After some hesitation, I launched out into the field of counseling on February 6. 1975. The step was not an easy one. I had not had a regulated or disciplined life for five years. It had made no difference what time I got up in the morning or if I got up at all. An emotional paralysis had set in that made it progressively more difficult for me to lead a normal, regulated life.
After I had taken the first step, the second one was quite easy. It felt good to have a key to the church and to open its doors at nine o’clock every morning. All fear had gone with my first positive step. I looked forward to every telephone call and visitor, even if it was only a salesman or the mail carrier. After a while, a few counselees appeared, and I thoroughly enjoyed my contact with them. “Finally I am doing some good,” I thought. Trying to help others benefited me tremendously. Once when I prayed for a lady on crutches, both of us were surprised when she walked out of the office without them. At first, I took very much to heart everything I was told, and by the end of the week, I was completely oppressed by the burdens of others. I guess I must have seen myself, instead of Jesus, as the “burden bearer.” For quite a while I had what might be called a “savior syndrome.” Friends gathered around me every week and prayed that these oppressive burdens would be lifted. After a while I learned what I was doing wrong. From then on, I listened with compassion, but I did not allow others to dump their burdens on me. My pay for counseling was the satisfaction of being able to lighten another’s load.
I had the idea that a counseling sign would look good in front of the church. Whether I needed it to bolster my ego or to let people know that I was available as a counselor, I am not sure. Today I am convinced that the inspiration for the sign came from the heavenly realm, for it dramatically and beautifully has changed my life and that of many others. Calling my friend John Allen, I asked him if he would create a suitable sign for me. He was happy to be able to help. After discussing some possible ideas and approximate size, John went away to do some private thinking and research about the sign. A few weeks later, John and I got together again.
He popped the question, “How would you like to have a sandblasted sign, Peter? I’ll do all the work; all you’ll need to do is pay for the materials.”
“If it looks good, that’s fine with me,” I answered. We drove around Escondido and looked at some signs that had been sandblasted. They all looked very attractive. John proceeded to learn the process. I was his guinea pig, so to speak.
When John asked me to help him make the sign, I wasn’t very much interested. For me to work with tools of any kind was still a nightmare. But he did finally persuade me to be a spectator and keep him company. Eventually, he was even able to put an X-Acto knife in my hand and have me make a token contribution to the overall effort. At that moment, with my industrial engineering mind, I could see a whole array of signs and ideas. The idea for Crafts for Christ was born!
The finished sign was exquisite and powerful. Oddly enough, the sign was never mounted at the church. It was far too dramatic and bold for the little building. The sign has been in and out of closets for years but has never found a suitable place for display. Maybe it has accomplished its purpose? Both John and I learned the new craft, which has given each of us much joy. We have shared it with many others, and it has become the cornerstone of a ministry that is now called Crafts for Christ, a Cradle for New Ideas.
Over the next year I timidly toyed with a few signs that I made out of scrap wood and granite, but not until I made the first five-dollar sale did I explode with enthusiasm. The events that led up to the sale are worth recording here. Our local Christian center had invited a guest speaker by the name of Harald Bredesen. Rebekah and I decided to hear him speak. We loved the warmth of his personality and the stories he told about himself. This man loved God in a very convincing and childlike manner. When his book was offered for sale after the service, Rebekah bought a copy. Its title was Yes, Lord—an autobiographical sketch of his life. Rebekah read the book and said that I might like it. Eventually I picked up the book and read it. It was a good book, and I thoroughly enjoyed the frank way Harald spoke about his own flaws and how graciously God had dealt with his shortcomings. There was one chapter I must mention that unlocked a very secret door in my own personality.
Harald Bredesen, about as charismatic an individual as there is today, is not afraid to be known as such. Not ashamed to confess that the gifts of the Holy Spirit also belong to this age, he openly uses them wherever they may be appropriate. He relates in the book that he frequently communes with God by praying in tongues. When I read this about a public figure that I loved and respected, I was suddenly set free. “If Harald can do it, I can do it too,” I said to myself. All the anxiety I had concerning my gift of speaking in tongues quickly and completely vanished. The many whispers and allusions of psychiatrists and pastors that had referred to this gift of the Holy Spirit as gibberish or demonic no longer put me in bondage. I am glad to see articles like the following beginning to appear in our daily newspapers. This particular story was printed on July 6, 1979 in a California daily newspaper.
