As I sit and try to convince words to make the journey from my head to the paper, the tears recently streaming down my face are starting to dry. Tears, you ask? You see, I have found that I haven’t been at a loss for words recently, but rather the strength necessary to form them into a neat little package to share with each of you.
Many of you have shared concern, knowing that I’m walking through a really difficult season. For that, know you have my gratitude.
It’s hard to decide even where to start. But, I’m going to do the only thing I know to do. Take off the training wheels, and just start the ride. You know by now that I am not fond of sugar coating things, and this will be no different. There is a conversation playing on repeat inside my head, and I am going to share that with you.
I was recently talking about some pretty deep topics – life and death, God and faith. Included in this conversation were some pretty strong views on the reasons people suffer and potentially even die. The discussion centers around physical and mental health / illness and the relation of faith in the whole mix. I was stunned by some of the responses I was given to my thoughts / questions.
Me: yes, my daughter died after having fought brain cancer for 3 years
Them: its a shame. Cancer is spiritual. You know miracles are real and still happen. If only the faith were there to have cast those demons out.
Me: so, what you’re saying is that my daughter would still be alive if what, I prayed more? Had more faith?
Them: yes. There was a pastor once who lost a child similarly. Then he learned about deliverance and now he has a powerful healing ministry. Sees miracles. Even he knows that if his faith was in a different place then, his child would still be here.
Me: I see.
Also me: so. Let me ask one more thing. Can we chat about mental health / illness?
Them: of course. What’s on your mind?
Me: in your opinion, is our mental health a spiritual thing?
Them: it’s not just my opinion. It’s fact.
Me: so, if someone is diagnosed with a mental illness, it’s a spiritual condition?
Them: Absolutely. I love how much you’re learning. Mental illness can be traced to demonic powers and has a spiritual basis. Only God can take them away. Medications and psychological remedies will only mask the real issue. A person needs to be delivered.
Me: when there are (documented) chemical imbalances – these are what, demons at play?
Them: you’re exactly right! Demonic activity that can be controlled. Cast the demons out, and problem is solved. True freedom.
Me: well. Okay then. Good to know.
Also me: oh the thoughts and questions I have for God one day…
Them: what questions or areas of doubt do you have?
Me: nevermind all that right now
Them: well, you know you’re always as close to Him as you want to be. The ball is in your court – your choice to make. If you feel you’re far from God, its your fault – cause He’s always there.
This was a condensed version of said conversation. I’m not going to lie. This conversation made me a mixture of sad and angry – amongst other things. Imagine someone asking if they can pray for you then them talking to demons. Casting them out. Going to war against those demons – binding the strongmen and plundering their houses…it is a mind boggling experience. Having grown up in and around the Bible belt in the deep south, I heard similar notions throughout my formative years. When posed with a conversation of this nature, I can 100% understand why people walk away from God.
This kind of theology is deadly in and of itself. The idea that my daughter would still be alive if I had more faith or prayed more – is shit. Sorry for the words, but plain and simple: it is. I guarantee, with absolute certainty, that my sweet little girl was surrounded by precious faith – the combined faith of thousands. She still died. (And that sucks.) I don’t know WHY some people are healed, and some people aren’t healed this side of Heaven. That’s something I’ve come to realize I’m just not going to know the answer to this side of Heaven.
The notion that all mental illness is spiritual is a falsehood of epic proportions. I’m not negating the idea that demons exist – but, I definitely don’t believe that all mental health / illness related conditions are as a result of demonic activity. Honestly, that’s just absurd. I think this is not only wrong – but also dangerous. To tell a person dealing with depression, anxiety, grief, etc that they could be healed if the demons were effectively cast out, or if their faith were strong enough – it makes me want to scream. This is NOT Biblical, folks. Yes, the Bible talks about these things, but not in the way many abuse the notion.
Chemical imbalances exist. Documented. Real. Don’t negate science, or the need for help. Professional help – be that medications or therapy, etc – is often necessary for healing to take place. From a Christian standpoint, yes – God CAN heal people miraculously. It happens. But, it doesn’t ALWAYS happen. I don’t know why some are healed, and some aren’t. I don’t think we’ll ever know the answer to this, this side of Heaven.
Think of it this way. God’s healing can come in and through medical professionals, and the medications prescribed. Healing comes in all shapes and sizes – and shouldn’t be dismissed either way.
To tell a person that “if they only had more faith, then…” is dangerous, potentially deadly theology. Please, stop. Don’t ask a person if you can pray for them, then proceed with an exorcism of sorts, casting out the demons you believe are causing their troubles. Pray that God gives them peace, regardless of the situation. Pray that God’s love penetrates the painful places. Pray for their comfort. Pray they are able to find and hold onto hope. Pray that they find help. Pray that they understand that they aren’t alone, and that there isn’t shame in seeking help. Show people love. Point them to help – even if said help isn’t your traditional variety. Help looks different for everyone.
If any of this resonates with you, please hear me. You are not alone. You are loved, exactly where you are. The things that you feel make you broken – they don’t. They make you human. It’s okay to not always be okay. It’s okay to reach out and ask for help. That doesn’t display weakness, but rather courageous strength. Know that if you’ve heard any of this kind of absurd theology – there is hope. There is help. Please feel free to
If you are in immediate danger to yourself or another, please dial 911. It is NEVER too late. You can anonymously call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-873-8255. If your voice is shaky and you would rather text, you can send a text to the @crisistextline 747-747 and you will be connected with a person who cares about you. Where you are. How you got there, and want to help you see that hope is still real. Love is still the most powerful force on the planet. You can find a host of local resources from @TWLOHA.