Peace of Mind 02: Schizophrenia and the Role of Family


Welcome to week 2 of our four week series on mental health and the Church. It’s time to take out the teaching notes and your Bibles. We’ve got so much to learn. And so much growing to do. Today’s conversation is entitled: Schizophrenia & The Role of Family In the book of 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, the apostle Paul talks about his own experience with weakness and unanswered prayer… In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
– The Apostle Paul Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
– Jesus – Well, hi friends here in
Oakville, across our sites and listening online. I’m glad you’re joining us
for week two of this series. I think it’s an important
series for us as a community to become our best selves,
a loving community. Last week we talked about being
a community of the broken. This week we’re talking about becoming a community of the weak. We are turning things upside
down the way Jesus taught us to and I think we’re gonna
learn some important things. Schizophrenia is the mental illness we’ll be talking about as we
highlight a friend of mine. Her name is Sylvia. We’re going to listen to
just a couple of minutes of an interview that I had with her. Understandably as she
thought coming here live might be a little too intimidating. You are an intimidating bunch. And so we pre-recorded
a bit of an interview and we’ll play a little
bit of that for you. As we do so, just a reminder that the different mental illnesses that we might be talking
about during this series are illustrative, not exhaustive. This isn’t a series designed
to just walk through different mental illnesses, but to use specific people’s stories to help learn transferrable lessons to help us become a better community. ‘Cause I know some of you asked, are you gonna cover this,
are you gonna cover that? Next week, Danielle Strickland
is gonna be teaching, just talking about holistic living and what it means to be a healthy person mentally and physically and spiritually and how they all complement one another, something that’s going
to apply to all of us. I think it’s great. And then we’re gonna wrap it
up with extended Q & Eh time the fourth week. And regional sites, by the way, this will be your last
week to send in a question that will get to us in time for the fourth week of this series. So thank you for sending in a question. I hope you guys had a good week. How was your week? Listen, if you had a bad
week, that’s great, too. In fact, I’m doubly
thankful that you’re here if you had a bad week. I had a strange week. Remember last week I had an infection and my face was a little swollen. That’s gone away fine. As you can tell, I’m back
to being my beautiful self. But I’m a little swollen in
my jaw for a different reason. This week I had a tooth pulled. I know. And I learned something about myself. I have very committed teeth. (audience laughs) They want to be where they are. It was an interesting experience. I had a dentist work for quite a while until finally becoming exhausted, taking a break, coming back again, and then after over an hour of trying, finally saying, ah, I
gotta quit, I’m done. And said, I’m gonna refer
you to another dentist who can take it from here across town. So I got out of the chair. We cleaned off all the drool and with my face half
frozen, drove across town for another guy to take
over and get back to work. I think he was an ex-Russian weight lifter who thankfully had taken
up dentistry later in life and was able to get that sucker out. Very committed teeth. A little bit about me because we’re sharing
openly in this series. Now, I want to introduce
you to my friend Sylvia. Before we do, let’s just talk a little bit about schizophrenia. Again, as one of the fascinating ways that our brains can just misfire. Now, one of the stats we
talked about last week that I found most concerning. You remember, it’s the 27% of Canadians said they would be fearful
of being around someone who suffers from serious mental illness. It’s sad. We understand how that happens. When we are even just
awkward around someone that we don’t understand, what we tend not to do is press through and have more conversation
but have less conversation. Sometimes we’re just afraid
we might say the wrong thing, ask the wrong question,
so we tend to back away. When we back away, we increase the space and increased space
allows for more ambiguity and misinformation and stereotyping. We do this with all kinds of prejudice and things that separate us rather than pull us together. And so part of what the church can do of being our best selves is to have people who are just different including those of us with mental illness get to know one another better, draw closer and push in
rather than lean away and overcome that fear. And that’s something I’m grateful that I do see happening
in The Meeting House and that’s something that this
series wants to encourage. When it comes to schizophrenia as a significant mental illness, we find that it affects approximately .7% of every population globally. So that’s about one in every 150 people would have schizophrenia. And so all of our sites, we’ll have someone or a
number of people there who will have schizophrenia. But there’s not only those people. It is the families who are supporting them and then the friends who
are supporting the families and that’s one of things