Speaking in tongues ‘legitimate’
PASADFNA(AP)— Christians who participate in glossolalia—speaking in “unknown tongues”—are taking part in a legitimate religious experience, says the report of a study by psychologists at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Tests used were designed by the seminary’s clinical psychology department to determine whether tongues-speakers were stable people or were exhibiting signs of instability.
Psychologist H. Newton Maloney says findings were that glossolalia did not indicate instability and had no more effect on personality integration than participation in any mutually supportive group.
“Glossolalia,” he says, “must be viewed as a valid form of religious expression and not as a psychopathological symptom.”
Those whose behavior has come under the scrutiny of a psychiatrist, or one in a similar profession, know the excruciating pain caused by people who question the soundness of a person’s mind. I wish to share with you, dear Phyllis, the diagnoses of my case by four professional men, licensed to treat the mentally ill. I do this to point out that the diagnoses and treatment of the mentally ill are often as much a matter of personal prejudice as clinical expertise. A doctor who does not believe in God and the validity of what is commonly called “The Full Gospel” certainly will be bound to treat his patients differently from a man who does. The four diagnoses read as follows:
Mr. Laue has been under my care since he was hospitalized for a depressive reaction at Edgemont Hospital on February 2, 1970. His symptoms included periodic facial pain, depression, and feelings of being quite overwhelmed by work and family problems to the point where he was unable to function on his job. He was discharged on February 20, 1970, somewhat improved, and was seen regularly for outpatient therapy until this date. Progress has been very much up and down with the downs predominating. There have been increased feelings of inadequacy, sometimes reaching panic stages. The patient has seldom understood consciously the reasons for his difficulties. He attempted some part-time work for his employer for about three and a half months during the spring, but was unable to continue and finally had to stop work altogether. He tried again a few months later to do some volunteer work, but this too was unsuccessful and he had to stop after a few weeks. Symptoms seem to have been increasing in frequency and severity in recent weeks with such things as hyperventilation and extreme panic occurring occasionally. Prognosis is poor. It does not look as though Mr. Laue will ever return to work.
The second diagnosis:
May 18, 1971
The patient is a 38-year-old, married Caucasian male who was first hospitalized for three weeks at Edgemont Hospital in North Hollywood in February 1970. The diagnosis at that time was “schizophrenic reaction”. He was seen by the____ Clinic until January, 1971, when he withdrew. He has also been seen by Dr.____ from October 1970 until May 1971, for Reality Therapy. He states that he was baptized of the Holy Spirit and tongues and has found a new way of life. He was taken to Los Angeles County Hospital two weeks ago when his wife called an ambulance because he was in a religious trance and speaking gibberish. He was released. He has gone to live with his parents in San Diego and plans to stay in a trailer in a large orchard in Escondido for a while until he maps out his future. He is not taking medication at the present time. He last worked as a systems analyst for ten years until last summer when they placed him on part-time.
Mental Status: The patient is alert, polite, and cooperative. He is well-groomed and speaks with a German accent. He is very intelligent and has a good fund of knowledge. He states he has severe anxiety and finds relief in prayer. He is able to place himself in a trance. He has a fixed delusional system with many religious references. He has had hallucinations, which he attributes to an abrupt withdrawal from Dilantin abruptly. He is very paranoid and has very poor interpersonal relationships. He is very distressed in that his wife has now served him with divorce papers. His associations are loose at times but he tried very hard to present a normal picture. His judgment and insight are poor.
Diagnosis: Schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type, chronic.
The third doctor’s report:
According to my records, I saw Mr. Peter Laue beginning in September 1970. I saw him on an intermittent basis through December 20, 1971. During that fifteen months, he showed definite signs of a schizophrenic breakdown. Because of the severity of his psychosis, he was unable to be employed. He puts such demands on himself that any form of employment would have precipitated the need for hospitalization. He spent a good deal of time ruminating and lapsing into hallucinations. Fortunately, he became phobically interested in religion and this enabled him to be diverted from his psychotic fantasies. During these months, he was very depressed over the emotional loss of his children. His wife threatened to keep him physically away from his children.
