Every day we go to the mailbox with hopes for a very personal letter from someone we love very much. "Will that letter ever come?" we say to ourselves. "Will it say what our heart aches to hear? … Dearly beloved, I love you with all my heart. I miss you so much. I hope to be with you soon." I asked Jesus that this might be such a letter; the letter you have been waiting for.|
I received your letter of August 31, 1997 and I am responding to it as I promised I would. Thank you so much for allowing me to share your letter with the many others we know and love who could have written a very similar letter. As I write I will not only picture you, but the many others who share your lot in life.
Per our phone conversation today: Please do devote an entire newsletter to perhaps the title, "For Mental Patients Only." Do write about what you know about mental illness in such a way that it will touch the heart of a mental patient, and perhaps make a difference in his or her life. Let them know they are not alone. Please remember millions of mental patients are state patients. They are not free to pursue a lifestyle that is unique. They are intimidated into taking drugs and threatened with hospitalization if they are not "medicine compliant."
I got this lovely two-bedroom trailer only because I was "medicine compliant." I am not free to pursue the kind of lifestyle I'd like to.
We mental patients are also interested in Christianity. Please share your hard-earned insights into the Christian walk with us mental patients. Encourage us to trust in God more.
I know and am aware this is A TALL ORDER. I would love to have copies of such a newsletter devoted to mental patients. I would give a copy to such people. I would especially give a copy to our neighbor who is a born-again Believer and who is mentally disabled. He lives across the street from us.
Please be assured I will send you a cross with a heart in it as soon as possible. This is a gift from the heart of a Believer who has been touched by your life, your book and all your gifts and newsletters. I believe with all my heart that you will be comfortable wearing this particular cross.
The Catholic Church focuses on the sufferings of Christ; and the Protestant Church focuses on the victories of Christ. Where is the love of Christ? I believe this is where you are coming from too! Mental patients badly need to hear about the love of Christ. Too much preaching about faith and hope in the church! Where's the agape love of Believers??? Where's the love of God? This message of love from our heavenly Father is sadly absent in our churches. End of "sermon" !!!
Love from my heart to your heart|
Please know that I love you. I do not see you the way the world or your doctors see you or how you might see yourself. You are a very precious and beautiful person and everything else is a lie. I really cannot agree with the way the medical profession defines or determines when someone is mentally ill. I have been diagnosed as mentally ill as you know. I know how much those words hurt. They have a way of diminishing our character, our personality, our soul. Those words can strip us of our dignity and worth if we allow that to happen. I have decided to put up a good stiff fight. I will not allow myself to be diminished by labels anymore. And I will also fight for you.
For a long time I was very insecure and defensive about having those awful labels of mental illness attached to my name. But eventually I was able to say, "If the world says I am crazy, I'll take their crazy money." Today I am eligible for Social Security and I don't have to submit myself to any more questions or examinations. I am also no longer insecure. Those awful labels slide off me like water off a duck's back. The world can say what it wants to. I am secure in the knowledge that I am a beloved child of the King of kings and that I am a joint heir with Jesus Christ. That's good enough for me. I no longer need to look for approval anywhere else. It's a wonderful place to be; and I invite you to join me where I am today. There is a place for you in my Father's kingdom; and if you would like to live next door to me, there is a place for you. Jesus loves you and me just where we are and who we are. He did not make a mistake when He created us. Don't let the world tamper with what the Lord calls perfect. You are not your "disease." Your label of "mental illness" does not define the real you. When you do need help, call upon the Lord to be your psychiatrist. He is the only one we can trust with our soul - our personality.
The other day I heard these precious words in my spirit, "Peter, I love you where you are; but I am not going to leave you where you are. I am going to take you higher and closer to my heart if you let me." Those were the unmistakable words of my Lord and Savior. And I would like to give those same words to you. "Jesus loves you where you are; but He will not leave you where you are." He will take you higher and bring you closer to His heart if you let Him. Remember, we are His bride and His joy. You are His bride and His joy. We have been created to love and be loved. You have been created to love and be loved.
