Welcome to Mental Notes for the Church. My name is Thomas Montgomery. Does that sound cheesy enough for an introductory post?
Before I even purchased the domain name for this site, I sat and wondered if the world really needs another blog. Especially one where we are talking about the Church and mental health. And yet, in my experience, this is just the thing we need to be talking about.
Maybe a part of my own phenomenological experience can help. I have struggled with anxiety for a long time. I have heard everything from, “You need to have more faith,” to “You should pray more about it,” to “God never gives us more than we can handle.” These are shallow and pejorative platitudes that do not help any person, believer or unbeliever, work through whatever issue they are struggling with. I have real, legitimate, diagnosed Obsessive compulsive disorder. I’m sure I’ve struggled with it for several years, but was diagnosed in the latter part of 2015. Believe me, I prayed for God to take away the struggle and symptoms I was experiencing. But, here’s the thing…God didn’t take the symptoms away. God didn’t take the struggle away.
So, how does the Church respond when a pastor and teacher has OCD? How does the Church handle mental illness? What are we supposed to say? Do we offer up short, encouraging words? Or attempt an exorcism? Or offer help, support, and community to the one who is broken and struggling?
I was fortunate. I had an amazing community, therapist, and physician who helped me along the way during my diagnosis. I was able to lay my cards on the table and ask for help. My friends carried me when I was weak and led me to the cross and reminded me of God’s faithfulness through the entire journey.
That’s the point of this website. How do we respond to mental illness? How do we encourage one another and walk with each other through the crap that life throws at us? I hope this can be a place where we will all learn more about how we respond to mental illness in the Church and how we can better love one another.
I do hope to discuss topics concerning our response to mental illness, various types of mental illness we will encounter in the Church, and understanding the need for community through these journeys in life. Maybe even dive into the topic of demonic possession versus some types of mental illness (yes, there are those who deny one or the other on both sides. I happen to believe in both).
I know there are going to be people who disagree with conclusions that I come to and write out on this site…and that’s okay. We are allowed to disagree. My hope is to have a thoughtful and Christ-centered discussion about this all-too-real issue. I don’t claim to know everything about mental illness…I simply want to offer a place to have a discussion and learn together.