…if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:20-21


As we follow Jesus we might be surprised at what God will call us to and what he will help us do. As a person living with mental illness, I heard the call to fight the stigma of mental illness in 1993. The injustice made me angry—infuriated me at times—though, at the time, I myself was not terribly hurt by it. My battle escalated in 2005 when I worked toward better awareness in the church.

Martin Luther King Jr once said something that touched me deeply: “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”

That’s pretty well what I’ve lived by and what I still live by. Working for the welfare of people who, like me, live with mental illness is what my life is all about.

My battle against stigma has never been for myself alone. In fact, stigma did not impact me much personally until five years ago. Then I found out what discrimination could feel like.

I’ve been telling my story—too often, in some opinions—because what happened was tragic. I also wrote out of the pain of being unjustly blamed and not believed, even by my closest friends and family. It is common for people with mental illness not to be believed, or even given a hearing.

But, although it may seem like it at first glance, my writing is about me alone. It hasn’t been about me alone for as long as I’ve been writing. I want readers to recognize the truths about what people like me are made to live with. The evil—not only in the way I was treated—but the way many are treated.

In a sermon today, the pastor told us that “God will defeat evil.” But I’ve learned that as followers we are called to join him in his work. He calls us to prayerfully gather courage and strength from him and join him in defeating injustice. It may not be easy. In fact, it may mean following Jesus to the cross.

As Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)