Here’s How Close You Are to Being Mentally Ill

Way Closer than You Think

Mental Illness Hell

Mental illness is still stigmatized in this country, along with taking the medications that often treat it. The main reason it is stigmatized is that most people just don’t understand it. If that’s you, I think I’ve come up with a way of explaining it that may finally help you get it, and is has to do with how close you are to being mentally ill yourself. Way closer than you might think.

Your Brain Generates Thoughts

Every organ in your body has a specific function (the ones that don’t are often considered useless), and each function produces something. Your lungs process and distribute oxygen. Your kidneys clean your blood of toxins and produce urine. Your liver also serves as a filter and produces bile. Your heart beats, producing a blood supply that keeps circulating through the body, delivering the fresh oxygen from the lungs.

Your brain, also, is an organ that produces something. Your brain produces thoughts. They are the “product.”

Just like you don’t have to do anything in order for your other organs to work, you don’t have to do anything for your brain to produce thoughts. Of course you can intentionally create and absorb  thoughts — but your brain will think whether you want to or not. It’s just what your brain does.

The thoughts your brain constantly produces create what you know as reality.

Some Thoughts Get Stuck on Repeat

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The God of Kim Davis

Why Kim is not free to love

Kim Davis

image from gawker media

We used Newtonian physics to formulate the laws of nature. For hundreds of years, that is all there was. Objects could not be in two places at the same time. What goes up must come down. We understood these laws as defining reality itself and believed nature did not, and could not, work outside of them.

But Einstein’s theory of relativity changed all that, introducing physicists to the quantum world. Suddenly we began to discover that an entire universe existed that we had known nothing about, where the laws of nature that we believed to be immutable simply did not apply. The movement of one particle could affect the movement of another particle millions of miles away. Particles could disappear from one place and pop up again instantly in another place. Seriously. That’s what we have learned through the discipline of quantum physics.

And so what we in effect discovered was reality operating on two levels at once. But did quantum physics nullify Newtonian physics? In other words, did we have to throw the old physics out the window once we began to understand the rules of the new physics?

Of course not. Newtonian physics applies in all of the observable world. But quantum physics takes us into another world entirely, where the rules of Newtonian physics simply don’t apply. There are rules in quantum physics, but they’re very different from what we learned about the world through Newtonian physics.

The law of love as modeled and taught by Jesus is like quantum physics. It takes us into an entirely different universe, where our previous understandings of things, typical conceptions of morality and immorality, simply do not apply any more. This is obvious because one of the things Jesus did most often was show the Jewish leaders that their skillfully honed conceptions of God and love didn’t even come close to reaching far enough.

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7 Ways to Fight the Stigma of Mental Illness

Hint: Ya Gotta Get Loud

mental illness

[This topic was requested by one of my regular readers, that is, one of the people who receive this blog via email.]

I have been stunned by the ignorance I have encountered since the 2011 suicide attempt of my daughter. Some people said she just did it to get attention. Many more people called her selfish and said she lacked willpower. And of course some thought if she had just prayed more, or harder, she would have been healed.


That’s mostly where the stigma of mental illness comes from.

I take medication for anxiety and people have said, “I’m surprised as a pastor you would turn to medication,” as if my failure to find relief in prayer was a personal affront to them, like I did it just to trouble their theology.


Here are seven things you can do to fight the stigma of mental illness.

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“The Sky Is Not Falling!”

...even if the world is getting worse

image ©Disney Corporation, 2005

If the line that we see the world not as it is but as we are is true (and I’m convinced it is), there are a lot of dark, fearful, negative, cynical people in the world who look around them and see only despair, only things to fear, only the sky falling down around them.

I find myself affected by this. It’s hard work running around crying “the sky is not falling” to a world that is curiously convinced that it is, that there is no hope, that we have reason to despair in this generation, that America and the world are going to hell in a hand basket. The dreariness and hopelessness are penetrating. They get under your skin and drag you into this gloomy world, where everything is wrong, everything is a cause for outrage, everything cries out, “Don’t be naive — it’s awful and it’s only going to get worse.”

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How to Listen Well

It's Simple, but It's Not Easy

listening man -- how to listen well

In my last post I gave you four reasons why you’re probably a bad listener. At the time of this writing that post has had over 40 shares! I promised you I’d follow up with a post on how to listen well. I hope this is helpful.

To listen well, you must…

1. Cultivate presence

Listening is more than hearing, as I explained in my previous post.

Hearing happens on a biological level, but listening, at its best, is a spiritual exercise.

The heart of all authentic spirituality is learning to cultivate presence to God, learning how to truly “be with” God in the present moment. Listening well, then, requires learning how to do this in the presence of a fellow human being.

This is simple, but it’s not easy. To cultivate presence, you must learn to do the following:

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