I turned over my phone to see a text from my mom, ‘’hey, can I bring you a green tea and quickly have a chat??” #sheknowshowtogetme. 30 minutes later and we were sitting in her brand-new Range Rover on my driveway sipping the only cheap green tea we could find in our tiny town. I could tell she needed to tell me something that I wouldn’t like, so being the Enneagram 3 I am, I began the conversation with, “ok so what the heck is going on?!”
“I didn’t want to tell you until I heard what was going on from the source. But you need to know that **** church is excommunicating people who struggle with mental illness.” My throat immediately swelled, and I felt tears well up in my eyes.
I have struggled immensely with mental illness since I was a child. I told my parents with the help of a teacher in grade 9 and at 21, my Mayo clinic doctors explained that the intense darkness over my mind was because of how unbalanced my hormones were. Growing up in a more conservative religious culture posed its challenges when struggling with mental illness. Some believed I struggled because of hidden sin in my life and others believed medication was from the devil. After years of therapy, medical research and simply living day to day with mental illness I became equipped to work in depth with women who also struggle with the same illness.
Women who struggle in silence with fear of what their family or friends would say. Women who have been removed from leadership within their religious organizations because of their struggle. Women who have been asked to leave their churches, families or jobs because of their illness.
These women come to me with wounded hearts and stories that make me hit my knees in prayer with tears streaming down my face. Families destroyed. Faith smashed to pieces. Women who are shells of who they were created to be.
THIS NEEDS TO FREAKIN STOP
Our churches need to once again become sanctuaries for the ill. We need to repaint Christ as the comforter, lover and healer who we know He is. We need to silence the leaders who manipulate the sick into believing they are no longer accepted or loved.
WE NEED TO TAKE THE POWER BACK
Truth: I didn’t talk about this story for months with intentions of not wanting to gossip or ‘speak ill’ of this church that many of you know. Every morning I felt convicted that all I was really doing was letting people walk into a trap. So, screw it. Jesus destroyed a temple when He felt the occupants were disrespecting His Father. I can do my part and raise a little hell.
When a group of people decides to disrespect those who struggle with mental illness, I will speak. When someone decides to act like God is telling them to remove a struggling soul from their community, I will warn everyone I know. We need to start having each other’s backs, and I’m willing to let that start with me.
I want to hear from you, speak up! Tell me your story of mental illness inside of a spiritual community. And if you are currently inside a nasty situation, GET OUT. You deserve better. You will thrive when you are in a community full of love. You WILL get back on your feet again.
Me and my husband joined a new spiritual community just over a month ago and let me tell you, there isn’t a Sunday I have a dry eye the entire morning. Their respect for people struggling with mental illness, their encouragement of having more female leaders, their process of dealing with sexual assault and rape. Attending is healing me. Trust me, there ARE these communities. You can find one too. But you never will as long as you subject yourself to spiritual abuse and manipulation. GET OUT. I know how hard it is. Trust me. I only wish someone had encouraged me to get out sooner. So that is what I will do for you.
You’ve got this.