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skyseeker

Needing Input For Using The Faith To "heal" Myself

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Hello,

 

I suffer from some bad mental health problems (schizophrenia, anxiety disorder and depression). I developed these problems in the same time that I was discovering the christian faith for myself.

 

I'm not sure about how much of this is illness and how much it is my personality, but basically I quickly began getting fearful impressions about God. I wanted to believe in a good Jesus who would guarantee an afterlife and who would accompany us into the future, but then I began reading the bible and I started to have many religious fears, ie is God maybe an evil oppressor, must I satisfy God before He loves me, is the severe mosaic law with all the death penalties for small sins really in the will of God, and so on.

 

I had these fears but I saw other christians living rather happy lives ... they were not always exulting with joy and also knew hardship and pain, but they seemed to be largely free of the fears that plagued me.

 

I began thinking of the faith as a means that would restore my mental health, and subjectively sometimes this meant success, although I must say that I never felt as mentally free and happy and normal again as I felt before I got the illness and delved into religion.

 

At this time I am a torn person. After years of thinking and seeking I am trying to live my christianity in the spirit of the french Taize community, ie I am ecumenical, I don't believe in hellfire doctrines, I am rather pacifistic and I try to live in God's love.

 

(http://www.taize.fr/en)

 

But while I put my faith in these things and in Christ, I am nevertheless usually unhappy. I am confused easily, have panic attacks that visit me, disturbing thoughts and emotions, I am depressed frequently and I can't ever seem to be as glad and mentally sound as I was before I got sick. And always my mental malady is mixed with fears of God.

 

Between 2003 and 2006 I enjoyed three years of mental wellbeing, I felt like before I became religious and had pretty much no issues. But in that time I didn't engage in christianity anymore and had distanced myself from the bible. 2006 I started with the faith again and after a short time had the same issues again that I couldn't shake.

 

What would you do in my situation?

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I would be in relationship with someone who could help me sort out the good, the bad, and the ugly in my thoughts and perceptions. That would never be someone who wants to correct me with scripture. Scripture is valuable when it lifts us up.

 

Second, I never stop taking my bipolar meds.

 

Third, I try to breathe and self talk through anxieties so that they don't turn into paranoia. Sometimes it is a word from another person that bursts the bubble of anxiety in which I am encased.

 

Fourth, I might think on Jesus's encounters with troubled people and what they show about his love for any of us beset by our thoughts and perceptions.

 

Fifth, I would have a vision of who I want to be and what I want my world to look like. Filter these thoughts through someone else's realistic views. And then ask myself what little thing can I do right now to move toward this new world.

 

If you are inclined you might try art. Great art has come from the hands of schizophrenics.

 

Yours is a tough journey.

 

Bipolar and anxious,

 

Dutch

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I would stay far away from any laying on of hands praying for healing. A friend, with his schizophrenia under control, spent a month in an institution after that expereince. People can express their care for you by praying privately for your healing but not publically like that.

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"God helps" me when I practice centering prayer or meditation without rational thought. A stilling of the mind. Sometimes in this stillness the next right action breaks in; sometimes it doesn't. Neither experience is more important than the other. Stillness has no goal. Art music dance - think sufi - all create a non-rational and no-time space for experiencing the divine.

 

Some of these practices may work more or less well with your diagnosis. Ask for advice.

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Skyseeker,

 

I'd definitely recommend that you talk to professionals in this area such as your Doctor and/or a psychologist. Your conditions can be helped to a degree by your own thought process, but often your brain just isn't up to it. I've heard the analogy before that with anxiety, your mind is like a car and seratonin is the brake pedal. Your mind races and races with anxiety and issues and your brake pedal is pumping and pumping, until there is nothing left to pump. That's when you need meds to help. I really hope you are onto this or will see somebody.

 

As for an angry God - no such God exists. People who explain the actions of a violent God as 'justice', have no understanding of what true justice is. Mitigating factors play a part in every crime - and if there is a God that sees all and understands us, that God will accept you for who you are, bad bits and all. He will know the mitigating factors in your life.

 

In my opinion, Christianity can really screw your head even of you don't suffer mental health problems! The Jesus I see in the bible is a kind person that tries to hep others, and seeks social justice. I think emulating Jesus is what Christianity is all about, not simply making yourself believe certain doctrines.

 

The only other thing I can say is keep reminding yourself that you will get through this, everything will be alright someday. When you are feeling your worst, try to remind yourself that this is a logical, medical process. Your brain is lacking some chemical that other people's are not, and that is the only reason your brain is playing with your head so to speak.

 

All the best

Paul

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Between 2003 and 2006 I enjoyed three years of mental wellbeing, I felt like before I became religious and had pretty much no issues. But in that time I didn't engage in christianity anymore and had distanced myself from the bible. 2006 I started with the faith again and after a short time had the same issues again that I couldn't shake.

 

What would you do in my situation?

