

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Comments

  1. Hi Emma, to respond to all your points now would mean my comment will be as long as your Post but I will share about some of the things you said.

    I view the Scriptures with the same understanding that God has of them, they are inspired meaning they are His Truth that He put into the hearts of those who wrote them and there are things in the Bible that only God could have known when they were written. His guidelines are not just for the past but for now, as they themselves confirm and I never water them down to fit into a worldly fleshy agenda regardless of who claims they are not applicable to their situation, they cover everything that man can experience in life.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    You said yourself Emma…. And remember that Jesus has been there, with all of us and in all situations: How do you know that the Scriptures that confirm this Truth were not just referring to those who were His followers then?

    I do realise Emma that your only sharing as you think and how you understand what is written in the Scriptures or what you have heard from others but to understand God’s Truth we need His wisdom, I will leave you a link, remember the Truth will set us free as long as we take it to heart.

    Blog Post – http://alifeofhopeandjoy.wordpress.com/category/woman-of-kingdom-wisdom/

    You may also find the KJV of 2 Timothy 1:7 which is the closest to the original Greek, a comfort in your illness. I first heard this Scripture from a friend who was suffering P.N.D after having a Baby and being a Christian she claimed it as True for her and much to the surprise of the Doctors she fully recovered overnight and they sent her home soon after.

    2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of Power, and of Love, and of a Sound mind.

    Christian Love from us both Anne.

    • Hi Anne, lovely to hear from you!
      I understand that not everyone shares my view of Scripture, and I’m really pleased that you feel able to share your disagreement in such a nice way.
      I’m a bit wary of saying that I – or anyone – views Scripture the way God sees it, just because I’m aware of all the disagreements over the meaning of Scripture over the years. I’m sure you’re aware of the change in understanding of the Bible over issues like slavery and racism. At one time people would have said that this was an age-old true interpretation of the Bible, that it supported slavery and people used the Bible to condone racism as well. With the changing of attitudes we now look at Scripture and say, of course God does not want us to hold slaves or to be racist, because this is not just, and God is all for justice.
      Certainly when it comes to the OT I think we can see a change – Jesus says things like “Moses told you…but I say to you…” – the Torah was not applicable in the same way in the New Testament as it was in the Old. I tend to see our interpretations of the NT as being anchored in our time – hence why perfectly respectable people and good Christians could support slavery, whereas we would not do so now. So I suppose I am reluctant to say ‘this and only this is the correct interpretation of this verse’ because things do change.
      Another example being that few women now wear veils in church, few women have a problem with gold jewellery and so on. These are things that the majority now do not take literally, but look at the intention behind the verse – being modest, for example. The fact that braiding your hair was immodest in Paul’s time is no longer seen as a reason why we should not braid our hair in ours.
      With the 2 Timothy verse, I have always noted that it says it is profitable in all sorts of ways – which is something I do agree with – but the Bible does not say it contains everything about God, and it does not say everything has the same meaning now as it did back then. Another example would be church organisation today is rather different to the gleanings we can get from the Bible of the early church organisation. That just changed as the church got bigger, more organised, and more acceptable to wider society.
      On 2 Tim 1:7 – I need to look more into that verse. I can happily say now that I do have a sound mind and am not fearful – but I feel for those who are currently unwell. I worry that someone who is unwell would read that verse and say that they are apart from God, that somehow God does not approve of them. I think a “spirit of fear” is something different to having fears, but I need to think more into that.
      Thanks very much for your comment!
      God bless,
      Emma

      • Hi Emma, you have been on my mind and in my heart since yesterday so I prayed and felt led to come back and share with you.

        I know you probably think I don’t understand the stigma of Mental Illness but I do, it can even be shown by Doctors and nurses in this field, how do I know, I suffered from Bulimia and deep depression for many years after having aborted my Baby as a teenager and loosing my other Babies later, my link is below if you would like to read about it.

        Blog Link – http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/mommy-please-love-me/

        Because I wasn’t responding to treatment they diagnosed wrongly that I had Bipolar but it was Hashy Mottoes disease, not sure if that is the right spelling, which has simular symptoms but is a Thyroid disorder, they have done a lot of research in the last 4 years and quiet a few have had this condition and not Mental illness, unfortunately, the drugs they gave me caused this condition to increase, but they just gave me more medication and kept changing it, which made it worse.