I want you to know that I was labeled a very uncooperative mental patient. My prognosis for being able to return to my highly respected place in society and the business world was very poor, because I refused to follow the standard schedule of treatment available thirty years ago. When I took the anti-psychotic medication that was prescribed, I felt like I had been put into a straight jacket. Finally I refused to take any more pills. The doctors and other well-meaning family members and "friends" were very upset with me. I was considered a very nice person before I had what is called "a psychotic break." In fact, I even liked myself. But then my "house of cards" collapsed. I went on this wild emotional roller coaster ride. I didn't like anymore who I was; neither did I know who or what I wanted to become. The process of being transformed into the person God had originally in mind was pretty scary. But I couldn't go back to the person I used to be. That door was sealed forever. Jesus sealed that door and opened a beautiful new door for me. And He gave me this prayer to pray, "LORD, let my life be Your glorious contradiction to the world's definition of normal." What the world considers normal and healthy, I now consider sick, perverted and very artificial. Just look at the movies that are made today and you'll have to agree with me. Enough said!
I really bucked the trend of psychiatric expertise when I refused to take one more pill. Fortunately I was never given shock treatment; otherwise this letter to you might have never been written. I would be a totally different person today. I was not intentionally uncooperative when I refused to swallow those pills. There was something inside of me that screamed "NO," a thousand times "NO." I don't know if the doctors were ready to shoot me or themselves when they had this stubborn man in front of them. Maybe it was the devil who was upset with me? This patient really tried their patience. I felt that others would be able to tamper with my soul, my personality without my permission if I was put under the influence of drugs. Whether or not this is true or not, I cannot prove. I do know, however, that when we are under the influence of drugs, we do not have the same strength or desire to wrestle with our problems. We become tame and docile and will more frequently allow others tell us what to do. Whether right or wrong, we allow others to make our decisions for us and thereby we become "them." And if "them" is not the voice of Jesus, we are in real trouble.
I do not write this to put you or anyone else into a straight jacket of guilt or shame for taking medication to balance your emotional ups and downs. But I do want to challenge you to consider and examine other options. For example: Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. It is a very valuable form of restraint we should learn to impose upon ourselves to balance our mood swings. There is also the miracle working power of God. I have seen people healed by a hug and the anointing of the Holy Spirit that breaks every yoke of bondage. Never shut the door to the supernatural intervention of God.
People have asked me, "Peter, how did you get past all the nightmares in your life without killing yourself or someone else?" Here is the key I was shown; and I have used it over and over again to battle my unruly thoughts and emotions. A friend told me that there was more power in the name of Jesus than in a thousand atomic bombs. And I believed him. This truth helped me to develop my own style of psychotherapy. When my thoughts and emotions behaved like a bunch of brats or looked like a roller coaster that had jumped the tracks, I trumpeted the name of Jesus at the enemy. I learned to combine vigorous exercise or hard strenuous work like splitting firewood with the name of Jesus. I rarely permitted myself to sit in a rocking chair and do nothing.
These spiritual battles or emotional upheavals would frequently occur during the middle of the night. When they did, I did not reach for a sleeping pill. I got dressed and walked in a secluded meadow and trumpeted the name of Jesus at the enemy or prayed in my prayer language. Yes, there is a very real enemy and also a very real God. The enemy's name is Satan and God's name is Jesus. Unfortunately many psychiatrists either don't believe this is true or believe it is not professionally expedient to allow God or Jesus to be a part of therapy. The mental health text books state that if you have visions, hear voices or if God or Satan talks to you, you have the symptoms of schizophrenia. That's too bad; because now all charismatic Believers will have to be reclassified as schizophrenics - including all the Old and New Testament saints. And there have been and still are some psychiatrist and psychologists who have had the audacity of labeling these saints of old as schizophrenics. Shame on them!
Psychiatrists currently believe that a chemical imbalance or heredity are the root causes for most mental illnesses. That may be true; but as yet these conjectures are very difficult to prove. So far the treatment of the "mentally ill" has had a very shameful past. There is a lot of room for improvement. I see the doctor of the future as both a psychiatrist and a priest all wrapped up in one. I see healing as both an art and a science. Drugs will have a place in the arsenal of healing techniques, but they will not be applauded or used as extensively as they are today. May the priest and the doctor begin to shake hands and become one and the same. And do please note that as far as I am concerned, the words priest and pastor are synonymous.
