Pastor Chad’s Link…

 

“Faith and Mental Illness”

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia. This is our refrain in the season of Easter. God’s love is shown to all of us, through God’s son, Jesus our Lord. Jesus did many acts of healing, and among those acts was casting out demons. It has been thought that demon possession in the biblical days equals mental illness today. But this is myth #1 along the line of faith and mental illness. We know there are plenty of people-maybe you to varying degrees-who suffer anxiety, depression, or deal with addictive tendencies (all these are commonly known as mental illnesses as defined by the Mayo Clinic). Being possessed by a demon is not the same as having a mental illness. A possession is not like an illness. Mental illnesses have pre-conditions—biological and social—that bring on their onset. Heredity and responding to difficult circumstances in life can bring on anxiety, depression, or bring out an addiction.

Myth #2 about faith and mental illness is that mental illness does not have to be attached to a sin. Sin can be, at times, the reason behind or the inherent nature of overindulging (or abusing that which can be fixated upon-drugs, chemicals, gambling, etc.). But when an addiction moves from abuse (where there is more of an element of choice involved) to disease, where the fixation or craving can be unbearable, it is important to make a distinction. A disease is a problem the self cannot always handle-or cannot deal with without help.

Our Lord Jesus is the Lord of healing. May is Mental Health Awareness month. This month’s awareness of this important issue among us goes back to 1949 in the United States. Indeed, as long as humans have lived, there have been adversities and difficult realities stemming from lack of mental well being. I hope that in this time, mental health problems can lose their stigma. Problems in the mind, untreated, can be harsh and can lead to death.

May we be called to look out for one another-this has been a slogan for all times, not just in a pandemic time. If you notice concerning behaviors in someone that differ markedly from what you know of their behavior in the past, speak up! If you know you are not as healthy mentally as you could be, seek help!

-National Suicide Prevention helpline: 800-273-8255

-Call a mental health professional nearby (look up the specialties of a counselor, psychologist, or clinical social worker that relate to the need);

-Or call me and I can visit with you confidentially, and refer you to a licensed provider.

Happy Easter to you…and be well!

Pastor Christensen