Is Mental Illness a Spiritual Issue?

mentalillnessspiritualissue2

The question is complicated; my answer is too.

Yes and no.

As a Christian, I believe that basically everything is a spiritual issue because I believe in a sovereign God. My particular set of beliefs means that I believe that writing is a spiritual practice for me, that the food I eat represents my spiritual discipline, that my obsessive-compulsive disorder has a spiritual purpose (one that was hidden to me for many, many years) of refining me, showing me the beauty of freedom and the glory of grace. Because I am a spiritual person, all things are spiritual to me. There is no way that I can separate my OCD from my experience of Christ because it is so clearly evident to me the way that God has worked in my life through my mental illness, recovery from it, and subsequent advocacy. I would be a liar if I tried to tried to divorce these two items in my own head and heart and speech.

But I also believe that mental illness is an illness like any other. Just as I wouldn’t hyper-spiritualize someone’s fight with cancer or diabetes or even a common cold, so I wouldn’t approach mental illness as anything other than a medical illness. I wouldn’t assume that someone got pneumonia as a direct result of their sin … or that they were spiritually unfit … or that something demonic was going on. I feel the same way about OCD and other anxiety disorders. I feel no shame– spiritual or otherwise– over my OCD, just as I wouldn’t feel ashamed if I were to break a bone. (Granted, it’s taken me a long time to get to this point; a heaping side of shame comes quite standard with your plate of religious scrupulosity!)

So, do I pray about OCD? Yes, of course. But I pray about my headaches too.

I realize that this is a touchy subject for many people, and I hope that I’ve presented my thoughts in a balanced way. Because I believe that so many people would misinterpret my “yes,” I usually bellow out a resounding “no,” but in this post, I wanted to try to delineate my thoughts on each. I’d love to hear your thoughts and continue this conversation, and I hope that you’ll extend grace to me as I try to tiptoe through this minefield!

Related posts:
Unashamed
OCD, ERP, & Christianity
Why I Believe in God
God’s Sovereignty, OCD, the Cross, & His Purposes

Image credit: Unsplash, modified by me

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Is Mental Illness a Spiritual Issue?

  1. Pingback: Question & Dancer: What is “Normal” with OCD? | JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

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