A big part of my spiritual journey is that I was raised in the Southern Baptist sphere of Christianity.
It’s a very no nonsense denomination.
Early on in my faith, I explored different denominations of Christianity because I wanted my faith to be my own and eventually came across the popular Prosperity Gospel church.
You know the type-the Name It and Claim It churches. The ones that hang on to the verse that says “Ask for anything in my name and believe it in your heart and it will be yours” as supporting evidence that you can manifest things into your life.
As a Baptist, I was self-assured that this interpretation of scripture was highly manipulative…however, no pastor could explain to me what that verse looks like in practice.
A little known fact about me is that I have spent the last 17 years of my faith wrestling with that verse.
Even churches that go through books of the bible have glossed over that verse, addressing it in vague terms. So for years, I searched for a deeper understanding of the kind of faith that Mark talks about in that verse.
In one book I read, the author said that God invites us into this space to express gratitude for things that haven’t happened yet but we have faith that will happen. I saw no problem with doing so when it came to provisions, like shelter and food. But what about more complex things? A desired marriage or child? Wealth? Medical healing?
It was during this time that I had a friend who had a debilitating, permanent disability that believed that she would one day experience healing from a certain aspect of the disability despite doctors telling her otherwise. I said nothing but I was sure she was mistaken. I asked her how she was experiencing her faith while she waited. She said she merely thanked God daily for what she believed was coming and sure enough, a few months later, she experienced that healing.
I wrestled with manifestation after that, still privately. I would surely be shunned from the Baptist community if I showed I was questioning something like this.
I was in this state of confusion when I became psychotic.
Trying to explain psychosis to religious people is the most difficult thing. They want to rationalize everything. Either everything was a product of my mental illness or everything was a result of a lack of understanding of faith.
It has made recovery very challenging but a breakthrough came a few years ago when a Christian counselor pointed out that both could coexist and be accurate.
I realize that four years after my episode, I rarely talk about the details. While I would love to say it’s because I’ve moved on, it’s far more accurate that to someone in recovery, psychosis is an embarrassing topic.
But my experience with psychosis is why I have been doing spiritual direction; because ultimately, I’m fighting to understand what happened.
It was during this time that I attempted to manifest a marriage to someone I thought God had told me I was going to marry. The worst part is that I didn’t even like the guy. In my delusion, I thought choice had been taken from me.
So I attempted to name and claim this marriage all the way up to his wedding to someone else. And I was hospitalized and diagnosed a week later.
For four years, I have struggled with my relationship with God. Between anger and apathy, I have pounded on this wall to get to the other side of spiritual healing.
Hence the spiritual direction sessions I started four months ago.
It was in my last session that the topic of belief before provision came up. What does it look like to rejoice in revelation before it’s proven true? How do you believe that you have received something before you have received it?
I don’t think reformed churches truly touch on that subject and charismatic churches place too much emphasis on it.
During my session, God was inviting me into a place to rejoice in a promise yet unreceived. To take hold of this unshakable peace about something that hasn’t even happened yet.
There’s an element of fear here that the story will repeat itself. That psychosis will reappear and that I will be made a fool once again.
But this still, quiet voice says this is familiar territory with a different ending. It’s an invitation to relearn an element of faith that psychosis robbed me of.
Our session ended with my director saying that the journey of faith is like a labyrinth, not a maze, meaning that we often get led down different paths to return to old places that teach us new aspects of the character of God.
The last four months have felt very familiar to the five months I was in that separation between myself and that guy. But the difference is me. The difference is the clarity and the growth happening. The overwhelming peace I have.
All I’m saying is that while name it and claim it theology is inherently manipulative, we can’t disregard the call for us to be confident in what we pray for within the will of God. Even if it doesn’t make sense to other people or even ourselves. We hold our prayers with open hands rather than control or manipulation.
We pray with freedom.