        Although I still have the Thyroid disorder it is controlled and all other Symptoms disappeared many many years ago even though I was still on the wrong drugs at the time. I have no guilt now even if there is sadness for Aborting my Baby, Jesus took it away when I came to heart repentance as I no longer have this shame, He carried it on the cross.

        But during those years being in and out of Hospitals, I too was the victim of those who think Mental illness means God does not Love you and that your deficient and less then them. Yes there are problems, such as confusion and fear and depression but when controlled by medicine which is God given if not abused, there is no real lack, besides everyone is cracked in some way but God uses all of us vessels when we Love Him and are obedient, for His good work, He is the Super Glue, He always compensates.

        Christian Love from both of us – Anne

      • Hi Anne,
        Thanks for your comment. I had a feeling you and I were on the same page re mental illness, and the sad way some Christians understand it. It is a pity that there is so much stigma in and out of church around issues of mental health, and there is needless suffering by people who are ill because of it.
        Still, I have hope that in the future churches may encourage conversation about mental health, and thus start to break down ideas about mental illness being about personal sin rather than the product of a sin-broken world.
        Thanks again,
        Emma

    • Hi Emma, I do not use most modern Translations of the Scriptures, I have found error in them as they are mainly derived from the same Translation of the Scriptures, the K.J.V is the closest to the original Greek text, but you can use ant God will show you when there is error, I also use the Sword which is a good free download but like all man made tools it also has error.

      To be disciplined according to God’s guidelines not man’s, you need a sound mind, Mental Illness causes confusion and this is what my friend Mary experienced, she claimed this verse 2 Timothy 1:7 as Truth for her and was healed completely, that was over 21 years ago and she has never suffered from Mental illness again, if you want her address I will ask her permission and you can hear her testimony for yourself.

      But I agree God Loves all of His heart Children and delivers us and restores us when we suffer, giving us His strength to endure and He also uses medicine, natural remedies or intervenes and heals us Miraculously, God is the only Healer not man, although He uses them to achieve His purposes both the good and bad vessels.

      As for understanding the Scriptures you need to read very carefully 1Corinthians2, do you think if we have the mind of Christ and His wisdom we don’t understand God’s Truth in the Scriptures. He tells us if we ask for His wisdom He will give it to us but we must not doubt we have received it, Jesus as I said is our only Teacher and will lead us into all Truth.

      Colossians 2 :2 -3 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in Love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

      1John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is True, and we are in Him that is True, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God, and eternal life.

      John 15:14-15 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.(KJV)

      Matthew 10:26-28 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops (KJV)

      Psalm 32:8
      I will instruct you and teach you in the way you shall go.
      I will guide you with Mine eye.

      Fear in Hebrew when it is in reference to God’s Children means respect, we don’t have to have fleshy fear towards God, only those who reject Him need to fear what’s ahead for them, not His will their choice. Until we are perfected in Love we will have fleshy fear, due to our responses and it is not sin but we need to put our flesh to death by the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures help us to mature but not if you reject them and the guidance God gives us in them.

      1 John 4:17-19 Herein is our Love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in Love; but perfect Love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in Love. We Love Him, because He first Loved us.

      As for woman in Authority over men as Preaches including Elders etc, God’s word is very clear it is not their role, and Deborah God’s anointed Judge who spoke His Truth as He empowered her, shows this to be True she was under God’s Authority and her husbandm, she rebuked Barak for wanting her to be in Leadership with him, please read the full account of Deborah and you will see, she understood clearly it was not her role and even called herself Mother and this is always the submissive role.

