Cathy Wiseman discusses tendencies towards disturbed perception characteristic of those with borderline personality disorder. The BPD individual may experience transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or debilitating dissociative symptoms. The goal of such an individual, she says, is to trust God’s sovereignty, understanding that God will care for her. This is yet another area in which it is important for the Christian to be a Calvinist, since we know that God is in absolute control over everything and will work all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28), not letting anything bad happen to us.
Those with BPD may sometimes experience dissociative symptoms. This involves feeling of split consciousness or unreality. These symptoms are brief, however, copared with those who suffer from dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder). The BPD individual may experience persistent suspicion or fear. In the words of Cathy Wiseman, “BPD persons are attuned to the slightest rejection, so it is easy for them to feel paranoid and “‘make mountains out of molehills,’ [be argumentative, and…always [be] ready to counterattack at the slightest hint of potential threat or criticism.”” This fear or mistrust may be unreasonable or obsessive. In the words of Cathy Wiseman, “People who suffer from it are inclined to think ob’s thoughts after him “for the thing I greatly feared has come upon me” (Job 3:25). They are self-protective and do not trust that the plans God has for them are good and not evil (Jer. 29:11).”
Next, those with BPD exhibit disturbed behavior. This may involve impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging. Wiseman encourages such individuals to internalize the scriptural truth that they need to mature in Christ and experience self-control; a fundamental fruit of the spirit. Indeed, those with BPD are oftentimes notorious for their impulsiveness. To quote Wiseman:
“Even though BPD persons feel like children much of the time, they can learn that they are not and can learn to act like adults regardless of their feelings. This doesn’t mean that their helpers do not empathize with their strong feelings of impulsivity; it means that they help BPD persons learn to respond to truth rather than their feelings when those disagree with Scripture. When we feel compelled to obey our feelings, they become our gods. But God can transform our hearts as we look to him.”
She quotes Brandt and Skinner:
“When you allow Jesus to come into your body as your Savior, not only are you cleansed from your sin, but you also have access to the Spirit of God. Here is an invisible, unexplainable presence that produces visible, measurable changes in the way your body works. Your body is transformed. Phillip Keller describes this miracle: “deceivers become honest; the vile become noble; the vicious become gentle; the selfish become selfless; the hard-hearted become affectionate; the weak become strong. . . . Apart from the Spirit of God in control, human beings’ ill will, hatred, bitterness, envy, old grudges, jealousy and other heinous attitudes can be masked with a casual shrug or forced half smile.”
“Nothing in this world can cause a person to change so radically. No longer do circumstances or people determine the condition under your skin. You can now respond to the troublesome people in your life with unconditional love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. By yielding to the Spirit of God, an infinite, endless supply flows through you. There is enough for a minor irritation or a major tragedy.”
Those with BPD must choose to believe that they are defined as a “child of God.” This is their identity; they are in legal union with Christ and their status in God’s eyes is as though they were Jesus Christ himself.
Next, those with BPD may experience recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-mutilating behavior. Their biblical goal, says Wiseman, is to internalize the truth that they belong to God and that he will supply an escape for them. Those with BPD oftentimes believe that suicide is the only way of escaping their pain. They may also self-mutilate in order to feel alive or escape from pain. Indeed, as Ed Welch notes, those who self-mutilate want to live but they do not know how to deal with their intense emotions. He enjoins those who engage in such behavior to:
“slow down and consider what is happening. The self-injury cycle has its reasons, but it quickly becomes automatic. Your emotions tell you what to do and you robotically respond. Lies become a way of life that distances you from people who love you and could help you.” Yes, slowing down can seem dangerous when your inner screams are getting louder and you feel that your only escape may soon be blocked. But there is another way. It is a path of wisdom, and wise people begin it by considering their ways.”
It can be difficult to stop this cycle once it begins, Wiseman notes. Nevertheless, as Ed Welch continues, it is important that those who love them inculcate biblical truths in order to help them:
“You don’t injure yourself for the good of others. Instead, it is about you and how you make your own life work. . . . If you keep moving back into self-injury, notice how your behavior is more intentional than it seems. You are doing what you want to do. If you are not learning from past self-abuse, you don’t want to change. For example, are you putting barriers between yourself and your self-abuse strategies?”