Friday, November 6, 2015

What is Normal Anyway?

This morning my church hosted a network meeting of Cross+Generational ministry workers in our area. In the course of our conversation, we discussed mental illness and the difficulty many people have talking about their own or a loved one's mental illness, even though it isn't nearly as unusual as people think.

We stigmatize many issues like mental illness as not being "normal" and therefore feel uncomfortable talking about them, but perhaps the problem is our idea of "normal."

Statistically, it is more likely than not that you or someone you love has experienced mental illness, addiction, miscarriage or fertility issues, incarceration, sexual assault, or abuse. By definition, then, it isn't the person who has never dealt with any of these issues that is "normal," it's all the rest of us who have. And if that's the case then why do we so often treat all these topics as taboo or strange? Especially in church?

As I think about this further, isn't it in the Bible and Christian theology that it's normal to be broken and imperfect? That we experience troubles?

Jesus said he came not for the healthy but the sick (Mark 2:17), and he meant the sin-sick, the heartsick, the sick and tired of life, and sick to death of hiding my troubles.

If that's true, then church is where we bring our struggles and hurt to break down stigmas and taboos, not where we hide them. Then church really is for normal people, but normal doesn't mean what we thought it means.

From the Gray,
Pastor Ari

“We made an art out of neglecting what we don’t want to see.” -Jars of Clay, “Skin and Bones”

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