Mental Illness and Church Leadership- Responding to Dale Partridge

Recently, a pastor by the name of Jarrid Wilson committed suicide. Admittedly I knew of his name until I saw a post on social media that spoke of this tragic event. As a phycology major, a lover of the mind and as one of has a soft spot in his heart for people who suffer with the beast of depression. My heart ached. It ached even more, when I saw a blog from the Christian post that had as a headline:

People struggling With Mental Illness Shouldn’t Be In Church Leadership https://www.christianpost.com/news/people-struggling-with-mental-illness-shouldnt-be-in-church-leadership-jarrid-wilsons-friend-says.html?fbclid=IwAR3cW6bcPkMpaFWqxE1q6AypIFoYXPI2SUkROzOxx1_thJgcORpCuD0o_po

Now to be fair, I can see the authors intent, pastors are very often over worked, hardly ever get any time off and tend to be everyone’s go to when they have a problem. However, it is extremely troubling to me to say  that it is “reckless” and “unbiblical” for churches to put someone in a position of leadership, if they are having struggles with mental illness or doubt.

Okay, I can kind of see the doubt part. But to say that people who struggle with mental illness shouldn’t be in church leadership, is in its self a very stupid and ignorant thing to say. That would eliminate a huge majority of the Christian community serving the body of Christ.

            Moreover the passages used to support the authors position are 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, The author focuses on the concept of being “sober minded” as its states in 1 Timothy 3, along with self- controlled. There in a huge danger, I believe in applying these passages to people who suffer with mental illness. Because we first have to have a clear understanding of what “sober minded” actually is in this context. If we are talking about someone that is still on the recovery road due to recovery, okay I can deal with that. If we are talking about someone who isn’t very rooted in their faith, and is easily influenced by others, I can see that too.

Sober minded and dealing with a chemical imbalance is something utterly different, yes, depression can sometimes can get very dark, and we can lose our way. But to say that a person is not sober minded is a grave insult. I think that a person can depressed, and be sober minded in that they cling to Christ like a weighted blanket rests on the body. Those of us who suffer, might need a gentle reminder of who we are in Christ. But to suggest that it is automatically removes us from church leadership is dangerous and unrealistic. Think about the amount of people that have anxiety, or having a rough day and their thoughts are not the best. OOPS! I guess there goes their ability to serve Gods people!

            …. And for the record, have we ever thought about how Jesus himself might respond to this? Have we even considered all the problems his own disciples had? Let me tell you, they were many. I don’t ever recall Jesus saying “Hey Peter, you got too many problems, you can’t be my disciple anymore!” Nor, did he ever say to Thomas “Gee Thomas, I can’t accept you for your doubts, good bye!”

So what gives some Christians today, the right to act differently? Jesus didn’t give his disciples the boot right away, why should we? Now, I firmly believe that there is reason, as to why a fellow believer wouldn’t be inclined to a position of leadership within the church. And I don’t think that mental illness is one of them. We very well need  to institute better care for our pastors, but simply disqualifying then is utter nonsense. If you’re a Christian and struggle with mental illness in any form. It’s okay to talk about it, you are not weak or less then because your battle is different than the next person. Having this struggle does not in any way negate how the Father see’s you in his son Jesus.          

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The More Thoughtful Christian (Listen more- talk less)

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. -James 1:9, NET Bible Translation

