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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stages of Grief, Suffering, Mental Illness: Rick & Kay Warren's Interview with Piers Morgan

Two of the larger pastoral concerns I have over the next 20 years relate to premarital cohabitation and mental illness - the former for its pervasiveness and 'acceptability' and the latter because of its complexity and silent devastation. Caring for someone with mental illness in any degree requires a remarkable amount of prayer, love, patience, and discernment.

Earlier this year, Rick Warren, lead pastor of Saddleback Church in California, and his wife Kay lost their adult son Matthew to suicide after a long bout with mental illness and depression, as well as exhaustive attempts at treatment.

In their first interview since Matthew's death, Rick and Kay lay out some courageous truths in how they are wrestling with God in the arena of faith and hope. For any of us struggling with suffering or whose lives intersect with mental illness in some way (I think I just covered everyone), here is a snippet of the interview which you can view, but I would highly recommend reading these long excerpts of the interview.

Here are a few lines I found particular helpful and inspiring:
1. The six stages of grief (as opposed to four)
2. "I wrote in my journal one day...'I'd rather have all my questions unanswered and walk with God than have all my questions answered.'" It's the same dilemma of the Garden and tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Better to know God than everything else there is to know - but this is a choice.
3. On the stigma of mental illness. This is so true and makes me, equally, so deeply sympathetic to those who struggle with some degree of mental illness: 
Piers, any other organ in my body can get broken and there’s no shame, no stigma to it. My liver stops working, my heart stops working, my lungs stop working. Well, I’ll just say, “Hey, I got diabetes. My pancreas or my adrenaline glands, or whatever,” but if my brain is broken, I’m supposed to feel bad about it. I’m supposed to feel shame. And so, a lot of people who should get help don’t.
Lord Jesus, we love you and in our helplessness we ask that You would please help us truly "be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. [5] For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too." (II Corinthians 1:4-5 ESV)

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