we wanna talk about today is that we don’t just wanna
be a supportive community for people with mental illness, but we also sometimes
just need to focus on being a supportive
community for those people who are supporting people
with mental illness, for those families who are
working hard to support them and the friends of those families and we want to do our best then to make sure that we are encouraging them. Schizophrenia itself becomes
particularly challenging. It’s characterized by hallucinations, hearing voices or seeing
things that aren’t there, and delusions, that is
fixed, false beliefs. So it could be that someone
just has an impression, they don’t know why, but
they have an impression that someone hates them or
someone wants to attack them or that there is a
conspiracy against them. And this fixed false belief
just seems to be growing and they have to do the hard
work of fighting against what their mind is telling them is true. In other cases, they may see things. But what’s most common
is they’ll hear voices, and these voices may travel
with them everywhere they go. Now the experience, and we
all have an inner voice, but the experience for
someone for schizophrenia is that it actually sounds like
it’s external to themselves, like there are people traveling with them wherever they go talking at them. And so even just to
focus in a conversation, they have to press through that. Now this is for someone
who is wanting to heal and to live healthy. They will take their medications and they will see professional help. They also need the support
of family, friends, community who will keep reminding
them of their better selves and also giving them a place to be honest about what they’re working through. My friend Sylvia, she was
someone who began to hear voices when she was 13 years old and you can imagine how confusing this is. She was someone who throughout
her teen years, then, they started to grow louder and stronger and become increasingly negative. She continues to this day. It has never let up from
when it first started. Continues to this day in every moment including when I was talking
with her in our interview. She hears the voices. What the medication does,
it helps quiet them, but they never completely go away. Different people’s
experience may be different, but for her they are
always negative voices, always condemning. Can you imagine if you
had your worst enemies just walking around with you all the time shouting at you negative
things about yourself? And here’s the fascinating thing and where Sylvia encourages my heart is that because of the support of family who are then supported
by their church family all these years to stay strong, she has been someone who
has been her best self. And she not only declares her worth and knows that God loves her, but she has become a
loving person to others. She’s not just sitting
on the sidelines saying, I’m not gonna listen to these voices. Even more than that, she’s saying, I’m gonna listen to the voice of Jesus, I’m gonna follow his example. And she regularly gives to others. I first heard from her, met her, when I got a Facebook message
from her over 10 years ago. She had read my first book and then she got involved
in The Meeting House at our Brampton site. Shout out to Brampton. And then she’s currently in a phase now where she has a hard
time leaving the house. But even then, whether it’s
through online messages or sending cards or hand-making crafts, we still have a baby blanket
for Mia when she was born, or baking, she is finding
ways to send good things and what means something to her, something she can do often
with crafts, with baking, to bless other people. Our family, like I know many people have been on the receiving end of that. And it’s so encouraging for me to see her push through it. I asked her in our interview, we’re just gonna show a
little bit of that here, I asked her, what’s a lesson
that the church can learn? How can we do a better job? And we’re just gonna jump
right into that interview now and just hear her
response to this question. I think it’s gonna be helpful for us. Let’s listen to this. When the church was helping, what helped? And feel free to say what didn’t help. We gotta learn from that, too. – What helps is just very honestly when people
drop you a little note saying, hey, how are you doing? Or I was thinking of you today. I’ve had people send me, like,
flowers every once in a while or that kind of thing. Something that didn’t help, and I don’t blame people for it, but when a schizophrenic person or somebody stops socializing, sometimes it’s nice to
just be invited anyway even if you know the
person’s not gonna come. ‘Cause then you feel like you’re
still included in the group and people have a tendency
that if you don’t come to something for a while, oh, she’s not gonna come
anyways, stop asking her. Keep asking because it
really makes you feel like you’re not alone, like
you’re part of the group still. – That’s important for
us to hear, thank you. – For me personally, my faith in God has really made me just realize
that I’m a person of worth even though I can’t work or do as much as I wanna do now. I’m still worth something to God. He can still use me to
touch other people’s lives even though I can’t, you know,
be around people as much. He can still use me to show
His love to other people, that kinda thing.
– Yeah. Right on.
