Are You A Weak Human Being? Medication, God, and Christians Part 3

To heal, we need to humbly accept the truth of our human fragility.

There is a soap opera here in New Zealand called Shortland Street. In the very first episode, a nurse tells a doctor a simple sentence that has become, believe it or not, part of New Zealand pop culture.

“You’re not in Guatemala now Dr Ropata.”

In the scene, a mother is about to deliver a baby, but there is no obstetrician available. There is, however, a new doctor fresh from working in Guatemala. He wants to help, but the nurse is determined to stay within the boundaries of hospital policy. So she uttered those memorable words.

Sometimes I want to tell people these words.

“You’re not in the Garden anymore.”

The Garden

Here is the point.

I believe we all have a desire for a life where there is no pain or suffering. Where relationships are perfect, and we have sunny days, etc. Exactly the kind of lifestyle Adam and Eve delighted in.

The harsh reality though is that we are no longer in that place.

Genesis 3 very clearly explains what life outside of the garden would be like. Pain, suffering, toil, naked vulnerability.

So here is the big question.

Are you ok with being human?

How that may seem a silly sort of question, but in all honesty are you ok with being human and all that that entails.

Outside of the garden, there are thorns, pain and struggle. There is a need for help.

Accepting our humanity means that we need to recognise that we need help.

Medication is of course just one form of aid.

Recently I went to see my doctor for a prescription. I try to be ruthlessly honest with my doctor. We have known each for well over 15 years, and he knows me inside and out.

‘How about we increase your meds for the next little while and review them in 3 months’.

I was ok with this because I had explained to him some of the things happening and that sleep wasn’t that great at the moment.

I am human, I am not in the garden, I have fragilities.

Are you weak?

Do I consider myself as being weak for needing to take medication? I don’t think so.

Some people seem to believe that you can just push your way through a mental illness. That you just need to ‘harden up’.

The sad fact is these very people who try to ‘harden up’ often crash in a heap.

Whereas if they had been courageous, open and honest with their struggle then they might have got the help they needed. If they had let go of pride and embraced humility, then perhaps the struggle could have been avoided or reduced.

Most people do not see things as they are, they see things as they are! Richard Rohr

One of the saddest cases I have come across regarding medication and a refusal to take it was because of stubborn pride. He had Psychosis (Schizophrenia). He wasn’t a threat to himself or others, but his unwellness and refusal to accept the diagnoses and suggested medication lead to incredible levels of stress on the family.

If he had just accepted the diagnoses, taken some medication, swallowed his pride, he and his family would have had a happier life.

Are you weak enough to have the strength to ask for help?

Please, for your sake and sake of those who love you, open yourself to the reality of your fragility.

If you have been holding back on just how depressed, anxious, etc. that you really are, then please embrace this as being part of your broken humanity.

That there are thousands of others just like you and then go and get some help.

Contact a friend, see your doctor. Be real and honest.

Questions to answer

  1. What do you think about my thoughts on a deep desire to be back in the garden?
  2. Why are we so stubborn in resistance to getting help?
  3. Is it weak to take medication?

Quotes to consider

  • We are unfinished creatures– longing, reaching, stretching towards fulfilment. Eugene Peterson
  • Spiritual paths and practices that distance us from what it means to be a human are not good for humans. David Benner
  • Spirituality can and should help us become more deeply human and more fully alive. David Benner
  • The route to wholeness is not perfection but embracing the realities of our lives David Benner
  • If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. C.S. Lewis

Barry Pearman

Image by Ben White

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3 Replies to “Are You A Weak Human Being? Medication, God, and Christians Part 3”

  1. Yes, medication can certainly have an important role in treatment for mental health problems. But there are other effective treatments as well such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. I call it self discipline of the mind. I have found it very useful to be able to systematically examine my thinking through CBT tools and I’m certain that these tools can be integrated into Christian spirituality.
    Cheers Barry, I really appreciate the work you are doing. Fiona

  2. Thanks for your observations about the garden.

    This is something I have come to believe in very recent years…Life is a disappointment/struggle for so many people, both Believers and non-believers.

    One of the reasons for this is that we were created with delight by a Creator who designed joyous adventures, beginnings and endings for us. However Genesis 1 and 2 are interpreted, we lost these. But our hearts and minds yearn for them.

    Why do so many books and stories feel better with a happy ending? We are created for just that, an unendingly happy ending! We feel short changed if the story doesn’t tie up all the lose ends and come out a winner. We feel short changed by real life so often, too.

    The anguish, pain, sorrow, violence, etc make joyous adventures, happy beginnings and endings difficult, and when they do happen, we know they won’t last.

    Life was not meant to be this way, and we know and feel it. And one day, we shall walk in the garden on the new earth with God, just as Adam did, and know joyous adventures, happy beginnings and endings. Life in the gap is tough. Exhausting. Grinding. But not for ever.

    The other thing that goes along with this is our desire for justice for all, rich and poor, sharing love, compassion and resources, for things to be put right that are wrong..righteousness…and peace. These are godly characteristics given to all humans, and most people work for these in their lives, some never knowing why they have these attributes, but work so hard to achieve them.

    Jesus told us that he brought the kingdom of God, and one day, it will be completely among us with no gaps or holes. Scripture tells us that the whole creation, including us, is groaning as in the pains of childbirth, to see these things come about. And how we groan! And we will see and know.

    But life in the gap, having some of God and a tiny portion of his kingdom, is heartbreakingly difficult as we look around at our world and then look at our frailties and small strength.

    But God…I’d better stop now. Didn’t mean to preach a sermon!

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