The use of anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medication is today the standard approach for treating what is called a "chemical imbalance" in the body. Should a doctor use a less conventional approach for treating his patients, he may be subject to a malpractice suite. I have a very close friend that opted to use a less conventional form of therapy and was harassed to no end and forfeited her license. Some of these courageous pioneers are going to be our best doctors of the next century. Drugs do have their place. An aspirin has cured many of my headaches; but it has not solved the problem that caused them. Making his patients more comfortable is what a doctor is all about; but seeing his patients permanently healed always needs to be his highest objective. Unfortunately far too many "mental patients" stay on medication for the rest of their lives. They may be comfortable; but they are not healed. We have all learned that drugs are expensive. Many have proven to be toxic and can cause irreversible damage to the body. We must look for a better way. There is a better way. Let's dig deep and pray hard and find it!
I have observed not only on myself but also on many others that drugs frequently extinguish the fighting spirit in us. Once we have found something that takes away the pain, we do not look for other options. How very often do we postpone going to the dentist if we are able to take the pain away with a pain killer? But while we are continuing with "business as usual," the cavity and the problem continue to grow. In like manner, we do not deal with the spirit of insanity. We do not wrestle with the powers of darkness when we "feel good." Victories are won in battles, not in rocking chairs. When we are medicated, the urgency to examine our life and make some dramatic alterations to the way we think, believe and live are gone. I urge you to look at pain as a catalyst and an incentive to search for healing. It is only when hell and the reality of being lost become real words that we will look at mental illness - depression, anxiety, confusion, racing thoughts, oppression, possession, insanity, et al, through different lenses.
I believe the Bible is the most reliable psychiatric textbook ever written. I allow myself to be "brainwashed" by what it says. I trust what it says and always pray that I am able to interpret the Word correctly and apply its instructions to my life daily. By letting the Word of God become my exclusive teacher, I have eliminated a lot of confusion, a lot of conflicting voices. And confusion is one of the most vexing problems for the mentally ill. There are so many voices in the world and in our heads attempting to influence our thoughts and actions! What a relief it was for me to be able to divorce myself from all but one. That voice for me is now the voice of Jesus. Healing began for me the moment I said "Yes" to the voice of the Lord. But at that very moment the real tug of war for my soul and in my soul started. The other voices that I had been listening to did not readily let go of me. It was at that point that I was diagnosed as mentally ill. The tug of war was written all across my countenance. There was that life and death struggle whether Jesus, the world, the flesh or the devil were going to determine my destiny. And what a battle that was! Too bad someone was not there to explain to me what was going on inside of me. Instead of having to wrestle for thirty years, I might have been able to resolve these life and death issues in three years or even three months. I hope you will be challenged, comforted and instructed by these words. My only desire now is to give to others what I have learned.
You can see by what I have written so far that I was not impressed by the help I received from the psychiatrists and therapists who tried to "heal" me. I am sure there are many doctors and therapists who could have shown me some shortcuts on the road to sanity and wholeness. But for reasons God has not chosen to reveal to me, my journey was extra long. I do have a lot of compassion now for the "mentally ill." The rest of my life belongs to Jesus and to them. The rest of my life is a very long time - forever! God has prepared a very special place for us in heaven; but I also would like to create a foretaste of heaven on earth for you and others like you. With that in mind I have drawn up the blueprints for "The Promised Land," which you can look at elsewhere in this newsletter. And if you want to, you can help us pray that it will happen soon. By the way, it has not been particularly easy to forgive those who have experimented with my personality - my soul, but I have purposed in my heart to forgive them. As you probably already know, forgiveness is a choice. Jesus chose to forgive; and He is my role model.
I also have to forgive the church some more. I was at first under the impression that the church would be a safe harbor for me. Not so. I experienced my greatest pain through the church when I was told that speaking in tongues was not for today or that praying in tongues was not a legitimate gift from God. That really hurt me and created a great deal of confusion. Most, but not all churches have repented of taking that position. And I hope these words will have an impact on those who still forbid speaking in tongues or do not give their members the freedom to talk about the gift freely. As far as I am concerned, the apostle Paul makes it quite clear in his first book to the Corinthians where and when speaking in tongues has a legitimate place in the life of the Believer and the church. What helped to set me free is the book "Yes, Lord" by Harald Bredesen. He speaks about his experience with speaking in tongues. After I read the book I said to myself, "If Harald Bredesen can do it, so can I." And that was the end of my confusion in that area. Some of us forerunners really got bashed not only by the world, but also by the church for trying to reintroduce the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I must admit that in some ways the traditions of the church also tried to put me in just as real a straight jacket as the medication I took at first. Tradition exchanges the security of "belonging" for a prison of "sameness." I had to work my way through that. At the moment I prefer to walk amongst the churches. I belong to Jesus, not to any particular denomination. The book "Joshua" by Joseph F. Girzone explains my position if anyone really wants to know.
