None of us thought it was okay, do you understand me?
His words cut deep.
You are not allowed on our campus again.
He hung up the phone.
I sat breathless on the other end of the line. I had failed and once again, the people around me saw me as beyond redemption.
It’ll be 3 years since I was asked to leave the church. In that time, I have been hospitalized, diagnosed, treated and moving forward with a new nonprofit.
As much as I have grown, a testament my friends gave me of God moving hills and valleys in my heart, I continue to struggle with vulnerability and intimacy.
It’s bad enough being hurt by the church; it’s equally as bad when the pastor of said church responds to your request for reconciliation with a curt We don’t want to speak to you.
It feeds the lie that there are some people, namely you, that are beyond redemption.
A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a founder of a local nonprofit here in the valley who mentioned that the name Daring Mercy adequately described the work I hope to accomplish.
Because it is daring, she said, to give mercy to someone with a mental illness.
We need people to step into our mess and extend grace to a broken heart. We need empathy, not sympathy. We need to be given the benefit of the doubt that we too, are capable of change even if we backslide.
I have spent many years working with people with mental illness and have found this truth in growth:
Destruction usually precedes breakthrough.
The church often believes that spiritual growth should have cadence and rhythm to it. I heard once from a pastor that you should be growing week to week and if you don’t, something is wrong.
But I don’t see that in scripture. Literally no one in scripture had that type of spiritual life.
I see King David going from steady and safe to complete destruction with Bathsheba. His world turned upside down, a confidant wounding his ego for his greater good and becoming a man after God’s own heart, a breakthrough from who he thought he was into who God intended him to be.
We need friends that wound our ego but we also need second chances. We need people to hear us and be willing to accept our repentance.
We need the gospel. We need Jesus. And we need people to swallow their fear and extend this daring mercy that shows the evident gospel to a world that desperately needs to see it played out.
We ultimately need all of our lives to display the fruit of knowing Jesus. Even, and dare I say especially, to people with mental illness.