Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Sin of Sadness and Other Nonsense

I wrote this a few years ago while in a Christian based Grad program and wanted to share.  

Here I am again, rattling cages and making people uncomfortable, but I honestly don't know what else to do. One of my classmates posted:

"Based on my personal Christian worldview psychopathology depends solely on a person’s relationship with God. This relationship is totally supported by the gospel of God’s son Jesus Christ, who gave His life for the salvation of mankind (John 3: 16). This salvation restores fallen humanity to proper relationship with their creator. This salvation heals all sorts of sole (mental health) diseases from depression to anxiety and in fact makes every believer, a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In my view, to be separate from God is to be lost without the Sheppard in a harsh and darkened world (see Psalms 23). People that are burdened down with a world of care are prone to falling into pathological behaviors such as lying, cheating, drug abuse, self-harm (cutting, and anorexia), and etc. However, the Bible teaches that when we experience heavy burdens, we can go to God the creator and he will give us rest (Matthew 11:18)." 

My response:

I appreciate your faith and dependence on God's Word, but am fearful that considering all psychopathology as related to a person's relationship with God may be both dangerous, and isolating to clients. I say this as someone who experienced years of abuse and suffered from depression and other mental health issues because of it. I did not choose to sin and separate myself from God, rather, I was abused to the point by people who claimed Christianity, that I was left thinking that if God did exist, He cared nothing for me. 

If I had gone into a therapy session and heard that my problems were due to a problem with my relationship with God, it would have only reinforced my abusers definition of who I was. I am grateful that when I did seek help I found someone who acknowledged how I was thinking and feeling while also showing me God's truth about who I was. It literally saved my life. 

There are other times when a person's mental illness is to to a physical cause and has nothing to do with their relationship with God. I am an adoptive mother to a child who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome and psychosis. Her brain physically does not work the way it is supposed to because of her birth parent's decisions. I don't think there is a child who has ever been more prayed for, or a mother who has ever had more faith that God could choose to heal her baby girl, but He hasn't. 

The miracle, I am finding, isn't in restoration, though I believe it possible; it isn't in healing; though I am praying diligently for it, the miracle is that even when there is not one, God provides strength and grace to bring you thru it .

God will bring you through circumstances so that you can go back later and show someone else the way out. Joseph’s time in slavery lead to him saving an entire nation (Genesis 39, NIV). Jesus’s death and resurrection made a way so that all people can be forgiven (Matthew 27-28 NIV). Our job as counselors isn’t to erase suffering or place value on a clients relationship with God.

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