Church, our Borderline Mother

Let’s look at Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states:

“Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.”

They go on to say that individuals with BPD, “may experience mood swings and display uncertainty about how they see themselves and their role in the world. As a result, their interests and values can change quickly…an individual who is seen as a friend one day may be considered an enemy or traitor the next.

People with borderline personality disorder also tend to view things in extremes, such as all good or all bad.”

BPD is a valid personality disturbance that stems, primarily, from an attachment injury in childhood or adolescence.  Individuals with BPD tend to have high anxiety about abandonment and often act in extreme ways to avoid further abandonment, which often ultimately creates the very abandonment that they were seeking to avoid.

I am thinking about this in light of a comment that I read from John Piper.  He stated that if you love Jesus, you should love the Church because, “she is his Bride.”

It’s true, right?  The Bible claims that the Church is Jesus’ “bride” and that He loves her with an unconditional love.  He died for her, wants her best, and is cheering her on without end.

But that doesn’t mean that the Bride is healthy.  If the Church is Christ’s Bride, then she is our mother, some of us have some serious Mom Issues.

Take what happened with Andy Savage and High Point Church this past week.  A young girl went to church and was sexually assaulted by a leader in the church.  That leader apologized but the story was essentially covered up by the church and there were no legal ramifications for assaulting a minor for this young man.  Now, twenty-some years later, he confessed his “sins” to his megachurch and they gave him a standing ovation.  Meanwhile, his victim is still trying to heal because she was never fully vindicated, the men in power covered up the sins of more men in power, and others were left to clean up the wreckage.

These are the actions of our mother, the “Bride.”  She is the mother that covers up the abuse of our brothers.  Who claims she didn’t see the incest.  As her daughter, I have thought myself to be valuable to her.  But have soon found that I am quickly discarded over preference for my brothers.  Her love for me is not unconditional.  She has never been a place of safety for me.  She has never been my advocate.

She has Borderline tendencies.

And still, I love my Mother.  I LOVE my mother.  I pray for her.  I hope for her best.  I recognize that in many, many ways she is strong (there are some truly amazing congregations out there!!!).  I have empathy.  I understand that she does not always have control over her own emotions and actions.  Sometimes she wounds without insight.

I get it.

That does not mean, however, that a relationship with her  operates without healthy boundaries.  For me, that means that I maintain a healthy distance, for now.  I know that when she calls, sometimes I should speak my truth and sometimes I should just let the phone ring.  It means that I do not measure my worth based upon her estimation of me.

My truth and my worth comes from my God.  Never my Borderline mother.

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