      Christian Love – Anne

      • Hi Anne,
        I think with regard to how God views his children who have mental illnesses, we are on the same page! Obviously I affirm that mental illness is not in God plan, it is not what he wants for his children and it is a product of this sinful world. I just worry because some people take that truth and use it to say that those of us with mental health problems are more sinful, or less faithful, or just less worthy than those who currently enjoy mental health. But I think we agree with one another!
        On the Bible versions, I love the KJV and read it regularly, but I have many other versions too and the one I generally use on this site is the NIV. We use the NRSV in church, too. I think the best Bible version is the one you actually read and understand!
        With the women thing…good and sincere people can disagree in this. There isn’t one way of interpreting the Scriptures, again sincere and good people who love Christ can disagree about things. The only thing we have to worry about isn’t the “non-essentials” such as women in ministry, but whether we disagree on the essentials of faith, about sin, sanctification, the purpose of the cross and the love of Christ. I would add things like the Trinity to the essentials. Besides that, I think there is room for differing interpretations. I, personally, don’t have a problem with women in leadership, but I’m not going to argue it, because I used to do that – and then I felt God saying that I should avoid arguing, basically. That I should keep away from disputes about theology/biblical interpretation because I become less the person he wants me to be.
        So, if you don’t mind, I think we should end that here – though thank you for giving me your point of view.
        God bless,
        Emma

    • Emma, I don’t argue with fleshy man’s understanding but I do stand up for God’s Truth it sets us free and it all needs to be believed not just parts and when we are in Christ Jesus we are to be of one mind and have the same focus, as you can see very clearly in the Scripture below and there are others that confirm this Truth, if we are Born again of God’s seed and have the mind of Christ we will be in total Unity regarding God’s Truth.

      Philippians 2:2- 4 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

      Take care Emma – Christian Love from both of us.

  2. Hi Emma, thank you for your willingness to listen to correction this is not often seen today in a world were God’s Truth is rejected even by Christians but once again you have referred to quiet a few issues, if you would like me to, I will share with you what Jesus has showed me in regard to these, we remember He is our only Teacher but yes His Truth is also shared by others but sadly so are Satan’s lies, this is why we do indeed need the Scriptures as confirmation of God’s Truth and not fleshy worldly understanding, knowelage, logic and reasoning, but first we must seek God’s wisdom with all our hearts .This comment may be a bit long but I will respond to a few of the issues you mentioned.

    In response to 2 Tim 1:7 it is God’s Truth and we do not reject it, we do have a sound mind in Christ Jesus because He has a sound mind and the Scriptures tell us 1Corinthians2:16 we have His mind when we are Born again. But physical sickness, lack of sleep, poor nutrition leading to our immune systems breaking down and others things can cause imbalance in our bodies and lead to Mental illness, the same as with fear that you mentioned and also worry, wrong perseptions, guilt hatred and even grief. God can and does heal these problems at times when needed and so does repentance and physical healing through medication and surgery. Not a lot is known by man in regards to Mental illness and many have been wrongly dignosed but God knows exactly what the real problem is and will help if those who are afflicted if they seek Him and Trust Him to.

    Why do we have fear, because we don’t have assurance of our Salvation ( see below) not because God does not Love us unconditionally and how do we know that we are His heart Children, by the inner confirmation of The Holy Spirit as is confirmed in Scripture… perfect Love casts out fear ( see below) Scripture as you know also confirms God’s great Love for us.

    1 John 4:17-19 Herein is our Love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in Love; but perfect Love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in Love. We Love Him, because He first Loved us

    Emma I repeat we can not water down God’s guidelines to fit into today’s values and agenda God and His Truth are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow they do not change and nor do human beings needs, God knows us intermently and what is best for us and this has not changed.

    It is True Emma some of the things you mentioned have been misunderstood by man but it does not mean they are not important or are irrelevant today, such as woman are not to be Ordained, in other words teach with Authority over men, there is a very valid reason why they must not do this and it still applies today, it does not mean they can’t share God’s Truth in their gifting but it must be within the role they were created for which is as helpmates to men and this is a very high calling, it does not mean we are inferior to men or our role is less then their role of Leadership and when we rejoice in our God given role, both as men and woman, we will have deep inner Joy and completeness.

    I do have the confirmation of Scripture on everything I share Emma if you would like it and I’m willing to explain in detail anything you are still in doubt about.

    Christian Love Anne.

