Always The Fight Ministries – Compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, and abuse. (c)2019 Nancy Virden
There is a significant difference between those who slam Christian mental health advocacy, and those that do not. From my observation only, people who have been most vocal (and usually disproportionately defensive) against professional treatment including medications, are one of two kinds. Either they have never experienced a mental health issue that caused serious dysfunction, or they think they have and believe their “cure” is one-size-fits-all.
One gentleman told me that his brother had once been suicidal. He prayed for an evil spirit to leave him, and afterward his brother was immediately well. Years later, this man is reporting that his brother has been fine ever since.
I believe in prayer. It is my sincere belief that I am alive because of it. If you read my blogs regularly, you know I have no doubt Jesus could have healed that man. As much as we may hurt, our battles are sometimes very spiritual in nature.
It also would not surprise me if another explanation was in play. If you have ever been suicidal, you too may see it. Let’s break that down.
The reason “tell your doctor about all your feelings” is a television commercial, is because people often need encouragement to share depressed and suicidal feelings directly. Stigma, shame, an expectation of rejection, a sense of unworthiness and more, may each play a part in helping to keep desperate persons silent. Lack of awareness and understanding of one’s own feelings may also be a hindrance.
When such a person does mention or hint at the depth of their pain, it is that proverbial cry for help. Imagine then, being the brother who is met with an unquestioning, “You have a spiritual problem.” It is a matter of interpretation, of course. Having never met the brother and barely having met the gentleman sharing the story, I stand in no position to assume any of their thoughts.
Nonetheless, having walked a particular road, we are familiar with its twists and turn. Since reactions like this man to his brother tend to heap more guilt and shame and sense of failure to the already burdened mind, I suspect his brother may not confide in him any longer about suicidal thoughts.
Complexities of the human brain, spirit, body and soul, is so far our of our reach to understand, many times we merely guess based on few partially-understood facts. One fact is indisputable. Learning to think clearly, developing common sense, transforming a mind, challenging thinking patterns, and uncovering false negative core beliefs are not one-time prayer issues.
Scripture implores us to seek wisdom, not fall in to it. The Psalmist prays, “Teach me your way, Lord,” not “Upload all I need to know instantly.” Jesus taught that we grow through suffering. No pill, and no single prayer, is going to usher a person with irrational suicidal thoughts into a lifetime of healthy thinking, bringing all their struggles to a permanent halt.
I want to reach more people who are questioning the value of another breath. Striving to keep it real, my hope is to never again fall into the trap of easy answers.
Today’s Helpful Words
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!