– So I would encourage any Christians to just
lean onto their faith ’cause in my experience, God is faithful. He will pull you through the hard parts. – Yeah. Amen. I’m glad you’re getting to
meet Sylvia just a little bit. I so appreciate her courage. Really, she’s my hero in knowing that she is constantly tempted to
be distracted and pulled down and then to just become
inactive and instead she loves. This ties back to
something we said last week is that if you struggle
with mental illness or any disability that can distract you, you’re not only loved by
God, but you’re valued and you’re not just loved
and sitting on the sidelines, that God wants to partner with
you and work with you now, that you’re a valuable
member of this community now and we wanna learn from you,
not just have you tag along but be integrated into community
where you help us slow down and really pay attention. And this is one of the key
lessons of the New Testament of the life of Jesus and the
kind of church that he builds. I want us to see one example of that in the book of 2 Corinthians. We’ve already read it through, but I wanna walk through
it in our own Bibles. So would you open up your Bibles with me to the book of 2 Corinthians chapter 12. We do have visitor Bibles across our sites so if you don’t have your own Bible, you can grab one of those. And we’ll just take a few moments to look at 2 Corinthians 12 and then we’ll throw it open to Q & Eh in a few moments after that. The idea of God valuing
weakness is so important. When we are too self-sufficient, when we’re too strong, we
start to believe our own press. We are less open to what God
may wanna do in our lives, we start to ignore those
people on the margins and we’re out of tune
with the pattern of Jesus. Jesus is God the Almighty
born into weakness. That is the Christ event. That’s who Jesus is. And then his ministry reflects that. As the king of a new kind of
kingdom ascends to his throne the cross, it’s a place of weakness where it seems as though his
persecutors are the powerful. When Jesus is discipling,
when he calls his students, his apprentices around him, his disciples, he calls very average guys. Not all of them literate,
some of them fishermen, not particularly educated. But it’s through that kind
of weakness and openness that he wants to build
this new kind of community. In fact, later on after his resurrection, he does call one more disciple. His name is Paul, the Apostle Paul, who is very different
than the other disciples. He would be academically strong, he would be socially influential, he would be someone who would have all the markings of strength and so it’s interesting that
God actually allows weakness to come into his life to
actually make him more usable. And Paul talks about that
in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 as well as other places. He talks about an event
that happened in his life 14 years ago. He begins the chapter talking
about a spiritual experience. He says, even then, and
early in chapter 11 as well he’s been talking about some
of his spiritual pedigree that would make him feel
that he has reason to boast and be important as well
as spiritual experiences he talks about in chapter 12. And then we can pick it up in verse seven. Verse seven of 2 Corinthians 12. Halfway through the
verse, he says, therefore. So he’s been talking about
his spiritual pedigree, his intellect, his background
and his spiritual experiences which would set him apart, give him a higher kind of authority than the other disciples. “But therefore, in order to
keep me from becoming conceited, “I was given a thorn in my flesh.” “I was given a thorn in my flesh.” The word thorn here is literally
the Greek word for stake. Used in military battles,
what they might build, protect defenses with, or what they might put
in the bottom of a pit if they wanted the
enemy to fall into a pit and impale themselves. It’s the word for stake. For when Paul says I’ve
got a thorn in my flesh, this is more of a (dramatic
pain noises), not a ow. Thorn might not be the best translation. This is causing him great pain and he says it was given him. This is intentional wording. Paul never uses the
language of God gave me or God made me. Not all suffering is
directed immediately to God or attributed to God directly, but rather he does say it was given me. He leaves it vague. It seems as though ultimately of course, God is using everything. There’s this verse in Romans
the Apostle Paul wrote, Romans 8:28, where he says this: “And we know that in all things,” in all things, in all things, “God works for the good
of those who love him, “who have been called
according to his purpose.” In all things. So what the promise is, not
that God is causing all things, but there is a promise that in all things, God will be working. God is going to be working for your good. If you turn your life over to God, He will now be joined to
you and partnered with you for your good. And that goes for everything that happens. And here is a case where God may have removed his protection. Now then Satan rushes in and says, ah-ha! This is my moment to attack! But God is ultimately gonna
use this for his good, for Paul’s good. And so he says, I had a
thorn or a stake in my flesh. “A messenger of Satan.” A messenger here is actually angelos, the Greek word for angel. Someone who comes delivering
