Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, Family, and Church
When do you learn that “normal” doesn’t include lots of yelling, lots of sleeping, lots of beating? In Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, Family, and Church, Sarah Griffith Lund looks back at her father’s battle with bipolar disorder, and the helpless sense of déjà vu as her brother and cousin endure mental illness, as well. She seeks answers in her faith communities, from feeling pain in God’s presence, through seeing the Holy Spirit on Death Row as she witnesses her cousin’s execution.
With a small group study guide and “Ten Steps for Developing a Mental Health Ministry in Your Congregation,” Blessed Are the Crazy is more than memoir—it’s a resource for churches and other faith-based groups to provide healing and comfort. As Sarah writes, “This testimony is for anybody who has ever wondered how God can use craziness to teach us about the depths of human and divine love.”
Part of The Young Clergy Women Project.
Download Free Study Guide by Sarah Griffith Lund and Kim Gage Ryan
NEW! Mental Health: A Guide for Faith Leaders by the American Psychiatric Association
".....In her book, Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, Family, and Church, with an achingly honest and gentle narrative style, the Rev. Sarah Griffith Lund invites us into her family's journey through the pain of mental illness. With hands outstretched, she brings forth the offering of her testimony, giving the reader an understanding of what it means to have, as she puts it, 'crazy in the blood.' Hers is the kind of story the Church has been reluctant to handle. Lund shares how it began in her youth: her father's bipolar disorder; her mother's struggle to keep the family whole and her children safe; and her brother Scott's diagnosis of bipolar disorder, as well. As she unveils her 'crazy in the blood' narrative, we become aware that the experience of her family is intricately interwoven with her experience of the Church. There are moments of deep grace, but also moments of rejection. The Church, the hands and feet of Jesus, seems to want nothing to do with stories like hers and her father's and brother's. Lund concludes, 'We mock Jesus when we reject people with mental illness because Jesus himself got crazy blood on his hands when he touched people with unclean spirits and exorcised demons from his followers (p. 35).' Blessed Are the Crazy entreats readers to listen to and walk beside our friends and families as they carry crosses we cannot see. Only by breaking the silence surrounding mental illness can we understand the power of God's healing love." ― review by Rebecca Dix, Copyright 2015 by Christian Feminism Today (www.eewc.com). Reprinted by permission. Read the entire review at Christian Feminism Today
".....In our world, so many people are affected by mental illness but don't have the tools and language to talk about it. Sarah Griffith Lund has written Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family & Church, a book that will transform our perceptions and give us tools to deal with the reality of mental illness in our lives. She even proposes that mental illness is a gift. This book is poignant, relevant, and profound. It responds to the stigma of what Sarah rightly calls "brain disease." Sarah is a young clergy woman who is also trained in social work, and she has a very personal, beautiful testimony about mental illness. She provides genuine theological reflection about how individuals and communities can respond to mental illness in healthy ways. This spiritual journey teaches the reader true redemption and reconciliation from one who is deeply affected by mental illness.....As I read Sarah's book, I couldn't put it down. Her words are comfort to me in my personal and public life. As a pastor to some who live with brain diseases, and as a woman who has struggled with her own depression and anxiety, Sarah provides a courageous testimony that frees me and others to be honest about our own "crazy in the blood." What I love about Sarah's book most is how bravely she writes about the complexity of her journey, and her experience of God in the midst of human brokenness. She truly has an insightful spiritual walk that can teach us all. Blessed Are the Crazy is a valuable tool for pastors, lay people in the church, and unchurched people. I would be eager to use this book, with the study questions provided on Sarah's website, with an adult book study group. I also plan to have extra copies of this book on my shelves for those times when people who live with mental illness walk into my office looking for comfort or hope. Sarah's eager authenticity gives us hope that we are not alone nor do we have to feel alone. This book, Blessed Are the Crazy, can and will change the ways that we talk about mental illness."
–Rev. Brenda Lovick, youngclergywomen.org
"October is Disability Awareness Month and October 5th-11th is National Mental Illness Awareness Week, but both disability and mental illness are rarely mentioned in church life. Sarah Griffith Lund is hoping to break the silence on mental illness in both society and church in her new book Blessed Are The Crazy. Crazy is a beautiful, raw testimony of Lund's life with a father, brother and cousin who all have mental illness. Using language that resonates with her own experience, Lund uses the Christian practice of testimony to tell her faith story, a story that includes mental illness in her family. Often we tidy up our stories and hide the bad parts, or we use the bad stuff that happens to show how God was present with us. Lund does not do this. Her story cuts through, right to the heart, to deal with theodicy and the fact that there is no cure for mental illness, no magic pill that makes everyone better.....Blessed Are The Crazy breaks through the shame and stigma of telling our stories of mental illness. Lund not only shares her story, but a vision for a church that welcomes and accepts people with mental illness exactly as they are, and uses storytelling as a way to take the next step."
"This is one of the most beautiful and courageous books I have read in a long time. Having suffered my own brain malfunction for most of my life, it is a book of enlightenment and hope. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage and pure tenacity to face life during the dark times, Sarah gives daylight to that darkness. She doesn't presume to offer any kind of quick cure for mental illness for there is none. However, as she so clearly and beautifully writes, she offers healing. And healing as I experience it is learning to live with the life you have and key to that is not only therapy and medication but especially to be surrounded by loving, accepting, and understanding community. Thank you Sarah!" --Dr. Ed Boye, "Musings: Reflections on Being," 01/23/15
"A brave and beautiful memoir, told with compassion and tenderness, that will open up conversations about some of the most neglected, shadowy corners in our human experience. Sarah Griffith Lund has given the church a gift: the chance to walk, as Jesus did, in the company of those who bear the blessings and marks of a crazy cross." –Anna Carter Florence, Columbia Theological Seminary
"Sarah Lund offers a beautiful and brutally honest account of mental illness in her family and its impact on her ministry. There is neither romanticism nor hopelessness in these pages. Rather she shares a story that is both introspective and prophetic, and invites us all to share in this lifelong struggle between shadow and light." –Stacy Smith, editor, Church Health Reader; co-author, Bless Her Heart: Life As a Young Clergy Woman
"Sarah's book is a detailed, personal story-telling of the impact that the mental illnesses in her family has had on her life. As she wrestles with her experiences, she affirms that to tell the true story is to heal. Her faith comes alive in the telling and we, as readers, can find hope in her words." –The Rev. Alan Johnson, United Church of Christ Mental Health Network and the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness