Deborah Geesling is a concerned mother who was looking for answers as she sought to love and care for her 14 year old son. She and her husband recently started P82 Project Restoration to support and advocate for families who are struggling with mental illness and needing crisis intervention. Below is part of her story.
A little over 10 years ago one of our sons began to develop troubling behavioral problems. My husband and I were very apprehensive about medication and the possibility of him having a mental illness. However, as time went on it became clear something physiological was occurring that seemed beyond explanation.
Our son has since been diagnosed with a debilitating condition. Because of this, he requires significant support. It’s been a harrowing journey for us. Throughout this process I have grappled with how to think biblically. Our experience did not seem to correlate well with the various, well-meaning, Christian resources that I desperately consumed. Many resources came to the conclusion that my son’s struggle was all spiritual or all sin-related.
I remember learning about the 2011 CCEF conference on Psychiatric Disorders. My initial reaction was to rejoice that you were “going there,” but I then chose not to go. I didn’t want to hear again that my son’s problems were only sin-related. I was living with the very real pain of watching him suffer daily, working to separate each thought or experience into the real and unreal due to relentless psychosis. I was desperate for hope. I wanted to find Jesus in this struggle. How was He going to speak to this sort of suffering? I often questioned if my son’s trouble was so unique that it was outside the walls of the church? I knew it wasn’t, but how would Jesus meet us? These questions haunted me.
This year I decided it was time to watch your videos on Psychiatric Disorders. I packed my suitcase and went on a personal retreat. For three days I absorbed each video with the workbook provided. I grew in my understanding of what it means that my son is an embodied soul. I learned that psychiatric diagnoses are descriptions not definitions for my son. I learned that sometimes medicine is a helpful aid to relieve suffering. And I learned what I can do to move toward others who face similar problems.
It’s no exaggeration to say I cried through every lesson. I am grateful for the work that went into producing this resource. I have a template for understanding complex problems. I have a way to move toward people and families that struggle in our community – people who have been forgotten by society, but not by God.
May God continue to bless your work, and may the church continue to break down barriers and welcome people in Jesus’ name.
Deborah Geesling, Chair of East Valley Behavioral Health Coalition
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