An interesting question was asked at a meeting I attended recently: “How can mental health disorders prevent a person from hearing a healing message from Biblical Scripture, and how might a message from Scripture result in healing?”
As a person who exhibits symptoms currently associated with the DSM-5 diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), my first thoughts were:
“If I am a new creation in Christ, why am I still challenged by the physiological and mental (cognitive) symptoms characterized as ADHD?”
I mean, if being a “new creation” does not include freedom from the old body, especially the old drives & motivations, then how can I believe the next words “the old has gone, the new is here?!”
Right about now, there may be some readers who are thinking “Is this guy challenging the sufficiency of Scripture to heal?”
The answer is “No, I do not challenge the power of God's Word.”
I do believe, however, that to get answers to the hard questions, believers in a living God need to be willing to ask Him honestly (James 1:5) and without fear (Hebrews 4:16).
As a therapist, I have worked in many clinics with more than a few people who described their lives and faith in ways that could easily be characterized as “devout.” Believing them to be faithful, I still watched them experience bouts with Anxiety, Depression, Manic episodes, and Psychosis.
So my question was “why do these symptoms persist in spite of their faith in a loving and healing God?”
Of course one does not have to read very far in the Bible to see people identified in Hebrews chapter 11 as “living by faith” whose behaviors might have easily been described as symptomatic of DSM-V diagnoses had the diagnoses existed at the time: Sampson (Anti-Social), Gideon (Anxiety), Jeremiah (Depression), Ezekiel (Psychosis).
Path to Freedom
The shift in thinking for me began when I remembered Jesus’ prayer in John 17:15 asking that His believers be sanctified -- yet “not taken out of the world -- but protected from the evil one.”
Paul’s illustration of resurrection and the “new body” as similar to the difference between a wheat seed (our current physical bodies) and the wheat plant, which looks very different on the outside and yet is essentially the same on the inside seems to speak to what this might look like.
I began to see that the "old me" (B.C. Luigi: Before Christ, and before the Holy Spirit’s revelation of what “Grace” meant), living in the shell of my current physical body, would berate myself with harsh words when I made a mistake in an effort to achieve "improved behavior" and "obedience" by punishing myself for mental errors (in my case forgetfulness, or missing important cues).
This striving for perfectionism in my own strength obviously did not work, in fact it only served to make future errors more likely given the added stress & fear of failure. It also made it hard for me to listen to God when he told me He Loves me - how could he love this mess?
Instead, the A.D. “new me” now has a different spirit and mind, but I still live in the same shell (the same body and brain, the same flesh). Rather than berate myself, this new "Grace Focused" mind works to accept the physical limitations of my flesh, similar to accepting that my current body’s eyes will always require adjustment (glasses). So my physical imperfections are not “new” or "changed," but the spirit living inside this imperfect shell, and the life I experience as a result, are both brand new – full of light and freedom, in Christ & His Love.
My work with clients focuses on helping them, and their loved ones, interact in ways that accept, and even work with, the presence of their "old-self imperfections" without excusing or feeling shamed by undesired outcomes - and then take the next step toward their goals.
If you have felt God's "I Love You" message seem to bounce off of your ears and not get into your spirit because "perfection" thoughts will not be quiet, come visit us. Let us help you find your way to His Freedom!
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