You also asked me to comment about the importance, but lack of agape love you have sensed in the church. Let me put it this way. The churches are filled with hurting and wounded and lost people. Hurting people have a way of hurting people without really wanting to. Unless the Holy Spirit is present to heal, nothing much can happen at a church service. When you go to church, invite the Holy Spirit; He is our healer - not the pastor, not the person sitting next to you. When we put all our expectations in God, not people, not the church, we will not be disappointed when we go to church. It's just that simple. Love heals. I agree with you. We, the church, still have a short supply of agape love. My position at the moment is this, "If you can't love me, please leave me alone. And as long as I can't love you, I'll leave you alone." The day will come when our wounded spirits will be healed. Then we will not be so "touchy." We will be able to touch and be touched without bruising one another. Then we will become fountains of healing and agape love for the Body of Christ. Then we will also be able to see the church differently. Then we will be able to see it through God's eyes. Let us all pray for that day and believe for that day to come soon. When we trust Him and forgive those who have wounded us, that day will come sooner.
There were many precarious moments during the past thirty years when I felt like quitting, like giving up, like saying, "I don't care what happens." For a long time there were those compelling thoughts that tried to prod me to do or say what would have been cruel, wrong, selfish and irreversible. The world of insanity is a very real world. It's far bigger than a "chemical imbalance" in the brain. The ruler of that world is the prince of the power of the air. Satan is his name. It is a world of deception, fear, confusion, selfishness, pride, murder, rage that tries to recruit us to do its bidding. You and I who have said "Yes" to Jesus are its prime targets. What restrained me whenever I was at the edge of the cliff? It was, Grace, Grace and more Grace. But now I have a story to tell. Whatever it takes, whatever it costs; I will tell that story every chance I get. You are the one who has, so to speak, uncorked me and I thank you for being the Lord's instrument. This letter has truly permitted me to pour out what is in my heart and on my heart.
I have asked the question many times during the past thirty years, "Are we really mentally ill or are our souls under siege?" Before Jesus came into my life I hated it when anyone asked me, "Are you saved?" That question always offended me. I did not want anyone to insinuate that I might be lost or wrong or confused. But the truth finally did its work in my heart. I am on my way now to becoming a whole person, a healed person. I am no longer lost. I am no longer mentally ill. The two go hand in hand. I finally found a doctor who knew what He was doing. His name is Jesus. He said, "Peter, you are O.K." Please be patient and kind to yourself and others. Healing can be a long and tedious process. We are all still in process of becoming whole and will be for all eternity. Becoming like Jesus is becoming a whole person.
It is so wonderful to be able to write these words to you. I know they will encourage you and help you become a whole person, a healed person. We all have wings we have not exercised for a long time; because we have been wearing those awful straight jackets. These words are to remind you that you are now free to fly with the eagles. Jesus has set you free. The world, tradition and the devil have tried to clip your wings. Through the words I have written to you we have destroyed Satan's power to deceive you or make you feel like a "non-person." But do remember that you have a responsibility to take good care of your body. Good nutrition, adequate exercise and enough sleep also stop our thoughts and emotions from playing tricks on us. Don't allow the lust of the flesh to rule your life. Don't let those cigarettes continue to be your pacifier. They will kill you prematurely. I know you want to stop. Just do it and do it today. My prayers will undergird your decision to stop. I have battled in that same arena and can say this without any judgment in my heart. I have been free for thirty years. May my victory also become your victory. May Jesus' victory over every form of addiction and enslavement become everyone's victory. Do not waste His Grace. Thank you for allowing me to be your coach and cheering section.