Before his breakdown, he had been a highly successful industrial engineer, creating some of the most meaningful systems analyst programs. Because of his thriving need to be perfect, he lapsed into a major depression, which was basically covering an underlying schizophrenic process. If this gentleman had not found his religious dimensions and had not become zealously attached to Christianity, he would have become a psychotic patient for the rest of his life. It is my professional opinion that his psychotic processes are still dormant and will be waiting for expression for the rest of his life. Thanks to his preoccupation with fundamental Christianity, his most recent letters to me show a total covering up of this schizophrenic process. I doubt, however, that Mr. Laue could ever assume a job in the traditional employer-employee model. I believe that such stress would be the catalyst for a resurgence of his schizophrenia. Everything should be done to encourage him to remain phobically centered on his Christian endeavors.
The fourth doctor’s report:
August 29, 1991
Diagnosis: 1) Recurrent, major depression, no underlying bi-polar. 2) Personality Disorder, Mixed, primarily schizo-typal, with obsessive-compulsive features.
Discussion: The patient presents a difficult diagnostic picture. He gives clear recurrent, major depressive episodes with some evidence for hypo-manic episodes and certainly evidence for a kind of schizo-psychotic experiences. Earlier psychiatric evaluations have diagnosed him as schizophrenic with depression and anxiety. I think years ago we would have called him “simple schizophrenia” with episodes of Major Depression. It does not appear that he has had common schizophrenic deterioration and so I question the primary diagnosis of schizophrenia. On mental status exam he tends to make relational contact with the interviewer, unlike a schizophrenic and has a withdrawn, depressed mood with a surface posture of trying to please, to look good, to make a good impression, attempting to appear better than he really feels on the inside. When the direction of the interview is removed from his grasp and he is placed in uncomfortable situations and confronted during the interview, he becomes quite anxious, uncomfortable, seemingly almost paranoid, and expresses a strong desire to “escape to his safe, complete environment he has created about himself.”
I think an argument could be made for primary diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder. I also wondered about an underlying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to his childhood. Although he touched briefly on his being raised in Germany and moving frequently for the “safety of his mother”, he avoided detail. Psychologically, his siblings have fared less well.
The patient described his SSDI being discontinued in 1981. He says he lived off of what little money he had saved, sold his house, and received gifts from supportive Christian friends until his disability income was reinstated. He describes deterioration financially over the years; he lives simply, but not poorly; he lives a very committed religious life and his goals are spiritual, not materialistic.
When I first started the interview with Mr. Laue he understood the nature of my evaluation and his superficial presentation was quite good. When I took over the interview and controlled the situation, pressing him and confronting him, I saw him regress and deteriorate emotionally. I believed his own statement that “he would rather die than leave his safe, complete environment.” (Mr. Laue is permanently and totally disabled and he must remain in his safe created environment for adequate functioning.) Different from many borderline functioning individuals, he has the intelligence to create his own environment, withdrawing from the stress and stimulation of the world. He has completely immersed himself in a spiritual relationship and has developed the support of a religious community, thereby superficially appearing “together.”
I think he is capable of managing his own funds, and I do not think he can be gainfully employed and I don’t think he is a candidate for vocational rehabilitation. As a psychiatrist I would be interested to see his response to intensive psychotherapy and/or psychotropic medications. Realistically, I think that he is best left in his “safe, created environment”, with psychiatric intervention only if he deteriorates as he ages.
A diagnosis can therefore be more like a judgment and can have a very debilitating effect on the functioning of the patient in society. It can be like cold steel on a sensitive soul. I remember quite vividly a battery of psychological tests followed by a psychiatric examination. These periodic examinations were requested by my insurance company. The outcome of the examinations determined if I would continue to be eligible for disability. There was intermittent conflict between a major insurance company and Social Security. Neither was eager to pay my disability. I became a pawn between these two giants. During one of these I asked the doctor if he would mind reading my file to me. He did, and I was astonished how accurately it recorded my biography.
The actual examination was very brief and was limited to a few questions. I was asked, “Do you still speak to God?”
“Yes, I do,” I answered.
Then the doctor proceeded to ask, “Does your God answer you?”
“Yes, He does,” I replied.
This concluded the examination. When I asked if I would still be eligible for disability, the doctor told me “yes.” I was quite surprised and I
wondered why. The doctor said; “You may talk to God all you want, but we don’t expect Him to answer you.”