a message is what an angel is. So this is a Satanic angel in a sense. That’s the thorn in the flesh,
to torment me, to torment me. The word here for
torment is the Greek word meaning to strike with the knuckles. So it’s not a slap, it’s
not a poke, it’s a punch. Paul says, I’ve been under attack. It’s felt like a stake in my gut and I feel beat up by this. Many people with mental
illness or other things going on in your life
that will pull you down or distract you, will
feel beaten up by it. You’ll feel pummeled. This is Paul’s experience here. Now what exactly was
the thorn in the flesh the messenger from Satan? How did it manifest in
Paul’s life, we don’t know. We don’t know. Could’ve been mental illness, could’ve been physical illness. It could have been relational challenge. He goes on to talk about
and has been talking about beforehand being persecuted. And so it could’ve been the
persecution in his life. We don’t know and it’s probably really
good that we don’t know because the principle then
here applies to all of us in all kinds of situations. It’s also important to point out that while Paul is saying in this case, this was like a Satanic attack, it doesn’t mean that we can
attribute any particular thing going on in our life as
necessarily a Satanic attack. Doesn’t mean that all mental
illness is a Satanic attack any more than physical illness
or relational breakdown, but it does mean that
all of us all the time may be under attack. Paul says that Satan prowls
around like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour. One of the ways that lions hunt is by looking for those who
are separated from the herd. And so Satan may prey upon,
he may twist the knife, he may exploit a physical
illness, a mental illness, a relational separation. He may be at work at all of our lives trying to find our weak places. And yet God doesn’t say, I just want you to buck up
and be personally strong. He actually wants us to be weak so that we rely on a
different kind of power, the supernatural power
of God found in community when we stay tight and we stay close. So Paul says he prayed
for this to go away. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord “to take it away from me.” “Three times I pleaded with the Lord “to take it away from me.” But here’s what Jesus said in response: “My grace is sufficient for you “for my power is made
perfect in weakness.” Paul asked for healing,
wholeness, just take it away, and Jesus said, no, actually,
I’m just gonna leave it there. We’re just gonna leave it there. You gotta do life with this there and that’s gonna make you
more relied on my grace. So God, Jesus, offers two
different things here. Number one, grace, which is
unconditional acceptance. It’s an embrace a part from performance. Many of us, whether with
mental illness or not, many of us, especially
within religious circles, suffer from PBA. We’ve talked about this before. PBA, what is PBA? Performance-based acceptance. You may be suffering from PBA. This is a public service announcement. You may be suffering from PBA right now, performance-based acceptance. If I can just do enough,
God will accept me, the community will accept me and church should be the
exact opposite of that. This should be the place
where we say, grace, grace. Front-end loading
acceptance, welcome, embrace. Now I can be real about my
failures and about my hurts, my inadequacies, about my weakness. So Jesus teaches this lesson to Paul. You see, the more proficient you are, the more apparently successful you are, the more you will be tempted
to do it on your own, the more you’ll be tempted
to fan in the flame your own media, your own appearance as someone who is successful. And so Paul would’ve
been one of those people. God says, you’ll be better
off with a thorn in your flesh relying on my grace. And so He offers him grace, unconditional acceptance. And then number two, divine energy in and
through vulnerability. That is, He says my power
is made perfect in weakness. He calls Paul to be the leader who is weak and vulnerable. And we see the Apostle Paul, remember, he’s describing something
that happened in his life 14 years ago, we see in his
other writings this comes up again and again then that
he is teaching the community a lesson that he learned before. If we back up a bit, if you turn back to 1
Corinthians chapter 12. So we were just at 2
Corinthians chapter 12. If you turn back to 1
Corinthians chapter 12, Paul there is talking
about the body of Christ and how we all have a
different role to play in the body of Christ. We’re like different body
parts playing our role and as he’s teaching that
in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, if you see verse 21 and 22. He says, “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you, “and the head cannot say to
the feet, I don’t need you. “On the contrary,” here’s the line, “Those parts of the body
that seem to be weaker “are indispensable.” “Those parts of the body that seem weaker “are indispensable.” The parts that we think
are less honourable, we treat with special honour. He says there are parts of the