You asked me in one of your letters to list some of the books that helped to unscramble my mind and emotions. I have done that for you on the last page of this newsletter. The list of books I have read is pretty long and extensive. I will ask the Lord to remind me of those that are most important. For a couple of years the only book I read was the Bible. I took it wherever I went. The doctor said this was a part of my illness - reading the Bible too much. But I ignored him. All kinds of books have instructed and encouraged me, including fairy tales. A few books have confused me and led me astray for a while. Music has also played a big part in my healing. And living in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Southwest Colorado has put the finishing touch on the healing process. The Holy Spirit has been my teacher and guide along the way. If you have never experienced His affirming and comforting presence along the highway of your life, may you even now become aware of His gentle presence. I would be lost without Him, for He shows me when to turn and where to turn. If we welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives, He will come and be our comforter, teacher and companion now and forever. Thank you, Holy Spirit.
Dearly beloved, I love you with all my heart. I miss you so much. Before very long we will be together. Thank you for asking me to write this letter. Please write back. Love is a dialogue. Let us stay in touch. Please share your insights with us so that we can proclaim them to others. May our voices and our prayers become as one, shattering the gates of hell. And let us bring our petitions boldly to the throne of grace. May these words find their way into many prison cells and explode the darkness and lies of Satan. May God's favor rest upon these words. And may the love and grace of God sustain us until we meet Jesus face to face. Thank you once more for allowing me to pour out my heart. Now I know I have been born to write, speak and intercede on your behalf. Through the new eyes, heart and understanding Jesus has given to me, I see you and many others healed and free. May the Lord give you those same new eyes that allow us to see ourselves and others walk in freedom - His freedom. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you!
||From my new heart to your heart, Peter
HEALING FOR MY SOUL AND FIRE FOR MY SPIRIT
"THE WORD OF GOD" - The most important psychiatric textbook ever written is the Bible. There are many translations and paraphrased versions. Sample them all until you find the one you like and understand the best. The Word is my teacher and guide.
"THE HEALING OF PERSONS" by Paul Tournier, MD - A favorite and a prolific author on the subject of the healing of the mind and the emotions. He is gentle, caring and compassionate. I love this man.
"THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES G. FINNEY" condensed and edited by Helen G. Wessel - I found a spiritual companion in Charles Finney.
"THE LITTLE FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS" - A collection of stories and anecdotes about the life of St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226). It is an Image Book published by Double Day. I can easily see myself as a follower of St. Francis had I lived during his time.
"REES HOWELLS INTERCESSOR" by Norman Grubb - Faith became a tangible reality through this book. It is now fun and exciting to be stretched and challenged by what seemed heretofore impossible.
"THE JESUS I NEVER KNEW" by Philip Yancey - The title says it all!
"THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON" by Henri J. M. Nouwen - After reading this book I could see that all of us are lost in some way. I found my way back to the Father's house and the Father's heart. His heart and His arms were open and waiting for me.
"COME AWAY MY BELOVED" by Frances J. Roberts - This book not only serves me for my daily inspiration but also for my daily exhortation from the Lord. It seldom leaves my bedside.
"TOXIC PSYCHIATRY" by Peter R. Breggin, MD - The byline of the title reads: Why therapy, empathy, and love must replace the drugs, electroshock, and biochemical theories of the "New Psychiatry." It's a must for those who value their sanity, their soul and also their physical health.
"THE EXPLORATION OF THE INNER WORLD" by ANTON T. BOISEN - The byline reads "A study of mental disorders and religious experiences." This book helped me to gain deeper insight into my own spiritual experiences. It also gave me a great deal of compassion for the spiritual giants and crusaders of the past who had either been hospitalized or imprisoned because of their religious eccentricities.
“DOROTHEA LYNDE DIX - FORGOTTEN ANGEL OF THE MADHOUSE" by Helen. E. Marshall - This crusader for the mentally ill lived from 1802-1887. She is the best friend the mentally ill ever had. She has inspired me to pick up the torch and be an advocate for the mentally ill in our time.
GRACE, GRACE & MORE GRACE by Joyce Meyer - Six audio tapes on the subject of "Grace" that brought much healing to my troubled soul looking for answers. It's a must for the searching soul. The tape series is still available and can be requested from "Life In The Word," P.O. Box 655, Fenton, MO 63026.
IN THE GRIP OF GRACE by Max Lucado - A book filled with tons of healing grace.
* Some of the above books may be out of print, but they are all available through local libraries.