I rejoice that I can hear God’s voice. I am in excellent company with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, St. Paul. St. Francis of Assisi, and many others. Who knows, maybe some of their counterparts of the twentieth century are on disability today! If the world diagnoses them as “crazy”, they should be compensated for wearing such a demeaning label.
The impact of the book Yes, Lord was by far not over. One day I quite idly traced the words from the jacket of the book and decided to sandblast them into a piece of scrap granite. I was not particularly impressed with
the results and put the finished product out of the way on top of a cupboard. Several months later, after much coaxing, I was persuaded to exhibit our work at the Garden Grove Community Church in Garden Grove, California. I took the “Yes, Lord” sign from its place on top of the cupboard and rather reluctantly brought it with us. My contribution of signs looked very meager compared to the beautiful statuary artwork produced by Rebekah. Sales were flourishing at our exhibit, but only what Rebekah had made was selling.
Unexpectedly, a lady noticed the “Yes, Lord” sign and eagerly produced a five-dollar bill to purchase it. I was electrified! It was the first money I had earned in six years. I did not realize how much I needed and coveted this type of approval and vote of confidence. Before the exhibit closed, I received an order for a second “Yes, Lord.” I was excited, but little did I realize how germane with promise these two sales were. We have sold several hundred of these signs since that day, and with each sale has come a new friendship. The sign has even been reproduced in statuary art and is now available in many stores in the western states.
Here is a letter from a friend who tells the story better than I. This man was brought into our lives through one of the many “Yes, Lord” signs we made.
February 16, 1982
I am sorry I haven’t written sooner. I want to thank you for your hospitality, which you extended to Hans and myself. Peter, I want you to know that God used you to confirm something to me that I had been praying about. Many years ago (I think seven) as I was driving my car, the Lord spoke to me and told me He would heal me. Well, since that time I lost the sight in one eye and I’m visually impaired in the other. This loss of sight is due to the diabetes I’ve had for almost 29 years. (The
disease is called diabetic retinopathy.) I first started having trouble with my eyes a little over ten years ago. I had lost the vision in my left eye back then and five years later, a surgery restored some of it. I still had the use of one good eye up until January of 198I. When my good eye went out, I spent a month at home last year in anguish and despair. I was also very angry with the Lord. However, God in His infinite goodness lifted me out of my despair and began to deal with me in a most wonderful way, and started changing me and showing me deeper truths that I never would have received unless I had lost my sight. I had been to prayer meetings during that ten-year period, attended healing services, had hands laid on me, and people praying for me constantly. But God did not choose to heal me then. Last August (‘81), I went to a Morris Cerillo meeting expecting a healing for my body and instead I received a spiritual healing. And when I asked the Lord about my physical healing, He said, “Not yet, Carmen,” and at that point I surrendered my entire being to Him and said, “Yes, Lord, no matter what happens—whether you heal me or not, all I want is to know You better and be what You want me to be.”
You see, Peter, when I first became a Christian and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, I echoed a prayer from my spirit. That prayer was, “Lord, I want everything you have for me and nothing less. I want your very best, and whatever it takes for you to do it. And if I scream and holler and tell you to stop, you go ahead and do it anyway!” Peter, the Lord has honored that prayer, and I’ve been through many deep waters and many lessons were hard, but Praise God, He conformed me to the image and likeness of His Son Jesus Christ. He is changing me from what I am to what I ought to be.
Well, you’re probably wondering how you fit into all of this. I’ll tell you. About a month before we visited you (we were at your place January 21), I asked the Lord again about my healing and asked whether or not I was imagining if He told me my healing was coming. This time I asked Him to show me, and it would have to come through someone else who didn’t know me, for I would be sure it was through the Holy Spirit directly from Him. And then we came to see you by the leading of the Spirit, as you know, and Praise God, the message came through you! And God confirmed it through another three days later. I just want to thank you and Rebekah for the love I felt when I was in your home; the love that came from you was almost overwhelming.
I had breakfast with Hans the other day and he mentioned your invitation. I hope my wife and I can visit with you sometime. Thank you for the “Someone Touched Me” plaque. It is a constant reminder of God’s promise.
Your brother in Christ, Carmen