I will never forget the day, the grace of God crashed into my life, turning my life upside down for the better. At that moment, everything was about was different. Christ had won me over with his affectionate calling. No, I don’t believe that I chose him, but rather he melted my heart to the point where I could only joyfully give him all that I was. There was a fire inside me, a smile glued to myself. There was a high in my soul that was much better than any drug.
I was a zealot, who wanted everyone to know about his grace. Guess what, I still do. But to be honest, a lot has changed in my heart (or so I believe). When I attended my first Bible college, we were given assignments of going out on the town and tell people about Jesus. At the time, I was on a huge Jesus high, that I just wanted to tell people about how God changed me. Which isn’t wrong, but I wish that I knew how to control my zeal enough, to actually take the time to listen to people. Truly listen to them, get to know them as a fellow image bearer. It almost makes me think to think that, we as Christians shove Jesus in people’s faces, as though they are some sort of check mark on our spiritual to do lost.
I am also aware that, not every interaction is going to be a full blown conversation. But I strongly believe we can do more than simply say “I’ll pray for you” which we almost never do. We as believers could be a lot more thoughtful in our responses to people, rather than pulling out a platitude that we heard in church. In other words, we followers of Christ could use a dose or two of compassion and understanding. Have we not read how Jesus interacted with people? Consider the woman at the well (John 4:5-42), he (Jesus) actually engages with this woman, he listens to her. He didn’t shy away from telling her the truth about herself or how she was living, but he did far more than give her a sermon on purity. Or shame her for how she had been living. I’m sure she already felt quite guilty and shame filled already. Yet in a calm, grace filled way, he tells her that he is the thirst quencher that her soul has always longed for that no man could ever satisfy. O that we Christians, would learn to close our mouths, and learn to pray and ponder our responses to this dying world. I think so many of us want to get mad at other people, who aren’t like us. When we really are better served seeking to understand where people are at first. Remember, we are the salt and light of the world my friends. We have the spirits power in us, which means we can go into the world and really bring the fight to the darkness.
Be slower in your responses, even to the people in your life that are dealing with their own hardship. Don’t simply throw your favorite bible verse at them, because you think that we actually fix their pain, because it doesn’t. There is a huge difference between putting a quick Band-Aid over a wound and actually walking with someone toward the way the truth and the life. We go to church on Sundays, and we all get pumped up on team Jesus. But then we realize that life is a real thing, and it’ll slap us right in the face again. I think that rather than simply being pumped for Jesus, we ought to learn how to become more grounded in our faith, like that of a tree. So that when life does beat us up, and it will. We will be able to endure the chaos of everyday life better, as opposed to being crushed by a single blow. When we are more grounded in our faith and more thoughtful in our responses, slower to speak and quicker to pray. We will be better for the world around us.

The Spiritual Side of Fasting

Fasting is the new thing in the health and fitness. People are either doing intermittent fasting , prolonged fasting or even dry fasting. Which means no water at all. As I mentioned in a previous entry, intermittent fasting is something that I have been practicing for several months now.

And to be honest with you, I love it! I typically eat between 7 AM and stop somewhere before 4PM. And don’t eat until the next morning. Plenty of water is consumed in between, on average I’m pulling anywhere between 16-20 hours. The longest I have fasted is a full 24.

The health benefits of I.F. for me, have been improved mood, gut health, better sleep, much less joint pain, more energy and so on. And again, I love this practice, but what some people don’t realize, is that the practice of fasting is nothing new. Ancient religions have been practicing fasting for thousands of years. Though in many religions, fasting is typically dry.

One of the biggest components when it comes to fasting, particularly in the Christian tradition. Is to bring us back to the understanding that we are not sufficient in and of ourselves. But that God is all sufficient for his people. What happens for in my own fasting and spiritual practice, is that everything comes to the surface for me. Meaning that all the areas that I know I need to improve, things I need to deal with and or repent of come floating up.

It’s as though, fasting is the water that brings things to surface, when we humans try to drowned them out. Fasting lets me know that I am not as in control as I allow myself to believe. It allows me the understanding, that I haven’t arrived and have a long way to go. It beckons to utter the words, “Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner”.

I highly encourage a lot of people to fast, especially for the reasons mentioned above. Start slow and work your way into longer windows of fasting. The health benefits are great, but know that there’re deeper, more satisfying reasons to fast if you’re willing to give it a shot.

I really Want To Go Strict Carnivore!

I really love steak! I really. Really. Love steak. Always have-always will love steak. Not simply because it tastes amazing, but because of how it makes my body feel. As a kid, I hated eating my greens. My parents would all but force me, the meat on my plate would often go first. That or the carbs on my plate.

Typically I eat half a pound a steak every morning, and if I’m hungry I’ll have a nice piece of fish. That’s my food window for the day, then my intermittent fasting kicks in with plenty of water and tpically don’t eat until the next morning.

So what’s stopping me?

Well, I still live at home and live in a family where, sometimes I have to eat what’s in front of me. Which is typically a lot of asian food with a lot of carbs. Typically when I eat whats in front of me, I often feel sluggish, tired and my joint pain spikes up immensely.

Yet, when I eat a lot of steak and eggs, fish and cut our carbs and sugar. My body feels amazing and I have less depression, more energy and my joint pain is much less. I have read countless articles and listened to many stories of how the carnivore based approach has changed peoples lives.

I understand the carnivore approach is still so taboo, but I truly believe that there is more to the carnivore approach. If it helps put auto immune disorders, depression and so much more into remission, I strongly believe that we ought to pay more attention to this. I’m not saying you can’t eat your carbs or have your greens.