body that you just don’t see. They don’t grand stand. They just seem weak, they just sit there. I have a liver, I’m told I have a liver. What does the liver do? (poses like a sassy liver) It just sits there. Come on, liver, make yourself useful. I got feet, they carry me places. I can strut. I got hands, they can do, they can make. I can’t make anything, I don’t know. They can type, they can type. I got thumbs, they can play a game. I got stuff that can do stuff,
my liver just sits there. But I can lose a hand and still live. Not my liver. The stuff that is weaker
is often more vital. And he says this, this is
how the Christian community should treat those who are
suffering or who are weakened. We need to pay attention to them and value them not even just
equally but as extra precious to our community. They will keep us healthy. We pull them close. And if that’s you, please,
please come closer. Let us pull you closer. Be involved with us. You have real value to us. Well, there’s another
passage I’m gonna share by way of conclusion,
but before I do that, let me just throw it open to Q & Eh. Do you have a question
about either these passages we just looked at? What the Apostle Paul says? Any questions? Raise a hand if you do. We’ve got someone with a microphone. They need to see you and they’ll come. And we also, okay, we’ve
got a text question as well. Nikky says, is there insight
in the Bible about self care in regard to compassion fatigue? Empathy and the care or outreach to others can be exhausting. Loving yourself is just as
important as sharing love but as Christ followers, it’s
sometimes hard to balance. Nikky, right on, yes. Love is a robust concept. The antidote, the
biblical antidote to this, I’m glad you raised this, is a full understanding of what love is. So love says, I will
do the work to honour. I will do the work to honour a person. And we want to love others
as we love ourselves. And that does take work. But for me to honour someone well, I need to be the healthiest version of me to love them well and to
love them as I love myself. And so love is not a sentiment that says, I am codependently attached to you and I will approve of
anything you do all the time, which just causes me to become an enabler and you can walk all over me. Because love says, I wanna help
you become the best version of yourself that you can be. And if I’m gonna help you
become the best version of yourself that you can be, I’m not gonna let you walk all over me because that’s helping you become a negative version of yourself, a sinful version of yourself, and I’m not gonna let that happen because I love you too much. So a robust understanding of love says, I am going to give myself
to the project of you. But that may come in the
form of accountability, it may come out in the form of boundaries, of challenge, of rebuke, as
well as kindness and compassion. And so I think Jesus helps
us see what that looks like and we, as his disciples, we
get a more robust understanding of what love is. Love is not just a feeling of attachment, it’s a command. Jesus can command us
even to love our enemies. So in spite of how we feel,
it’s something we can choose, but it’s always for the good of someone. And so ask the question, is
the net result for their good? If it is, then I’m loving well. If I’m just facilitating their sin because I’m always hanging around and I’m always being nice no
matter what, that’s not love. It’s just co-dependence. If we get a clearer
vision of what love is, love never has to be
balanced with anything else. Sometimes in our culture, we’ll say, yes, love is good, but you also need– I’m sure there’s many things you need, but love in and of itself,
if it’s rightly understood, properly practiced, is enough. It is robust. And it will lead to the health of everyone making choices in that situation
if it’s fully lived out. Thank you. Thanks, Nikky, for that question. Oka, where’s the mic landed? Over here, good. – [Man] Yes, Bruxy. The movie “A Beautiful
Mind” comes to mind. Do you think that is an accurate
depiction of schizophrenia? I know it’s Hollywood, but
what do you think about that? – Yeah, you know, and I’ve heard from some that it is in many ways. It’s a Hollywood version
of still something that is fairly accurate
of one person’s experience with schizophrenia. It’s important to point
out that if you’ve seen “A Beautiful Mind,” I
mean, his hallucinations were vivid and visual, relational, and that’s not the most
common version of it. That’s one possible
version of schizophrenia, but another is just the voices. You don’t see a person,
you just hear the voices all the time wherever you go. I think in that, he’s actually
interacting with people he believes are real. He’s standing in front of
them that aren’t there. But that is one possibility
of how it can manifest, yeah. Great, great illustration. Thanks. Anyone else before we wrap up? Oh, okay.
– Hi, Bruxy. I was just wondering, so I grew up– – Okay.
– Sorry. (audience laughs) I grew up in a home of, well, I’m very well aware of mental illnesses. My thing is, ’cause it
doesn’t come from God and most of the things
that happen in our mind is a mental attack from the enemy. That’s something that I was
raised on and I know of. I personally suffer with
depression and anxiety myself. I know that the thoughts
that I have in my mind certainly would not come
from the Father that I know. So my question to you is
what are your thoughts on, I guess, where it comes from and like what we should do instead of maybe taking medication like
what we can do in our faith spiritually?