 

Perhaps i would consider again giving up religion if you feel it is contributing to such issues, One can love and find peace without an organized religion which to my thinking is mostly man-made and in my own experience often at the root of some problems.

 

My love goes out to you at this trying time, May you find comfort in that you are among friends who accept you as you are, not alone in this,.and that others here have had similar issues and worked through it.

Joseph

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Hi dutch,

 

thank you for your kind advices. I find them very reasonable and would like to take them to heart.

 

Before I became a christian I was very independent. I found happiness in being on my own. I already honored Jesus then, but my image of Jesus was that of a kind of anti-hero that preached love and forgiveness, not "righteousness" and punishment.

 

Do you think it's possible to regard the Pauline and other scriptures as imperfect? Sometimes I think my time in biblical christianity really messed me up. That there are better ethics and better philosophies of life to be found outside of the bible. But during my time in biblical christianity it's like I got brainwashed. Doctrines like the hellfire punishments or the idea that human law must include death penalties and all that, they really freak me out but if I just read the bible exegetically the ideas make sense. But I can't forget the tenderness with which I thought before I became a christian.

 

For example, I was sure that Jesus saved all men. That there is no point in nationalism or right wing policies. I was so sure of that. Now I so easily loose hope for muslims. I used to have no issues at all with gays, now I always hear these Pauline words that gays are perverts, or the voice of the mosaic code according to which they are abominable.

 

But how can I see the kind and forgiving Jesus if I must start with the law? And if God is not a friend of the mosaic law, why did He institute it to begin with? I love the 10 commandments, they are good for society building. I also enjoy the 2 love commandments, the festivals and the religious feasts like the leaf hut feast and others. But the harsh death penalties for sinners, they really freak me out. But I can't shake the thought that God wants them.

 

So I feel like being pushed into the rebel's corner. I don't want to be there. I want to live in love with God. But I don't know if that's even possible... it's so tiring. The only light I have is the Taize stuff, it's so peaceful and it feels like they know what holiness is...

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Skyseeker, I hope you don't mind me offering up a couple of thoughts here; I only do so because I've walked a similar path.

 

The way that I (and many progressives) see the scriptures is that the Bible is not a book written by God. It is, rather, a collection of books written by different authors at different times about their experiences with and interpretations of God. If this is true (and I find it reasonable to think so), then, yes, it is possible, and perhaps necessary, to see some parts of scripture as giving us less than perfect understandings of God. We do have the freedom to disagree with Moses and Joshua that God, if he is love, would command genocide. We have the freedom to disagree with Paul that women should be silent in the church, or that government is God-ordained, or that slavery is okay. We have the freedom to agree with Paul and say that he saw through a glass darkly and was not right about homosexuals and their stance with God. This is not easy to do because much of Christianity teaches that you have to believe ALL of the Bible or NONE of it. Who says? Didn't Jesus counter some of the OT teachings? Didn't God show the apostle Peter that, countering the holiness codes of the OT, God accepts Gentiles?

 

And for that matter, Jesus never started or taught Christianity. Christianity is (my opinion only) a religion about worshipping Jesus as God. It doesn't necessarily follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is often, as you have pointed out, more about following all of the Bible or putting Paul over Jesus. Jesus becomes little more than a human sacrifice to appease an angry God, and that is not what Jesus taught us. Jesus taught that God is compassionate, that God welcomes ALL. He taught that the Mosaic code really came down to loving God and loving others. So I'm leary of those who want the 10 Commandments posted everywhere and as a basis for a system of government, knowing that the punishment for breaking those commandments is death. Jesus said that what God wants is compassion and justice (which is the social form of compassion).

 

You are in my thoughts and prayers, Skyseeker. There is some good advice in this thread for you. I have nothing to add to that from a practicical viewpoint. I would just encourage you to consider that Jesus never taught "biblical Christianity" or the inerrancy and infallibility of the scriptures, etc. He taught and lived loving God by loving those around him.

 

If you are into reading, I recommend "The Heart of Christianity" by Marcus Borg. He does a good job, IMO, in reminding us what Jesus was all about and how following him is about love, not about sin and punishment.

 

BillM

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Dear Skyseeker:

 

I was surprised to see this thread, because I also suffer from schizophrenia, though I wasn't planning on admiting it here. And I also have fears about God persecuting me and hating me. But I have decided that I don't believe in following scripture. Instead, I follow ideals of love and mercy that are generally espoused by modern enlightened people, like the ones on this forum. I try to think of all the words and qualities that would describe a good God:

 

love, forgiveness, mercy, truth, justice, kindness, helping others, not being deceitful, fairness

 

and so on. I try to meditate on those words, and find ways to make them a part of my life every day. I find that the best defense against fear and paranoia is to seek out others who share this outlook, and celebrate the opportunity we share to be good to others every day. I try to make other people feel good about themselves, and I try to do something concrete to help them... like maybe working in the soup line or for some other charity. It is that brotherhood that calms me and comforts me. Sometimes I have to overlook the hellfire. For example, one soup line I work for is run by fundamentalist Christians who preach the hellfire. I just ignore it, and focus on the brotherhood of helping hungry people. Or I come here and talk to people like you.

