I have a mental disease. It’s called paranoia. It used to be just confined to my writing, my self-consciousness of how I was performing against my peers. Somehow along the way, that disadvantaged state of mind juxtaposed itself into my daily life, usurping my bright, personal relationships and replacing them with morose, distrustful situations ranging from short to “it’s only a matter of time.” I don’t even know when this sempiternal shadow slipped so silently into my life – and that’s the most terrifying part about it. Knowing that a perspective on people, gestures, even life itself can be so covered in shade is about as unsettling as having a stroll in a park whilst bystanders line up alongside you as you stride faster and faster, feeling the pulse in your brain reach excruciating pressure, thinning the windpipe jammed into your throat. The paranoia in writing gradually disappeared as I began to just take comfort in where I was as a writer and just settle down. But now, having realized that I have the desire to improve, the paranoia begins sinking in, as I sweat within the regions of my soul upon pondering how to attain heights that have already been attained. If I can’t even do what’s been done…how am I supposed to be better than the forerunners of my craft? At least, that’s what the paranoid, insecure part of me says. And this thought of a perpetual state of inadequacy causes me to flounder in the multiple facets of life. The paranoia makes me exceedingly jealous in my relationships, to the point of suffocation and being overbearing, because I withstand the constant pressure of just not being good enough to keep the people I have in my life unless I constantly make an effort of retaining them all. It has produced a self-esteem so downtrodden that I would believe that unless I provide a new, refreshing service each day to the people I care about, they would cast me away and leave me careening towards the perils of satisfying those dark, faithless thoughts and having them become reality. My mental instability causes me to produce multiple consequences based on judgments of character and knowledge of typical human reactions, and when the most depressing of those consequences comes true, it only whets the appetite of my paranoia. It is like a second, metaphysical shadow that follows me, preying on my insecure beliefs and lack of faith in the people I hold close to heart.
By now, it should have become apparent that this disease seeps into my spiritual life, making it a disease of spiritual nature as well. As some specter that lurks in the depths of my unbelief, it waits until I get settled down in my current position before God. And suddenly, the spiritual world has gone photo negative, and the distorted image sends me in throes of suspicion, not fully trusting any words coming out of any mouths. Motives are questioned to their root as the judgmental side of me is lured out by the paranoia, and it paints every brother and sister in blackface, daring them with utmost cynicism to prove me wrong. The one thing that echoes in the wells of blind despair is grace. God has shown me grace, and He has shown my brothers and sisters grace; are they, therefore, any less worthy of grace than I am? If anything, I am the least worthy of receiving grace, for I am not dutiful in dispensing it to those around. The paranoia mobilizes me to become a selfish, self-centered, and self-destructive tour de force like none have ever witnessed.
I write this post not as a cry for a pardon (although it may indeed function as such as well), but as an apology. This disease is completely manageable, curable even with the hands of the great Physician upon me. I, in my self-loathing and self-centeredness, re-directed all that was wrong within me and projected it onto those around me, causing more hurt than I dare to imagine. So, if, as a result of my weakness, I have ever hurt anyone reading this post, I’m sorry. I know how much it must have hurt hearing that I didn’t trust you or expected the worst from you or even didn’t believe something you said. It’s an easy thing to act according to the norms that have been set, but to admit this grand flaw of character is exceedingly difficult. I know that I’ve hurt a number of people with my actions, words, or attitude, and for that, I offer the weak, human apology that renders naught forgiven – I understand. However, I just ask that you continue standing with me as I begin my slow pilgrimage towards fully giving over my heart to God, that He may fill this temple with His presence, and that any remnant of me might permanently vacation from my already tainted spirit, leaving behind a malleable, soft heart for Him.