BOOK PREVIEW: Mental Illness Lies to You

Thank you so much for your support and feedback on my last post, “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way.” I want to keep sharing book content, so here’s an excerpt from chapter 2, which is entitled “Mental Illness Lies to You.” Please share your thoughts in the comments!

The Lie: You Are Not Loved

If you grew up in the church, your introduction to God’s character probably had a lot to do with love. You may have learned songs like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Then one day you moved on to “big church,” in a sanctuary with the pastor, or maybe that’s where you started. Chances are, you’re still singing songs about God’s love. But just because we sing “Jesus loves me” with our lips doesn’t mean that the sentiment penetrates our hearts. 

My husband once observed that we tend to think that God sees us the way we see ourselves. We are often our own worst critics, expecting more out of ourselves than we would dare demand of someone else. We get frustrated with our own shortcomings and assume that God must be equally fed up. Why wouldn’t we think so? Human impatience is all we know. But God’s Word tells a much different story. 

The Word’s Case for a Loving God

If someone asked you to define love, what would you say? Would you call it a feeling? An action? A state of being? The Bible calls love a person.

In 1 John chapter 4 verse 16, the apostle John writes, “So we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Earlier, in the beginning of verse 7, he says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.” Love is not just an emotion in God’s heart or something that He does; it’s something that He is. Love is a main descriptor of His character. In fact, without Him, we wouldn’t know love at all– He is it’s creator and originator.

Like any good lover, God is not content only to tell us about His love. What good would that be to us? The book of James tells us that faith without works is dead; so it is with love. God the Father proved His love to a watching world with action. “But God shows His love for us in this,” Paul says in Romans 5:8, “that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  

As we discussed in the last chapter, the original sin spawned a problem– it created a chasm between us and God. He cannot stand to be in the presence of sin, and we cannot escape our sin. Love left Him dissatisfied with that version of reality, but His righteous wrath needed an outlet. To let sin go unpunished would be a gross miscarraige of justice. He found one solution, one way to close the infinite gap between us and Him, but it came with a high price: His son’s life.

Parents, think for a moment of your children. If, like me, you don’t have kids, think of a little sibling, niece, nephew, or cousin. I’m imagining my sister. At five years my junior, she’s always inspired a fierce, motherly protective instinct in me. Is there anyone in this world for whom you would let that person die? I can’t imagine sacrificing my sister for anyone. 

Because of Jesus’s excruciating, love-laden sacrifice, we are not only right with God; we are family. Earlier in his first letter, John writes, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” The love that you have for the person you recalled earlier– your child, sibling, niece, nephew, or cousin– is only a shadow of God’s perfect, divine love for you.

A few chapters later in Romans, the scriptures demonstrate that that love, not sin and not mental illness, will have the final word. “For I am sure,” Paul writes in 8:38 and 39, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  If you were counting, those two verses list 17 entities that do not have the power to annul God’s love for us. Those 17 nouns cover everything from the natural to the supernatural and everything in between.  When the Lord says that nothing can separate us from His love, He spells it out thoroughly enough to warrant our trust. 

No matter what your disorder is telling you, you are loved beyond measure. You are loved beyond what your mind can understand or your heart can handle, and it is a good, selfless love. Rest in that truth, even when it doesn’t feel true.

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