 

I want you to know that I care about you skyseeker, and I hope you know that you can always find a friend in me here and in others here to share your fears and your worries. I will say a prayer for you today!

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Dear Skyseeker:

 

I was surprised to see this thread, because I also suffer from schizophrenia, though I wasn't planning on admiting it here. And I also have fears about God persecuting me and hating me. But I have decided that I don't believe in following scripture. Instead, I follow ideals of love and mercy that are generally espoused by modern enlightened people, like the ones on this forum. I try to think of all the words and qualities that would describe a good God:

 

love, forgiveness, mercy, truth, justice, kindness, helping others, not being deceitful, fairness

 

and so on. I try to meditate on those words, and find ways to make them a part of my life every day. I find that the best defense against fear and paranoia is to seek out others who share this outlook, and celebrate the opportunity we share to be good to others every day. I try to make other people feel good about themselves, and I try to do something concrete to help them... like maybe working in the soup line or for some other charity. It is that brotherhood that calms me and comforts me. Sometimes I have to overlook the hellfire. For example, one soup line I work for is run by fundamentalist Christians who preach the hellfire. I just ignore it, and focus on the brotherhood of helping hungry people. Or I come here and talk to people like you.

 

I want you to know that I care about you skyseeker, and I hope you know that you can always find a friend in me here and in others here to share your fears and your worries. I will say a prayer for you today!

 

I think that is a wonderful approach to God/life Stopman, and makes the most sense to me in light of the message and actions attributed to Jesus, especially against the background of so much misinformation and biased storytelling from authors thousands of years ago.

 

All of those attributes of God you highlight (love, forgiveness, mercy, truth, justice, kindness, helping others, not being deceitful, fairness) are the opposite of what a hellfire God stands for and, in my opinion, points to the way things should be in the Kingdon of God and not how some species of Christians would insist they actually are.

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Perhaps i would consider again giving up religion if you feel it is contributing to such issues, One can love and find peace without an organized religion which to my thinking is mostly man-made and in my own experience often at the root of some problems.

 

Putting aside any thoughts of adhering to a religion may indeed help.

 

Meditaton may be of some help. There are two forms of Christian meditation that I am aware of:

- Christian Meditation as revitalized by John Main and continued by Laurence Freeman

- Centering Prayer of Thomas Keating and Cynthia Bourgeault

Caution: Meditation may exacerbate your problems instead of helping so please consult with a health care professional first!

Edited by Monty

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Guest imeaganfox

Even we don't see sometimes the work of God, let's still have faith in Him whatever situation we face. In the name of Jesus, he will heal you, read the story of the bleeding woman, Jesus healed her disease by her faith. So let just have faith and he will heal your pain.

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Even we don't see sometimes the work of God, let's still have faith in Him whatever situation we face. In the name of Jesus, he will heal you, read the story of the bleeding woman, Jesus healed her disease by her faith. So let just have faith and he will heal your pain.

 

What do you make of a situation where Jesus doesn't do the healing?

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Imeaganfox's IP is on a banned spam forum's list from the Philippines and will not be responding. as their account is now deleted.

 

JosephM (as Admin)

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Though this is a couple of months old I wanted to share a little of myself here.

 

I have recently posted a similar thread. I have OCD and Depression. I've already put my fears down so I will not do that here, but they are very similar to yours.

 

I am currently using ACT (acceptance and commitment) therapy to counter my OCD and it has been progressing fairly well. ACT uses mindfulness as a therapeutic tool which I am told is a type of meditation but can be used (with practice) at any time during your day.

 

Mindfulness is essentially deliberately bringing yourself into the present moment and experiencing your feelings (and thoughts) as they come to pass in a non judgemental way. It takes practice, but was a great relief for me.

 

I am told mindfulness can have a significant effect on schizophrenia. So it might be worth talking to a therapist about (most have not heard of ACT, but have heard of mindfullness)

 

Good luck and God Bless

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Though this is a couple of months old I wanted to share a little of myself here.

 

I have recently posted a similar thread. I have OCD and Depression. I've already put my fears down so I will not do that here, but they are very similar to yours.

 

I am currently using ACT (acceptance and commitment) therapy to counter my OCD and it has been progressing fairly well. ACT uses mindfulness as a therapeutic tool which I am told is a type of meditation but can be used (with practice) at any time during your day.

 

Mindfulness is essentially deliberately bringing yourself into the present moment and experiencing your feelings (and thoughts) as they come to pass in a non judgemental way. It takes practice, but was a great relief for me.

 

I am told mindfulness can have a significant effect on schizophrenia. So it might be worth talking to a therapist about (most have not heard of ACT, but have heard of mindfullness)

 

Good luck and God Bless

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People say God created man after himself, but I think we create God after ourselves. The God we see is our mental projection. If we change our thoughts slowly day by day and with help, I feel we can change our beliefs.

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