I’m only stating that as a society, we have been lied to for so long about red meat. And what we actually need to thrive as human beings. I would like to try it for 30 days straight, in the name of seeing what this does for my body.

The Importance of Situational Awareness

When it comes to self-protection, one of the greatest tools a person can get really good at using is situational awareness. Personally, I see situational awareness in two specific categories. The first is knowing thy self and two it’s knowing where you are at and what’s going on around you.
Knowing thy self comes down to the simple things, such as knowing your strengths and weakness. Knowing what makes you uncomfortable and so on. For example, I know that I am a left handed person, as such I know that most attacks will come from a right handed person. There’re, I need position myself in a posture that allows me to shield with my left side, should I need to defend myself.
Moreover, I know that walking far with my crutches or wheeling myself long distances with my push chair, often takes a lot out of me. So positioning myself near an exit should something happen is most preferred. This should be set in place for things like a fire breaking out and even an active killer situation. Again, knowing yourself, in all your strengths and weaknesses and having plans in place, will put you on a greater path toward personal well-being and safety. Next, in knowing your surroundings, knowing where you are at, knowing where your exits are in case of emergencies is crucial. But even more so, listening to what your gut tells you. More often than not, before something bad happens a person typically gets a bed feeling inside them.
Sadly though, this bad feeling that we get in our stomachs is often ignored. If a person keeps you an off feeling, or better yet the creeps. Listen to it, because that feeling is there to protect you. If a certain area you are in does not make you feel safe or looks sketchy, pay attention to that feeling. I would rather be wrong about a certain place or person at times, than put my own self in jeopardy. Most violent encounters can be avoided by early detection and over all avoidance. Now, this doesn’t mean don’t go out and have fun, but it means being aware. Scanning your environment, looking for things that look out of the ordinary, scanning for people that look like potential threats etc. I’m not implying that everyone be paranoid, but I am saying to be smart and use wisdom when out in public. Especially if you’re a person who has a disability. Other ways to improve your personal safety, is putting down your cell phone once in a while and paying attention to what’s going on around you.
I’m just as guilty, but we could all do better at this. Even if it’s in the name of building better quality relationships. Within the self- defense/protection industry, some say that we should maintain a 360 degree sense of awareness. I however believe that’s impossible and even impractical. For the simple reason that you can’t always maintain a 360 degree of awareness, especially if you are talking to someone in front of you. What I feel is better, and much more attainable, is to get a snap shot in your mind of where things and people are. This is far more of an easier practice. Lastly, always go out with friends you trust. Get them involved in formality plans that can help add to your personal safety. This includes all that is mentioned above, as well as even learning how defend a person that isn’t quite able to defend themselves as readily.
With this my hope is to make you safer, and to open your eyes as to why your safety matters. It’s up to you now, as an individual to choose your own safety every single day. For yourself and your loved ones. In my next blog, I will discuss how and why we should carry impact weapons on our person.

We Adapt. Or We Die.

I don’t believe that having a disability is a means to completely stop a person, from leading a great life. Be it mentally, physically or spiritually. I don’t. Sharing my story is something I do all the time. And if you know anything about me, you will know that I have had the deck stacked against me since day one.

Perhaps it’s because I had parents that pushed me in the direction that I am now, I’ve been at the bottom. For awhile I listened to all the negative crap that people spoke into my life. I let the words of people barrie me deep- in a pit of nonsense.

Again, if it wasn’t for my family pushing me to be more. I’m positive in knowing that I would still be in the hopeless place. I feel as though its my mission in life to tell people (especially those with disabilities). That they can be more, they don’t always have to listen to doctors, teachers or feel entrapped by their own disability.

For years, I hated my body, I didn’t think that my mind or body could improve. Yes, I will always have CP, but no it will not keep me from being the strongest and healthiest that I possibly can be. Yes, I still may have bouts with depression and anxiety but I will always rise.

Make the most of what you have. Work with what you got.

If you can only lift a certain about of weight, with one side of your body. That’s fine. If one side of your body is stronger, I can deal with that. If you don’t have much mobility in your lower body, there are ways to adapt to the context in which you find yourself. But staying in a mindset in which there is no growth: Mentally, physically or spiritually is equal to death.

Because if we do not choose to allow ourselves to grow, every single day. We will die without every really knowing who we are. We adapt. Or we die.