Post Author: Brenda Lovick
Today, a new book is released from Chalice Press through The Young Clergy Women Project! Sarah Griffith Lund writes Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family & Church. You may purchase a book through Chalice Press at www.chalicepress.com, and you may learn more about Sarah at www.sarahgriffithlund.com.
“Blessed are the crazy for we shall receive mercy.” – Sarah Griffith Lund
If you have ever struggled with mental illness or loved someone who has, then you know that we have a cultural problem. There are many misperceptions; high-profile, violent events have become the face of mental illness. Yet most people with mental illness are not dangerous. People don’t want to be labeled; we want to be seen as “normal.” In our world, so many people are affected by mental illness but don’t have the tools and language to talk about it. Sarah Griffith Lund has written Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family & Church, a book that will transform our perceptions and give us tools to deal with the reality of mental illness in our lives. She even proposes that mental illness is a gift.
This book is poignant, relevant, and profound. It responds to the stigma of what Sarah rightly calls “brain disease.” Sarah is a young clergy woman who is also trained in social work, and she has a very personal, beautiful testimony about mental illness. She provides genuine theological reflection about how individuals and communities can respond to mental illness in healthy ways. This spiritual journey teaches the reader true redemption and reconciliation from one who is deeply affected by mental illness.
Sarah offers several stories about mental illness that draw the reader into her personal experience. She shares about her childhood with her father who lived with bipolar disorder and how his brain disease significantly impacted the dynamic of her family. She continues her testimony with her oldest brother’s bipolar disorder and what she discovered through loving him and caring for him. Sarah then describes what it was like for her to offer spiritual guidance to her cousin who was convicted of murder, lived on death row, and was eventually executed. She reflects upon her own spiritual journey – from faith formation in her family, to atheist, to evangelical, to progressive Christian. She examines the life of Jesus as God entering a painful world and offering healing and forgiveness for all ailments. Sarah challenges the reader to think about how God is working through those who suffer from mental illness; she infers that we can learn and grow from greater understanding. The conclusion of Sarah’s testimony integrates her personal experience with practical ways that the church can bring hope to individuals, families, and communities overwhelmed with mental illness.
As I read Sarah’s book, I couldn’t put it down. Her words are comfort to me in my personal and public life. As a pastor to some who live with brain diseases, and as a woman who has struggled with her own depression and anxiety, Sarah provides a courageous testimony that frees me and others to be honest about our own “crazy in the blood.” What I love about Sarah’s book most is how bravely she writes about the complexity of her journey, and her experience of God in the midst of human brokenness. She truly has an insightful spiritual walk that can teach us all.
Blessed Are the Crazy is a valuable tool for pastors, lay people in the church, and unchurched people. I would be eager to use this book, with the study questions provided on Sarah’s website, with an adult book study group. I also plan to have extra copies of this book on my shelves for those times when people who live with mental illness walk into my office looking for comfort or hope. Sarah’s eager authenticity gives us hope that we are not alone nor do we have to feel alone. This book, Blessed Are the Crazy, can and will change the ways that we talk about mental illness.
Rev. Brenda Lovick, MA, LMFT serves as pastor of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manlius, Illinois.
Image by: Chalice Press
Used with permission