If you were to be with me now, you can see a few cuts on both my arms. Some are scars, some are recovering wounds. I am sorry but to be frank, I have been self-harming. However, I have been improving and learning a couple of new things throughout this mental health journey.
One good day, someone shared something like…without faith, you might even die. People committed suicide because they did not have faith… These words slashed through my heart. They were like a hard slap on my face. Feeling ashamed, I tried to be calm. Out of the sudden, I felt as if many eyes were looking at the self-harming scars on my arms. I felt exhausted. Tears were brimming in my eyes while I tried to gulp them back. Everyone in the room seemed to fully agree with what had just been said. They sang songs of praise for God while the speaker was spurring people to step up and allow faith in their life forever. I didn’t know what was happening but I know I felt hurt inside. Someone then offered to give me a prayer.
After coming home, I felt suicidal. With the tendency to self-harm, I contacted a WhatsApp line for suicide prevention. My WhatsApp message was read, but there was no reply until the next day. What I received was a whole chunk of written text saying sorry for not responding promptly. It was written in a polite and positive tone, expressing the hope that I had felt better by the time they replied me. Negative thoughts flooded my mind…who is on the line? He or she also thinks that people committed suicide because they didn’t have faith? …It was a struggle for me.
After some time, my mind became clearer and I seem to have found a comforting answer. For me…our relationship with God is a top-down approach. However, our relationships with other fellow human beings are important too. If I am too focused on the top-down approach and neglect the ties with human beings, I can become authoritarian by letting only my God and I to be the authors of my life. Being authoritarian is actually bad for mental health as we as human beings, need social support.
On the other hand, if I am too focused on my relationships with human beings, I might get hurts and disappointments as human beings are not as holy as our great God. That’s why we need to look up to God using the top-down approach when we are lost in the navigation through human relationships. Below are the Word from God:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ―1 Corinthians 13:4-8 New International Version (NIV)
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. ―1 Corinthians 13:4-8 New International Version (NIV)
Therefore, our relationship with God is equally important as our relationships with human beings. Some people are sick of disappointments and hurts in human relationships, and they turned to God. Since then, they have developed great faith in God. How about faith in human relationships? Personally, I would say that my religion is Love.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.
I am glad that God loves me. Besides, I also try to practice how to love human beings as how God loves me. I want to be emphatic by learning to feel and understand people’s suffering. Through knowing people’s suffering, I will feel the urge to extend a helping hand and share my love with them. Then, this will be a better world after all. What I do is not because I want to be saved from Hell, because if it is so, it is my selfishness. What I do is because I genuinely want to lift people up from their suffering. In this altruistic process, I can’t help but to feel vulnerable.
Relationship with God helps to heal mentally-ill people, but emphatic human beings also play an important role in this healing process. God can be abstract to us, sometimes. Maybe, it’s time for us, the human beings to show Godly love to the mentally ill by helping to fulfill their needs so as to lift them up from suffering. Let’s not label mental illness as a form of spiritual illness. There are many factors which contribute to mental illness. Concluding that people committed suicide because they didn’t have faith is the worst over-simplication. Everyone is a vulnerable human being with a seed for the faith towards Love. I await the days when there is no Hell, but only Heaven with people practicing their faith towards love. So share the religion of Love, extend our hands and lift people up from Hell.
“Hell is a state of mind – ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind – is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains.”― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce.
I imagine that we are all loved by God and Heaven has been built for everyone. All we need to do is just to leave our closet of mind and renew our way of thinking by putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. With this, this place would be Heaven. No more negative labelling but listening, understanding and supportive communication.