Today, for my weekly Leadership Journal Interview, I had the chance to talk with Amy Simpson, author of the new book, Troubled Minds. I asked her about some of the misconceptions we have about mental illness. Among her answers was this very hopeful one:
Many people also mistakenly believe that people with mental illness are doomed to live wasted and unproductive lives—that they can’t contribute to the life of the church. We have this sense of spiritual hopelessness about mental illness that we don’t have about other treatable conditions, even when they’re very serious. But God has a purpose for everyone. Mental illness may alter the course of a person’s life, but it doesn’t mean that person’s life is no good anymore. Psalm 139 is a beautiful reminder of our value to God, and his attention to the details of our lives. Verse 16 celebrates, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” God is not surprised by any of our suffering, and he wants to use all of us. His redemption is always at work, and he uses suffering to make all of us more like him and to qualify us for ministry to others. If the church gives up on people, that is the church’s doing. It’s not God’s policy.