I revisited the church I went to last Sunday. I was excited until Sunday came, at which point the anxiety came back. The irritableness visited during the church service, and I wasn't sure that I wanted to go to Sunday school, not feeling like that.
Instead, I picked up on a comment the pastor had made regarding how our country might be healthier if it followed God's laws. I decided to ask him about it. After all, I've only been there twice and I don't have that much to loose yet. I'd rather know up front if he judged mental illness to be because of sin.
His answer was complicated, citing three categories of sin, one being like the blind man, who was blind so that God could be glorified when he was healed, not because of sin. The second was people who had sinned and that when God forgave their sin, they were healed. His examples here seemed too much like a correlation without proved causation, so I wasn't convinced. Thirdly, I forget. Maybe it was more general illness because of not following guidelines regarding sanitation, etc., and he cited Old Testament laws that could bring health benefits. In short, I considered it quite possible that he would go to a sin issue for my depression and anxiety. (And also, he kept enough clauses saying he was generalizing and each case is different to avoid too much trouble.)
Wanting to nail him precisely, I brought up Job. He passed that test. Then I threw out my depression and anxiety and asked him if he would say it was because I had sinned. He said that if I was going to trust him enough to be that honest, he would be honest back. I'm not exactly sure that trust would be the right conclusion there, and I'm not sure if he expected that, but I rather think that anyone asking the questions I asked should be suspected of having a specific instance they are really asking about. Anyway, he answered by asking if I was a perfectionist. "Yes," I answered without preamble. So he proceeded to take me to his office and show me his "diagram" about how perfectionism starts by being hurt and trying to please someone and then we exhaust ourselves going for depression, fall into disillusionment on the one side or depression on the other, regain our strength, and repeat the process. He equates this with bipolar, the part where we surpass excellence trying to attain perfection being the manic part. I disagreed and said that the manic part should be off the page high, but he wasn't interested. Thus, he unknowingly grouped himself with the pastor at another church who told a very similar scenario of how perfectionism led to bipolar disorder - this pastor, when confronted, assured me he wasn't talking about me, and I presume I should be comforted by that fact? Instead, I am annoyed by their misunderstanding.
Back to today, I tried to pin the pastor's opinion down to judging me, but it didn't quite work. I said, so if I do this, I'll get better. He clarified that no, it wouldn't happen over night, but yes, it would happen. And since the future hasn't happened yet, I can't prove him wrong. So I asked, if I do this and am still struggling in 5 years, does that mean I did it wrong? No, he countered, then we would have dealt with one issue/layer and we could move on to the next. We have to work on what we know to start with. I even threw out that I'd been working on the perfectionism for a while, but that didn't solve anything, (neither in my current life, nor in my current conversation).
Then he got into the holiness doctrine/theology/whatever, which included re-defining sin as intentional rebellion. All in all, he preserved gentleness and grace in his overall theology. I was impressed by that, but I'm still skeptical about the redefining of sin as deliberate transgression instead of any falling short of the perfect law. To some extent, I think his perspective would really mess with my OCD, maybe giving me some more freedom. But I'm still hesitant to accept new ideas. Some ideas appear freeing and helpful when they enter, and then they snap on handcuffs.
Anyway, I missed Sunday school and got overwhelmed by new ideas talking to the pastor such that I am distracted from the whole do-you-think-mental-illness-means-I'm-doing-something-wrong idea. I'm looking for a church that wont trigger my false guilt as much, so these questions matter to me.
Also, I did try out for a part, but I haven't heard if I got one or not in the musical. I did hear that I did a good job with my audition, so that's nice. And I really enjoyed experiencing "normal" anxiety. Let's just say it was much nicer than the moments that my OCD really worried me about "lying" on the paperwork. "Normal" anxiety seemed nicer in that it was bound by time, not expected to continue forever, and in that it didn't question my self-worth.