When I look back on my life I see a lot of ironies. For example, in my teenage years I was extremely proud of my intellect. I considered that my mind and thoughts were the one thing I could rely on in any situation. I remember sitting down, like King Nebuchadnezzar and believing that I was completely in control of my little kingdom.
What is ironic about that? The irony was that around about the age of 19 I found out that my mind was not as reliable as I thought. If conscience is a compass, then my compass well and truly broke.
At university I took a lot of recreational drugs. After a while using psychedelic and recreational drugs I began to realize that I wasn’t in control at all. I began to understand that I lived in a world in which I couldn’t win every argument. I began to understand that there was also a spiritual world. It reached such a point that one of my university friends called me ‘Mad Nick’.
My middle name is Christian. That’s a bit ironic considering I am a Christian (and then there is my surname White, (I am white) and my first name is Nicholas (I don’t wear knickers (usually)).
Despite my middle name, aged 19 I was prejudicially anti-Christian in practice. The drug use was largely hedonism and was a mistake I couldn’t see at the time. The further ironies came a few years after I stopped taking drugs. My conscience was still broken.
When I was baptised as an adult I was given this scripture as a kind of message from God:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5).
What I didn’t know at that point was that the drugs had caused a few changes in my brain which were to result in subsequent mental health problems.
Sitting down, aged 24 on a hospital bed with my kingdom in ruins I realized that, like King Nebuchadnezzar I had lost my power. I had lost my individual sovereignty to mental illness, mostly because of pride. The choices I had made had resulted in an ironic humbling. My drug-use caused my mental health problems. And it was my fault.
I’m trying to make two points with this blog entry. The first is my personal conviction that drug use can cause mental health problems. That is something those involved in the drugs trade don’t want you to believe. They want you believe that those with mental illness have used drugs in the past to self-medicate. Because any other possibility is simply bad for business.
The second point is to ask you to consider whether the ironies in your own life might point to the existence of God and your inherent value as a human being.
Most ironies are negative. If they point to the existence of a God who orchestrates these ironies like a good Author then obviously that leads on to a debate about the character of this Author. And that question, like the question about whether drugs can cause mental illness, is still being debated. Ironic.