I’m not going to lie. Finding faith while suffering mental illness of any kind is no small task. Especially while suffering depression. Hope is one of the three theological virtues and it is by no means easy for one suffering depression to find hope. The second highest commandment (like unto the first highest commandment) is to love your neighbor as yourself. I was involved in a more liberal form of Christianity for a while. Liberal Christians emphasize the first part almost with complete neglect of the first part. I had trouble finding much hope within liberal Christianity.
Liberal Christians get some things right. The kingdom is a now, the highest calling of a Christian is love, etc. But most of these theological issues were quite politicized. I had become quite disillusioned with the current state of politics by the time I decided to explore different forms of Christianity. It was around the time I left liberal Christianity though that one of the darkest times in my life came upon me. I started cutting myself. It’s not a happy moment in my life or a moment I am proud of but it is a moment that I must accept as part of my past. I have lost friends because of it but I have determined over time that these were never really friends worth keeping to begin with. It was in this time of darkness that I gained a much better sense of reality.
Disillusioned by much of the political rhetoric taking over the theology of liberal Christianity, I started attending liturgies at a Greek Catholic parish. It was great at first. I made new friends, experienced new things, started attending the formation classes and learned new things, but then I stopped going. I stopped going for one thing it felt my parents were trying to keep me enslaved to their version of liberal Christianity that Christianity isn’t about belief really but about love. Another reason though was because the priest was very staunchly anti-Protestant. Many of us have difficulties getting rid of our past errors and mistakes. The Catholic Church is by no means Protestant so claiming a form of Protestantism as 100% true or part of the true church is a theological error but at the same time, the mission of a Christian is to declare Truth, not to weed heretics. In declaring Truth, the heretics most certainly will leave because they aren’t getting what they want.
In answer to my parents’, Christianity is very much about love but a key aspect of love is that it believes all things and rejoices in truth. Liberal Christianity tended on a track of works-righteousness. In fact, when involved in liberal Christianity, I actually explored both Satanism and Luciferianism as well without informing my Christian friends of this. The shocking realization came upon me that the principles of Luciferianism and Satanism of identifying one’s inner light and forming one’s own works-righteousness was actually the same principle of liberal Christianity.
Getting back to my story, it was in this conflict with my parents’ views over my exploring the Catholic faith that the dark spell came upon me. I had no clue what to do. I was confused and lost in darkness. So one night, I ran up to my bedroom with a knife and attempted to end it all. Most of it was a blur. I tried to cut my wrist. One of my parents forcefully removed it from my hand. Even if I had ended up slicing it, it would have still been presumably unsuccessful but the attempt to end my own life was made two and a half years ago. And I began spiraling. I stopped going to the Greek Catholic parish because it was not satisfying to have to go to it and then to have to be told the theology I was learning was rubbish. That the sacraments were unnecessary, etc. So I just stopped going.
There were numerous nights where I would just simply scream. Scream and scream. And every other night, I would scratch myself to the point of bleeding. So many disillusioned things coming into my life. Nothing seemed worth living for and I had difficulties finding faith.
I ended up finding an Anglican church near my area that gathered at a local cemetery. I had no idea what it was other than that it was Anglican Catholic and I had read and looked up its beliefs online already before going. I learned much about the history of the church from a couple there as well as from the Vicar General who pointed me to the lectionary which I follow still today in my daily prayers. But still, I had trouble finding faith. Why? Because of my lack of love for my self. My past understanding taught me that liberal Christians knew what love was and everyone else was wrong. I had never really been taught properly what “God is love” meant only that God loves us because we are told he is love. Having spent more time, the statement that “God is love” is the most profound statement I ever heard. Love is not merely an emotion but is something that we relate to and with. Love is God.
Learning the faith via the declaration of what the faith was gave me the strength it was necessary to avoid arguments concerning religion with my parents. They aren’t necessary nor are they helpful for growth. I was baptized in a mausoleum and I began confessing regularly. At first, it was difficult because I struggled with the same sins. But over time as I have been performing the penance that the priest has given me with good faith, the sins have decreased. I can’t say that everyone will notice these results as quickly. Some might take longer and some may require longer detoxification from their past but all of us are striving and I by no means am perfect.
One finds everyone is broken of course and has experienced their own trials. Our Vicar General is in his second marriage having been widowed. There is a lady who sits behind me in church who is an elderly widow whose devotion to the Ever-Virgin has brought her great healing in her loss. None of this is therapeutic but it shows we can all find faith in the midst of a dark storm in our life. Some may not experience this but plenty of people do experience this. God never promised all the days would be bright. He only promised he’d be there with us.
There’s more to the story that I have left out but I feel the main story is there nonetheless.