This blog was written at the invitation of Amy Simpson (author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission) and posted on her site October 2, 2017. I was grateful to her for the opportunity to share these thoughts with her readers.
I can’t honestly say I am thankful for the mental illness that besets our son. But in full truthfulness I can say I am glad to have been forced to do battle with my theology of suffering and to test both its mettle and mine.
Like so many others, it was in late adolescence when Douglas slammed into the invisible wall of mental illness. He was running forward, full throttle, toward his goals for college and career when his world—and ours—crashed.
An article I read years ago about children with ADD was entitled “Unhappy Wanderers.” It’s also a succinct and sobering description of many who struggle with mental illnesses. In fact, for many years it was the title I attached to our son, like a knight’s moniker … Douglas: the Unhappy Wanderer. Continue reading
I hung up the phone and turned back to my friend sitting across the table. “Every time I talk to or see Douglas I need to take a moment to catch my breath and then worship my God of the impossible,” I whispered, awestruck, once again. Continue reading
My curious eyes followed him around the store. He was easy to track in his seersucker shorts, almost-tucked-in long-sleeve plaid flannel shirt and unmatched socks sliding into well-worn sandals. As he walked/skipped/danced unfettered up and down the aisles, he talked quietly to himself. Continue reading
I first became aware of mental illness when I was about nine years old. I overheard my grandparents talking in hushed tones with my dad about my mother. At the time they didn’t label the behavior they were discussing with the words, “mental illness.” But even without a name, we all knew what we were seeing, and we knew someone needed to do something. I guess someone did because things calmed down in our family for a while. Continue reading
They say that the Christmas holidays can be especially sad for those who deal with mental illnesses. For many years in our household, our unhappy holiday was Easter. You see, it was Easter Day, 1997, 20 years ago, when our son’s world crashed. And though we didn’t recognize it at the time, ours did too. Continue reading
I’m not a runner. But I have many friends who are, and they tell me that there are specialized kinds of training and clothing needed depending on the type of running that you’re going to do. A sprinter trains very specifically, as does a marathon runner. Running in a relay is not at all like racing over hurdles. The shoes are different; the course is different; the preparation is different. It is important, therefore, for a runner to know which race they’re in, so they can train, equip and pace themselves for that particular kind of run. Continue reading
Douglas had been up all night. In the back yard. Staring at the sky. Listening to the voices. Receiving his mission. The mania was in full swing and as he informed me the next morning of the orders God had given him, the words tumbled from his mouth in a flurry of jumbled thoughts and elevated volume. He had heard a voice he believed was from God, and as soon as he received his dad’s blessing he would head out to proclaim the message. Continue reading
Community is God’s idea. And it’s a great one! We see it first in the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. We see it in the Garden of Eden when Adam needed Eve. We also see it demonstrated by Jesus as He gathers the disciples to be with Him. As a small community, together they explored the depths of His love and came to know the extent of His sufferings. After Christ’s ascension God created the Church, a community tasked to love and care for one another and to share His good news everywhere. Continue reading