A friend jokingly messaged me that, by posting on my son’s OCD journey yesterday, I had turned and pointed out the elephant in the room of evangelical Christianity.
Fair enough. After all, I called my blog “Iconobaptist”. That should call up historical thoughts of iconoclasts breaking treasured images in the churches during the middle ages. Not everything that we hold close as sacred actually is . . .
I am going to say that we can’t help people with disabilities/mental illness/disability of the mind (or whatever else we may term it) if we can’t accurately label what they are undergoing.
It was easy enough for me to speak out emphatically against the first counselor who recommended to me that I could probably rid my son of autism if I just spanked him more. I took the point that our son had to be held accountable for his behavior, like anyone else, but the implication that autism could be caused by bad discipline and cured by good discipline was staggeringly ignorant and I said so at the time!
Since then, however, I have noted the tendency in certain quarters to just treat my son as invisible and to not acknowledge our struggles with autism/OCD at all, much less trivialize them. I think this comes from somebody not being able to square his theology with the existence of mental disabilities. Or at least some folks can’t find simplistic answers in their theology to paste over my son and others who are like him. And thank God for that.
Even though the Bible’s theology is simple enough for a mentally retarded person to understand it and be converted, God does not boil down to a simple formula! His answer for life’s trials is not simplistic explanations of them, but rather a promise to always be with us, till the end of the earth and till the end of time.
That is my very great comfort and my only hope.
If we give people anything less than that, we give them less than the gospel and send them into potential despair.
If our gospel only gives hope to people who are pretty good that God can help them become a little bit better, then it is no gospel at all.
If our gospel is anything, it is everything. It is hope for the parent whose child faces OCD or autism or both, or compulsive shoplifting or habitual lying or drug addiction or sexual compulsions or . . .
We are in a fallen world. The only people who have the luxury of holding a simplistic theology that denies God’s power over all sin and all brokenness all of the time are people who either have not faced life-dominating struggles yet or who have faced them and decided that God could not help them with them, then buried them deep underground. These folks, sadly, spend their lives denying their own brokenness, lest it break through and remind them of the inadequacy they perceive in God.
No, God is not inadequate. If you have perceived Him as such, you have not gotten deep enough into Him to see that He is infinite and never runs out of resources, even in the midst of seemingly endless troubles and sorrow.
I don’t know many answers in regards to my son’s OCD right now. But I do know that God does. And I know God and know I can hold on. Even if I can’t . . . He can hold on to me.
My son, my husband and I are eternally secure in Him. And that is worth all the wealth of the world, right there.