– Yeah, good, thanks for that. I’ll answer two ways. One is that’s a great advertisement
to come back next week when Danielle talks about holistic health, psychologically and
physically and spiritually and how they complement one another. But having said that, what is interesting, it’s very true, when you
say this is not of God. If you are having thoughts
of your lack of worth, lack of value or certainly
voices that are telling you to self-destruct in
any way, shape or form, we know that’s not of God. It’s not truth, that’s pure lie. And then the question is,
well what’s the source? On one hand, doesn’t
matter what the source is. If you know it’s a lie,
don’t listen to it, right? Whether that’s your own mind or that’s a messenger from
Satan, the principle’s the same: it’s not from God, don’t listen to it. Now what’s interesting
about schizophrenia, as we understand, time’s past. The church didn’t understand
that our mind, our soul, is mediated through an
organ in our flesh body called the brain. And sometimes that organ
just like any other organ can fail us, it can misfire. Now the church didn’t understand that. So if someone says, I hear voices, what would be, in every case, they would only have a
supernatural explanation for that. It must be the devil talking to you or it’s God talking to you. We understand better now
that while people can have genuine supernatural
encounters both with light and with darkness, what we also know is that
the brain is an organ that functions like
other organs in the body and sometimes it misfires. For instance, people with schizophrenia, this is fascinating, when brain scans are done, when
they are hearing the voices, the part of the brain
responsible for talking begins to fire. In other words, it’s
clear that their own brain is doing the talking. But it’s tricking their receptors to think that whatever that part
of the brain is saying is actually coming in through the ear from some external source. But it’s their own brain and
the talking centre of the brain that’s firing while they’re
hearing the voices out there. So this is a broken brain, you understand. This is a part of the brain talking to another part of the brain telling the person
whatever they’re saying. In Sylvia’s case, it’s
just negative things. You’re no good, you’re worthless. And we can see that. And so it can be treated with
medication and other things. So this is one of the
stigmas we have to take away from mental illness is old thinking that, well, I mean if
you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t say, well that’s
obviously attack of Satan. You might just say, I
think you broke your leg. (audience laughter) I don’t know, maybe
Satan rejoices in that, maybe he tripped you up, or
maybe you just broke your leg. And it’s the same thing
with mental illness. Truth is, Satan is trying to
attack all of us all the time and he will exploit our weakness. But mental illness is an
illness like other illnesses with an organ in our
body called the brain. Yeah. So I hope that answered
your question or helped. If not, it was still a
great diatribe I think. (audience laughs) I learned something. Hey, let’s wrap this up. There’s a number of articles from the mental health profession that point out the positive
role that churches can make. You know, it used to be within the mental health profession that religious connection
was kind of debated as whether it was helpful or harmful because people’s delusions
within schizophrenia would often have a religious base to them. Now that’s true. Whatever culture we find people in, their delusions will often be affected by whatever religious assumptions
they have within that culture so within a predominately
Christian culture, someone may have Christian
religious delusions. So I hear voices and I think
those voices are demons or I hear voices and I
think they’re angels. And people often explain the experience through their religious paradigm and so one of the defaults was if we can help people become more secular, it might help us fight the
trickery of the illness. But now the mental health profession is really turning a
corner and is admitting that actually more people
with schizophrenia do well and are more healthy
when they’re connected to a religious or spiritual community than those who are not. It’s true, the illness may take the form of a religious delusion
but the antidote to that is not becoming secular and disconnected. It’s actually pressing in to truth and finding the God who loves you and who makes it clear, who says, stamped it, no erasies, through the life and death and
life again of Jesus Christ. And then that helps counter the lies. That’s certainly been Sylvia’s experience. And so a couple of things that at least one article recommends. They say community religious groups can serve as places of sanctuary where persons with psychotic illness will be protected from
stigma and discrimination. There’s a lot of stereotypes about people with mental illness,
especially schizophrenia. The sensational versions of
the most horrific examples that then sometimes turn violent are the ones of course we
hear about in the news. While countless people all around us are just quietly struggling
with the exhaustion of just trying to show up and do life. And like Sylvia said, we love them well by continuing to pay
attention and to invite them even if they don’t have
the energy to engage and still loves them well. Another recommendation is that