    • Hi Anne, good to hear from you.
      My concern with 2 Tim 1:7 was that it could be misapplied to say that those who are mentally ill cannot be Christian. However, I did a little research and it seems to be talking about discipline, right-thinking rather than people who are of “unsound mind” ie. who are depressed. Although this presents some problems for Christians experiencing psychosis…I found an interesting viewpoint: “God gives us a spirit that reveals right behavior, correct moral discernment and necessary chastisement. God shapes how we live and what we do, not just what we think. God’s gift is behavioral alignment and correction. A sound mind is seen in the hands and feet of obedience. “ I got that from http://skipmoen.com/tag/timothy-17/ (interesting site!)
      On fear – I think this bears some study. For instance, while we are not given a spirit of fear, there are many examples of people being afraid in the Bible where it is not seen as an awful thing. There is obviously a difference between that sort of spirit of fear and, for instance, the fear of God. Also if you look in Psalms David often describes being fearful. It is a part of human experience even if it is not the experience God wants for us, I am as above wary of someone using that scripture to make people, for instance with anxiety disorders, feel they are not “good enough”.
      I know you are probably in no way thinking along those lines but that is something I think about, just because I have seen so many well-meaning Christians hurt those with mental health problems by mis-application of Scripture.
      The trouble with describing my views as being a watering down of Scripture is that there are many things we now do and believe which were themselves described as watering down of scripture in their day. I do not think any of us (me included) can lay claim to God’s understanding of Scripture, but we all make our way and hopefully we agree on the essentials if not on the particulars!
      On women’s ordination – it is an area of disagreement. I firmly believe there is no problem with women’s ordination, however, I am aware that some people disagree. I do not think we will convince one another though. I have read the “opposing side’s” argument and while I can see where you’re coming from, I just don’t agree.
      I think we might have to agree to disagree on this one!
      God bless,
      Emma

  3. I’m not going to comment on literal understandings of scripture, there are many interpretations and to say one can see all of Scripture the way God sees it is not accurate in my opinion.

    Just about the mental illness thing, I found during a very deep depression that I gained comfort from the Bible, but not in any way I had before. Here is a little bit of it: http://ifnarky.com/2011/07/19/a-gift/, hope you don’t mind me forwarding you to my own blog. It was mainly about living with suffering now but looking to heaven, and the Bible taught me a lot of this.

    Sorry, I can’t form my thoughts correctly, because my memories of that time are vague. God does not always heal, some people suffer throughout their lives. We cling to God anyway, learn about his character and know his love through the illness. Bit of a paradox.

    • Thanks, Narky! Nice to have a comment from you! I too experienced God very differently when I was actively unwell, and in quite a different way to what I expected and imagined. I don’t like my illness, I would like to be healed, but I would not be a Christian without it, so I guess it has a silver lining!

  4. Hi Emma, thanks for sharing this insight, I had read the bible from genesis to revelation couple times, but then depression happen (I think it’s due to complex PTSD) and now I feel like it is a bit harder to read it – I even could get angry when reading Our Daily Bread from one particular writer, and I feel bad to have that kind of feeling.

    I think people without mental illness – or in my case it’s more like mental injuries, even though they can have similar symptoms, they just have different understanding. And with so many people in the world right now, it seems like church can have a blast of selecting the chosen ones, the ones without mental blemish, favorably rich.

    Some times I feel when bad thing happen to those with mental problem people easily say it’s because of sin committed and that’s punishment, whereas when bad thing happen to them the normal ones they call it a trial as if they never sin at all.

    Anyway, talking about self injuries, and try not to damage the body as the temple for God, why is it churchs don’t tell people that drinking soda with high fructose syrup, eat junk food often, eat unfermented soy, eat GMO foods, are kinda self injuring too? And few church even bully others, like it’s OK to injure other’s hearts & minds as long as they are not physically injuring themselves?

    Do you see mental problems as sickness or maybe you can agree with me that in some people their mental problems are actually their cross to bear?

    May God bless you that you rich in knowledge, patience, kindness, in Holy Spirit, and love.

    • Hi JKP, thank you very much for the comment.
      I agree that it is very easy for churches and individual Christians to condemn a person for self-harm but they rarely condemn people who eat bad food, or those who harm people with their words. I think it is a case of a mote and a plank in some cases.
      I tend to think of my own mental ill-health as being something God has allowed to happen to me for a purpose, I may hint at that purpose but I don’t know for certain and I won’t until I stand before God. So yes, sometimes our illnesses are our cross to bear – although they are also a sickness. But then a physical sickness can also be someone’s cross, something that is allowed for a reason we cannot guess at, but unfortunately have to wait for!
      God bless,
      Emma

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