cover image A Quiet Mind to Suffer With: Mental Illness, Trauma, and the Death of Christ

A Quiet Mind to Suffer With: Mental Illness, Trauma, and the Death of Christ

John Andrew Bryant. Lexham, $19.99 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-68359-704-9

Bryant’s darkly poignant debut recounts how he learned to trust God while battling his debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder. Three years ago, the author was working toward his minister ordination when “random, sexual, [and] violent” intrusive thoughts began “arriving like meteors in my waking life,” triggering severe anxiety and dread about tasks as mundane as going to the grocery store. After a breakdown, he checked himself into a psych ward, where therapy helped him understand that though his thoughts were tortuous, “we are not what we... think,” but rather “what the Word of God will make of us,” a realization that carved out a “tiny little bit of quiet in my heart.” Bryant makes clear that he didn’t “[get] rid of a mental illness by believing in Jesus,” but instead found a “patient, quiet trust” in Christ that serves as an emotional life raft amid life’s ups and downs. While the faithful will appreciate Bryant’s efforts to explore a nuanced relationship between mental illness and faith, what stands out the most are his painfully visceral descriptions of mental suffering—“In response to what it could be made to see by my mind, my body began to crawl into itself.... It was a frightened monster I’d never been introduced to”—rendered with an unsparing honesty that jumps off the page. Christians struggling to reconcile their faith and mental health will feel seen and heard. (Sept.)