It really hurts when Christians shun you because you have a mental illness. I was in a Bible group and the assignment was Jonah’s prayer. I noted in the margin that suicide is never the only option.
When I shared the picture of my Bible page, I mentioned why that mattered from my perspective–because I have a mental illness.
No one responded in the comments, as they typically had. The moderator, who comments on EVERY post, did not comment on mine. The next day, the admin blocked me.
I’m sharing this because it’s real. It happens. It’s my life. You may think Christians are above this, but they’re not. Mental illness is too scary to them–too misunderstood. I want to be open about it because I want people to understand.
I always try to turn every painful incident into a teachable moment. It helps get the bad taste out of my mouth. Let’s look at how Jesus treated people who were messy and broken.
God shows compassion for those broken and rejected.
“Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” (Mark 1:41).
Jesus touched the man with leprosy. He wasn’t afraid he would become infected by the sick man. Jesus wasn’t afraid of what people would think. He wasn’t grossed out by the man’s condition. Instead, Jesus saw a man. The man had a name and a family. He had hopes and dreams. He had physical and emotional pain. Jesus saw him. He heard him. He touched him. It was one on one. It was a personal interaction. It was grace. It was love. It was pure and holy.
People with mental illness are more than their condition. Each one has a name, a family, dreams, and pain. We must follow the example of Jesus by treating each person as an individual, not a condition. You don’t have to understand it. You don’t have to like it. But you have to accept the person and let him or her know it.
Maybe you are afraid or don’t understand mental illness. Maybe you’d prefer to keep your distance or keep anyone with mental illness out of your group. Instead of looking at your discomfort or looking at the mentally ill person who might make you uncomfortable, look to God. Look for God’s love for that person. Then let God’s love flow through you to touch that person’s life. It might be messy and uncomfortable, but you can be sure it’s worth the blessing.