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David Weiss on rediscovering his faith amid the ravages of mental illness :

I have a group of three friends. We call ourselves the “bipolar buddies.” We all went to the same church, and we were the nerds, the kids with straight As and college scholarships. With a 3.8 GPA, I was the underachiever. Within a few years, we were all diagnosed with serious mental illness. We lost our scholarships and our dreams. We each also had a crisis of faith.

While some members of our conservative church were supportive, it was amazing how often our questions were met with skepticism and hostility: “Are you secretly gay?” “Do you have some unconfessed sin?” “Are you possessed by a demon?” “How dare you question God!” The range of suspicions was staggering.

My parents deflected the ugliest overtures. When my mom had cancer, some friends tried to ascertain a spiritual cause, so she understood how sincere people could give harmful advice. But despite her protective efforts, the questions and interventions persisted. More than once I went to a prayer meeting where people laid hands on me and asked God to heal me—but also to increase my faith, make me more like Christ, and so on.

My faith in God has always been an important part of my life. I am not a saint. I have prejudices and flaws. But as a Christian, I wish fellow churchgoers would refrain from passing judgment and recommending a fix after two minutes of conversation.

Of course, I am ready and able to fix everyone but myself. I am a hypocrite, and in my self-righteousness I have hurt many people. Sadly, I didn’t realize my sin until I was the recipient.

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