December 30, 2013
By Lee Blum
God is not enough.
What? Did I really say that?
Yes and no.
Many people struggle with an addiction, depression or an eating disorder. They are sitting in your pews and they are in your youth groups. They complicate and frustrate your theology, and many churches pretend they aren’t there. But they are.
I was. And many told me “God is enough” or “you need to pray and you will be healed.”
While I was buried deep in depression and a life-threatening eating disorder, I was told I had to pray more. I had to trust more. I had to stop abusing the “temple” he gave me. And that theology covered me in deep shame and sent me further into the already deep pit of self-loathing depression and shame.
Please stop doing that. I beg you. Please stop. God is not enough.
Let me explain. Have you ever broken a bone? And if so, would you have said to yourself, God is enough, and he will heal this bone? No, you went to the doctor and got a cast. So why then do we overspiritualize any sort of mental illness or addiction?
The brain is broken in this case and needs help. The person needs a professional and God.
These young men and women have been hurt by the church telling them to pray it off.
These young men and women sit in our chapel at the treatment center where I work, and they are left ragged, despondent and often afraid of God because of well-meaning clergy telling them to pray it away. God’s message becomes tangled in a theology that shames them and leaves them feeling alone. They feel unworthy of God’s love, as though God is judging or condemning; they feel they have failed God. Through relationship, faith and reexamining theology we, those working with them, help repair their broken relationship with their Creator. And they are also seeing doctors to help them fix the other parts.
This happened to me and is one of the reasons why I wrote Table in the Darkness: A Healing Journey Through an Eating Disorder.
I want you to know, to understand. I want you to not be afraid to help the millions of people suffering with any sort of mental illness or addiction in your church. I also want you to please stop telling them to simply pray it away.
God wants all of us to be whole, to feel his love. With him all things are possible. And when things in someone’s life are broken, it is imperative that he or she receive more than just spiritual help. Ultimately if you ask me what healed me, I would of course say it was God. But God worked through people. God worked through the professionals who helped fix my brain, and the church helped heal my heart. They worked in tandem.
Won’t you do the same?
Lee Wolfe Blum works as a Health Educator at the Melrose Center for Eating Disorders in St. Louis Park, Minnesota where she helps run the Eating Disorder and Chemical Dependency Program encouraging and inspiring patients with Co-Occuring Disorders find hope and healing. Lee also speaks regularly sharing her story of hope at churches, schools, and conferences. Lee lives in Edina, Minnesota. For more information visit her website: leewolfeblum.com or Twitter @Blumlee.
Posted by Nate Baker-Lutz at 2:10 PM