Tag Archives: Religion

Currently – May 2016

I have seen people, particularly lifestyle bloggers, post a monthly Currently post before. This is a post in which you answer some prompts about what you’re currently up to. Today, I am embarking on the journey too. There are many variations on the theme. I chose to link up with the Currently linky provided by Anne of in residence and Jenna of Gold and Bloom.

Celebrating

It’s liberation day in the Netherlands today. The celebration started after World War II ended for the Netherlands on May 5, 1945. It is also the feast of the ascension of Jesus today. Ironically, though liberation day is much more important than Jesus’ ascension to the Dutch, even to many Christians, it’s a bank holiday because of the ascension. Liberation day only is a bank holiday once every five years. Quite odd if you ask me. I say this even as a progressive Jesus follower, but I want to point out that without liberty many people would not be able to express their faiths.

Official celebrations aside, we celebrated my mother’s and sister’s birthdays last Saturday. My mother’s birthday was on April 28th. My sistehr’s is the 13th of May. Yes, it’s a Friday the 13th this year and no, that’s not a bad omen. My sister was born on Friday the 13th, in fact.

Reading

Lots of blogs. After the April A to Z Challenge is over, I’m surprisingly motivated to read a variety of blogs. I was hardly motivated to check out other participants during the challenge, but now I’m again interested in reading other blogs.

Book-wise, a few new books are coming out this month that I’d love to read. I badly want to read The Genome Generation by Steven M. Lipkin and Jon Luoma, but it isn’t even out in hardcover yet. I saw it up for pre-order months ago on Kobo, but now the idea of an eBook publication seems to have vanished. Consumed, the new book by Abbie Rushton, is out as an eBOok and I badly want to get it. However, I’m not finished reading The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork yet and want to read that first.

Pondering

I just discovered Philosophy Experiments, a site full of philosophical games and challenges. I am in pretty good philosophical health according to the Philosophical Health Check. It found only one tension in my beliefs. I also made it through Battleground God with just one direct hit.

Sipping

Coffee, mostly. Oh, and a yucky type of fiber that I got prescribed to help with my chronic constipation. I can’t get used to it.

Going

I went to my parents’ on Saturday, like I said. This was jsut a day trip, as my father is doing construction on the upper floor, where we usually sleep.

This month, I’m not going anywhere, except to my and my husband’s home. I’m there right now because of the bank holiday and also because I had a meeting yesterday. I met with an independent client advocate, who’s going to help me through the process of getting care funding for once I’m living with my husband.

What have you been up to lately?

Faith and Mental Illness #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to day 11 in the #Write31Days blogging challenge. I went to church today for the first time in a long while. There’s a church on institution grounds here, but I can’t walk there alone from my unit and the staff don’t always have time to take me. There’s someone who drives people to church, but for whatever reason they’ve limited this service to people of the elder units. We reached an agreement with the pastors that, if the staff took me one way, I would be driven back. This way, if the staff are not too busy around the time church starts at 10:30, I can go to church. Sometiems though, I’m just too lazy.

I say th is all because today I want to talk about faith and mental health. I originally inteded to write a boring, informative post on personality disorders again, but they take a lot of effort and aren’t always appreciated. So I’m going to talk faith.

I was raised atheist and didn’t become interested in faith until I was around eighteen. At first, it was just curiosity. I didn’t start feeling God’s presence till I was about 25.

At this point, I define myself as a progressive Jesus follower. I have not (yet) been baptized and hence don’t take all of the traditions of Christianity all that seriously. I try to focus on the positive part of Christianity, ie. the idea that God through Jesus Christ helps me be a better human and reach eternal life. As the pastor said in church today, eternal life in the Biblical sense does not refer specifically to entry to Heaven, but more to a fulfilling life in the here and now as well as in the afterlife.

I haven’t always focused on the positive. Here is where my mental illness comes into play. After all, you were probably wondering why I write this post for #Write31Days. Well, when I was still in a pretty dark place when on the acute ward, my faith, which was still too fresh to be called a faith, stood in the way of my havng a positive outlook. I was pretty sure God was punishing me for my childhood behavior problems with this state of depression.

Though some churches believe in a punitive God, most have abandoned this idea. Even so, many mentally ill people start experiencing their faith backfiring. Some churches still endorse this idea. After all, there’s still a lot of stigma associated with mental illness and even non-relgious people still sometimes believe it’s the sufferer’s own fault for having a bad attitude.

In the Netherlands, most mental health agencies employ pastors and other spiritual counselors to help patients find the answers to life’s important questions. Pastors and spiritual counselors reach out to people rgardless of their faith. For example, one of my husband’s family members, himself atheist, found relief in knowing a pastor would at least talk to him when he was in a hospital. I originally found the same. I started talking to the institution pastor in early 2010, before I’d declared myself a progressive Jesus follower. Even now that I do feel God’s presence, I don’t always talk faith with the institution pastor. Sometimes, I talk other life issues, but sometimes, I just talk over how life is going in general. Sometimes, I still discuss my occasional struggles with the idea of a punitive God.

As I said, many mentally ill people find their mental illness impacts their faith and vice versa. Some have religious experiences many people consider delusional. Some feel, like myself sometimes, that God is punishing them or that they are possessed. Some find their faith helps them fight their mental illness. I hope that more people find themselves on the latter path.

Honesty

I have a confession to make. I often hide my real opinions in order to “fit in” with a community. Particularly my faith-based posts have been polished to suit a conservative Christian audience, even though I am not that conservative at all. Not that my faith-based posts are popular – they’re among my least popular posts -, so I don’t need to do this for readership either. I’m no longer going to polish my opinions to suit any particular audience.

With faith in particular, I believe it’s God’s job to judge people, not people’s. Just because Christianity is the largest religion in the world, and just because conservative Christians are the most vocal on the Internet, doesn’t mean they own the truth. God owns the truth.

Besides, God knows my heart. If He is going to condemn me for opposing corporal punishment or supporting LGBT rights, He’s going to condemn me more for being a coward and concealing my real opinions on my blog. I could use the fact that I did not fully understand the meaning of the English word “paddling” as an excuse for last Thursday’s post, but I won’t. I have always firmly opposed even spanking, and I’m not giving up my right to this opinion.

I know I have a tendency to try to fit my beliefs, and quite frankly any otehr part of my identity, into a particular mold, to use concrete, tangible terms to describe myself. This has led me to try to fit in with, for example, the Christian community. I have in fact been somewhat active on forums that explicitly prohibit “promoting” homosexuality. This is not only doing a disservice to the LGBT people I support and the LGBT community at large, but also doing a disservice to the real me.

I believe in God. I consider the Bible an important source of inspiration, but so do I other spiritual texts. People can think they are sure that the Christian faith, or their particular version of it, is the only rihgt way to God. I am too skeptical to be sure of this. Only God knows. And if people are going to kick me off their forums or out of their Facebook groups or going to prevent me from linking up with their linkies because of my particular beliefs, so be it. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel sad. I do have a deep longing to belong, to be approved and to gain recognition. I probably need to work on coping with this need. I need to stop wanting to be a real anything other than myself.