Gettin Religious on ya

July 28, 2009 at 3:32 am (Uncategorized)

Becoming mentally ill is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me – single-handedly killing my independence, many relationships, and sucking away my ability to feel happiness even when things are going well – but it’s also the best. Being mentally ill stopped me moving permanently to Indonesia as a volunteer aid worker. I think that’s wonderful.


I hold to the theory that God often uses sickness to either slow down his humans or communicate something we’re particularly thick at grasping. This is definitely one of those times – becoming mentally ill was, I think, the equivalent of six-foot neon lights in the heavens spelling out, “YOU ARE NOT CALLED TO INDONESIA. DO NOT GO.”

Which is great, since I think I mostly wanted to go to prove myself “worthwhile” (who me? Issues?) But it’s also kind of. . . rude. I was willing to lay down my life – literally if necessary – and God said NO?!? Doesn’t he want my help?

Yep, contrariness. I know. But it hurts all the same. It also hurts that I’ve GOT the no-go message by now but I’m still suffering. I feel like God’s useless cousin – he doesn’t hate me, but I don’t help him in any way, so he just leaves me miserably sitting in the corner.

A few days ago my husband and I were reading the Bible (but no! but yes!) and he blithely read (from John chapter nine, NIV):

As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither the man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”


This exploded inside my head.

Blindness then was similar to mental illness now – it’s socially disastrous, and leaves you completely dependent on others. This guy was blind from birth – that’s a long time and a lot of suffering. But Jesus clearly states here that it’s no-one’s fault, and that there IS a purpose after all.

In this context, the guy is healed and there’s a furore (the blind guy is deeply sarcastic and the chapter is very funny) and a great Bible story as a result. I suspect I’ll never truly recover from my illness (we’ll see!) but the idea of illness/suffering serving a purpose for God is enough for me to feel less ashamed.

Dunno what the purpose of my ongoing illness IS, and I certainly wouldn’t have chosen this life for myself, but I was willing to risk getting martyred for God, so this is nothin’.

Helping package food for refugees after an earthquake

Helping package food for refugees after an earthquake



  1. Ann said,

    In some ways I envy you your ability to take comfort from your faith that god has a purpose. Personally, I dont think its that well planned…….. ‘the luck of the draw’ so to speak…….

    But I’m glad that you have that, I cant imagine how totally screwed up I would be in your place given my own lack of faith.

  2. Fel said,

    If – as I think – we are designed to function only when linked to God, then perhaps you’re right (about your screwed-up-ness in bad times).

    However, I think you are much stronger than you claim. Particularly since I’ve seen you go through some less-than-brilliant times.


  3. Ann said,

    I dont claim lack of strength, merely lack of acceptance. I rail against things, strike out at those around me and feel impotent. I think it would be nice to be able to accept it as a challenge with a purpose rather than an obstacle, or coincidence or random circumstance that just landed on me……..

    That said, I am largely comfortable with my lack of faith, its an objective observation that those that have it seem to have a level of peace that I doubt I will ever achieve. I have fighting blood so i continue to battle the ‘less-than-brilliant’ because I believe that life is ultimately what WE make it and therefore I have to fight to make it better.

    (Does that make sense to anyone other than me????)


  4. Kevin said,

    Well I’ve not faced anything as that. However I agree with your basic premise. God has a reason for the things that happen. He intends to use us as messages. Just most people are too blind to accept the big plan and therefore miss the message. I think your on the right path and I may not be the most religious person I will pray for you.

  5. Ben (Crispin) said,

    To be honest, I think that faith is counterproductive in this area.
    The bumperstickers are true – shit happens, and when it happens to the religious, they are generally not helped by believing that the unpleasantness was ‘The Will of God’ and ‘Happened for a Reason’.
    It wasn’t the will of god and didn’t happen for a reason. It was just a stupid, painful thing that happened and that you’ll have to learn to live with. That’s life.

  6. felicitybloomfield said,

    I think being a Christian is easier (companionship with God, sense of going somewhere even if we don’t know much about either journey or destination), but it does mean having to deal with the fact that our all-powerful friend is choosing to let us go through whatever-it-is. So there’s an extra level of pain.

  7. Lorijo said,

    this was a painfully beautiful story. and i’m so excited to have found you!

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