community religious groups can provide safe communities
and social networks for persons with psychotic illnesses, thereby combating loneliness
and social isolation. So social stigma and also social isolation are two things that we want
to be here to combat against. There’s this line from the Apostle Paul which we’ll close with. It’s again in the book of 1 Corinthians in the first chapter. You can turn to it. I’ll just put it up on the screen. 1 Corinthians 1. He’s talking to the church and you have to know the context here is that he’s talking to the
people about the people. He says, you, you people, don’t
get too proud of yourselves because just as Jesus
created what you might call a weak group of disciples who couldn’t boast in their own strength, you know, just often uneducated guys. That’s the same for you. He says, you know, the church in Corinth is not being built by the
upper class and the educated. There are slaves meeting with free people and women, what? And they all have a place together? And so he’s talking to them
about their own weakness and in that context, he says this: “God chose the weak things of the world “to shame the strong.” And the weak things of the world he’s talking about are the people. “God chose the lowly things of
this world and the despised.” Not that God despises them,
but the world pushes them aside and say, well that’s not
something we care about. And in fact, there’s this awkwardly worded but very powerful kind
of philosophical moment in Paul where he says, “and the things that are not” and the context here,
what’s he’s saying is, those things that people
consider nonexistent. God’s even chosen things that from people’s point of view,
it’s like they don’t exist, they’re the things we ignore. He’s chosen the things that are not to nullify the things that are. All the things that we value
that are right in front of us, the pretty, popular, successful,
hip, fashionable, cool, whatever those things are
that fuel our attention and those other people, not the people we hate or despise even. There’s some who are despised, he says, but then there’s even
just people who it’s like, we just treat ’em like they don’t exist. We just don’t notice them. They’re just the people
you don’t think about. He said, those people
flying under the radar, it says, though they’re not. Maybe in the first century,
that would have obviously been both women and the slave class. And Jesus would have included children, the ones who are just ignored. He says, we’re putting you all together and we’re calling you family. And God specifically cares
about the slave class, the people who are disenfranchised, who are on the margins, the people who you just ignore, the people who can’t excel
in the social settings. God specifically delights
in building a community out of these people He calls
the community of the weak. This is a great lesson for us. If we’re gonna be a healthy church, if we’re gonna be the people
that God has designed us to be, that we be a community of the weak. If you’re someone who suffers
in any way, let us know. Come closer, draw in. At The Meeting House, different churches do it different ways. You know, some churches
have very targeted programs. A support group for this. A men’s group and a women’s group. And they have different
kinds of targeted groups. God bless them, it’s wonderful. At The Meeting House, we
do it a little differently. We have this thing called Home Church. And Home Church, we just try
and pack everybody together who’s different so we can
learn from one another and do life together. And let me invite you into that community. And if you’re someone who says, I don’t currently struggle,
but I’m a family member who’s struggling to support or I’m a friend who’s
supporting a family member who– and you’re just exhausted
then let us know. We not only want to love you well, but we want to give you a place and position to love each other well so that we can learn from you and we can be a more Jesus-y community. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, a thank you, thank you for turning our
expectations upside down and for giving us the
freedom to be vulnerable, to be weak and to not carry
that as a kind of shame. I pray that your spirit will
pull us closer together. Nurture the community that
we call The Meeting House. Help us learn from one another
and grow more Christ-like as you fill us with your spirit. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

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Comments

  1. Bruxy; I apologize, but my ears (and my wife's, for that matter, lol) cannot register what you are saying at about 37:39 and on. I believe you are referring to the effects of Jesus's "life and death and life again" but I got hung up on the phrase, or word, or words I don't understand… something about "stamps out, or erases"…

    Having said that, what I did understand strikes many chords, in me. There is so much here that I can apply to my own experience. Not only in reaching out and being kind to such that are not used to be being treated kindly, or with understanding, but also for my own battle with mental illness, in the form of depression and a binge eating disorder…

    Blessings be on Sylvia for pushing through and sharing this despite her condition – and to you Bruxy, for bringing it to us and shedding light where much darkness and confusion has had full reign for far too long!

    Thank you so much.

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