Being mentally ill is a hard and dangerous journey.
I do not have the time to relate all that I have been up to this past day – or rather, I have much time but need to be resting and continuing my Bible study. At this present time I am having my stolen dinner 😉 and my borrowed chariot ( https://open.spotify.com/track/2jwQd3JoZk4obcyI18lMY9?si=jE1ylixPR92idPBMyeJp3Q ).
The journey this past day has been full of light and blessing. I received some hard discipline from dear brothers at church yesterday, both in the morning and evening. I am unsure if they realised how hard ot was or how fruitful it may prove to be. Who can truly know but God Himself? As for me I remember my prayer at the beginning of this journey: “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Mental Illness and Fasting
Yet I suffer from a profound mental disorder. I began an Advent fast according in time to the Anglican calendar but according to strictness closer to a mix of Ethiopian Tewahedo and my own fleshly desires. According to the Eastern Orthodox teaching, the mentally ill are not only warned against the practice of fasting but are also usually precluded (forbidden) from doing so. During my period of Advent fast I spent much time in the psychiatric ward, and the resulting drunkeness on food, distressed souls I sought to help and the holiness of God within me caused great harm to those ill-equipped to cope. Yet my continuing hope, along with an intermittant faith and a love no-one really quite “gets” keeps me going. In short, I depend upon God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit and at times only brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends and allies are able to provide for my most basic and vital spiritual and bodily necessities.
The Struggle Within and the Struggle Without
What is your own struggle? Is it to maintain a faith amongst the righteous when you are a sinner? Is it to cope with a self-righteousness which only a brother can nail down rightly? Is it to cope with an indwelling sin or the sins which others have placed upon you? As the Apostle Paul says: “We have been crucified with Christ.”
In his book Slave by John MacArthur he writes:
Slaves of Christ are to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58), “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph 5:10), and ever seeking to understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph 5:17).Slave by John MacArthur. Copyright 2010. Published by Thomas Nelson
The mentally disturbed can rightly be called slaves of Christ if they routinely confess their sins, seek to “fight the good fight of faith” and remain in fellowship with the brethren within the Church. Yet it is a battle. A huge battle.
Advice, Hope and Limitations Learnt
I was advised by a dear brother and sister yesterday about being careful about what I post online. I have now largely abandoned Twitter and abandoned YouTube, radio and television some time ago due to the temptations and false teachings they brought. Yet I know others can find comfort in those things. So who can truly judge? God, and He alone.
I spent some of the afternoon of Monday with some very ill people. There was a disabled person, some Down’s Syndrome people, some with learning disabilities and some I discerned were truly possessed by demons. Yet there were saints with me, in uniforms and out. Not all who belong to Christ confess Him openly. Some live in catacombs of the shadows. And that is the role of the mentally disturbed people of Christ.
Holiness and the Winding River of Mental Ill Health
We are, according to Jesus Christ Himself and the writings of many – though far from all – of the historical saints, called to live lives to holiness and undefiled purity. This is acheived through the Cross of Christ, yet, as a brother evangelist told me, sometimes this is an up then a down and sometimes a down then an up.
Sometimes for those with ceratin conditions the road is far more narrow and winding: a great river or a narrow stream; one which flows out into the Oceans of Faith rather than leading upstream to the pleasurable springs of pure refreshment. Remember that the rivers and streams and seas were not always as polluted as they are now and the rivers and oceans of the true Faith shall never be full of dead fish and bones but that even the sea shall give up her dead.
The ill, the demonic and the saints I had to leave be. I spoke words of confession to a friend and servant, words of comfort (I hope) to an employee and made and offer to give low paid casual labour in return for their kind shelter they have been and I hope shall continue to offer me.
And I met two true brothers this past day. One openly. One a beautiful surprise which prompted me to remember the poor I had been forced to pass by whilst in town earlier.
I end my day of work greatly blessed, still hungry, still drinking water, tea and coffee and still smoking tobacco (though less now that was the case yesterday). And so, with my confessions and, I hope and pray, my encouragements done, I shall now seek to continue my Bible study.