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Saturday, July 30, 2005 

something must break

I have two close friends who have gone beyond the point of no return. The first one, I remember talking to him years ago, way before he crossed the line. I hadn’t seen him in a while and then when I did see him, he was just different. The energy was gone, the creativity was still there but it was desperate and dark. And not Joy Division dark, not a fun dark like that. We were having this playful conversation and I wanted to know what happened? How did he come to that? I didn’t come out and use those words but that’s what we danced around and he told me, more or less, that given the hand that he was dealt, there was no other reason for him to be anything else. Surely, the hand he was dealt was not a good one; when I first became friends with him he was trying to leave it behind. Maybe it was too tough, who knows, but one day he just gave up. Since then, the way he decided to be and things that just happened have left him without the capacity to function in society. The medication, I don’t even want to know with what they’re loading him but his mind is lost and no amount of medication will bring it back.

The other friend… In her post this week Kaycee mentioned psychopaths. This other friend, I wonder, was he always a psychopath? Is he really a psychopath? (I want him to be a psychopath; it’s more comforting to think that he’s always been mentally ill.) Currently I’m thinking he isn’t a psychopath, at least, not organically. Anything worth having in life takes work and he never wanted to do the work. The fantasy and the spectacle and the quick fun, he could never shake a sincere desire for them. I don’t know when he decided to trade it all in— could have been that he had everyone fooled for years (a likely possibility) or maybe one day after years of fighting he threw in the towel. At any rate, for a while there he was a true villain, and would still be but even a successful villain has to work at it; and his life has become truly so pathetic that there few left who can’t see through the ruse.

These two friends, they aren’t drug addicts, or alcoholics, their minds aren’t clouded from illegal substances; they aren’t thieves or criminals, they just didn’t want to do the work it takes to be a decent human being or even a half-decent human being or even 1/16 of a decent human being. I think the point of no return, it isn’t murder or adultery or any other sin like that; sometime after you decide to stop trying, one way or the other you permanently lose strength and control and clarity and that’s when there is no going back.

Enough dreariness. I’m going to get back to listening to The Best of OMD. That album is awesome!

Christ doesn't abandon us when we struggle with mental illness, which is clearly what the first friend you mention is doing. Our Savior doesn't abandon us when we can no longer cope with the burdens placed on us by the world. He doesn't abandon us when our brains malfunction and we require psychiatric medication. He doesn't even abandon us when, as per your description of your second friend, we embrace evil. Christ doesn't abandon us, period.

Perhaps there is some point of no return--perhaps we can become children of perdition, as we have been taught. But neither entrapment in despair nor the willing embrace of sin qualify us for that. I know, because I was engulfed in true despair and indifferent to my own sinful state when Christ called me to Him.

God loves us, saves us, heals us. We abandon each other, but God is better than that.

oh, I'm not at all saying that Christ has abandoned my two friends. On the contrary, I'm saying that my friends have abandoned Christ and done so to such an extent and for so long that I doubt their ability to answer the door should Christ come knocking. And it's not so much their actions, it's their ways of thinking; they have willingly altered their manner of thinking and those thought processes seem to have become so engrained, I wonder if it is possible for them to change.

The thing is, it doesn't matter whether they've abandoned Christ, whether they're incapable of answering the door when He knocks. If your child were ill, sitting in a room with a closed door, if you knocked on the door and offered help and they were unable to get up and let you in, wouldn't you as a loving parent open the door yourself, or even knock it down if it were locked?

So sorry to hear about your friends.

jls--I appreciate the point you are trying to make here. I, too, have friends who are really "far gone" from what they used to be/do/believe. There is a point where the Holy Ghost leaves us..."for good". Not to say that he can't reach us ever again, but that our actions are so consistently contrary to righteuosness that it becomes difficult to even recognize the Spirit at all. This is even more difficult if the individual has never had the ordinance in the first place.

I remember talking to a friend in high school and we were talking about good feelings and bad feelings... this friend sought out the bad feelings because they were easier to come by, and sometimes feeling bad is better than feeling nothing at all. I could relate to that then and now.

I know the Lord has a plan for those of us who suffer from mental illness. I'm sorry your friends may struggle with that. I can't imagine why certain people have certain struggles. I feel blessed to have my paltry, whiney problems in comparison: "There but by the grace of God go I..."

Serenity,
There are elements of truth in what you are saying, but I really believe that God is limited by what we will allow him to do for us. If we have absolutely given up hope for ourselves, He tries and tries to reignite the spark, but we ultimately are the ones who decide if it catches fire.

Of course, it's always our choice. But if God is still with us, still trying to speak to us, then we aren't past some point of no return. We can still, and possibly will, accept the Atonement at some point.

Remember Paul, or better yet, Alma the Younger--they weren't looking for God; and yet God came and demanded their attention in a way that they could not ignore; and He miraculously changed their hearts.

I stand by my statement that mentall illness is not in any way an abandonment of God, by the way. There's an interesting discussion of this on Nine Moons right now--here's the link: http://www.ninemoons.typepad.com/home/2005/07/going_crazy.html

I am very sorry that your friends are having such a difficult time. Obviously, their suffering affects you, which reflects your sensitivity.

One cannot know if people have the ability to make choices. Socialization can be more captivating than drugs.

I agree with Serenity that Christ does not abandon people with the issues that you are describing. Of course, you know your friends better than I do. But even if were their mother, I doubt that I would possess the information that is necessary to determine what choices are available to them.

Live has deeply scarred your friends. In my opinion, these are cases for health care professionals rather than religious judgment. It may even be true that your friends are beyond a threshold of no return. But that seems to have more to do with fate and little with choice and sin.

I want there to be a chance that things could turn around for these guys. We've been friends for 16, 17 years now. I can't describe it, but I get the feeling, when I'm around them, that what has happened is more or less permanent. They may recover somewhat, but I just get the sense that they will never be the people they were, or the people they could have been.

I would be pleased, actually, if either of them were like wicked Alma the Younger. Alma the Younger didn't go from an incompetent life, lost and drifting, only to become one of the greatest prophets known to Mormonsim; you can't make a switch like that in a day. Repentance didn't make him a great leader. He was already a great leader, repentance merely changed his course.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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