TRAVELING MERCIES [The Journey]

Things can get pretty grim just living life.  But add a disability, and suddenly blam! It gets worse.  A mental illness intensifies life, and the weird concoction of symptoms and hospitals, therapists and medications and family/friends is a bit daunting for anyone. Imagine, that it’s a bit like running through the wilderness slathered in ‘bacon grease,’ trying to stay ahead from the bears (I’m writing this from Alaska, hence the bear imagery, lol.)

My walk with Jesus has extreme variations (at least, on my part.)  I’m up, and then I’m down.  I’m on fire and then I’m cold.  I struggle to attempt at least a modicum of consistency, wishing I could just put two ‘good days’ together.  I am ashamed by this volatility.  The apostle Peter, or David are probably the only guys in scripture I can really understand.

The impulsivity of my mental illness has driven me to turn my credit cards over to Lynn.  I try to avoid liquor stores, porn sites, and urges to strip off my clothes and run down Pioneer Avenue.  I definitely try to go to Church, read the Bible and pray.  But I have been known to hallucinate, I hear things, and get awfully paranoid.  I’m always, it seems just one step ahead of my psychiatrist in avoiding the hospital.  (And I want to keep it that way.) And suicidality is an almost real monster– always lurking for me under my bed.

But I have also learned many other things from being a mentally ill believer:

  • When its really dark, His love always comes through. He understands me. He intentionally ‘looks’ for me. He’ll never quit on me.
  • My discipleship is not about the externals of my theology, but it’s about romance from my heart.
  • In my pathetic brokenness, He is my strength and my shield. Always.
  • Worship and prayer are more like invasive “medical procedures” that keep me alive.
  • Love. I’m learning to be kinder and more aware of others then ever before.
  • I want to live in the Light and respond to others in Christlike way. Never out of my fallen sinfulness.

I suppose I could add more, if I thought about it.  Ultimately, it all comes down to the presence of Jesus Christ coming to meet me, to forgive me and to change me.  This simple blog is saturated with posts that other Brokenbelievers can wade through, and some just might help, lol.

It’s time to slide!

The title of this post alludes to a quote I found. I’ve gently modified it. Not sure where I found it. But it gives the explanation for all that I’ve said:

“Life should NOT be a journey to heaven with the
intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well
preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways,
with bruises and band-aids, and some tears as well, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming…
“WOO HOO what a ride!”

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MOTHER TERESA’S HEART, [Mercy]

“Intense love does not measure; it just gives”

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8, NLT

These are all quotes from Mother Teresa, born ‘Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu’, 1910-1997. Here are some of the things she wrote or said. I hope they will inspire and encourage.

 

Be the eyes of God. See what He sees.
  • See the world as God sees the world.
  • When God sees a homeless man. He sees a precious person who has a painful life, whom everyone else has cast aside.
  • When God sees people fighting against each other, He is grieved because they have allowed their small differences to destroy what they have in common.
  • When He sees a child without parents, He sees the lonely heart abandoned by people who themselves have pain.
  • See what God sees.
Be the ears of God. Hear what He hears.
  • God hears the silent tears of the lonely. He hears the voices of the oppressed. He hears the shouts of injustice. He hears the cries of pain.
  • Learn to listen and hear as God hears.
Be the mind of God. Think as He thinks.
  • Seek to understand the mind of God, to think as He thinks. Observe things around you and have conversations with Him. Seek His wisdom and knowledge. Know that He wants to bring you to a higher consciousness of His Kingdom.
Seek to understand the heart of God.
  • Be the heart of God. Feel what He feels.Feel the pain He feels for those who suffer. Feel the tears He feels for the lonely. Feel the magnitude of His great love and compassion for us His creation.
  • The heart of God is filled with overflowing love and He desires us to participate in His work to bring back wholeness to the world. See that the heart of God is indeed filled with unconditional love.
Be the hands of God. Do as He does.
  • God asks us to take everything we have learned from Him and change things. He asks us to use our hands to do His work: To stand up when there is injustice. To love as He loves. To do things no one else wants to do. By making a connection, volunteering, joining a community or offering to help, we do what God hopes for us all to do: love people to Him.
  • Listen to God and do what He beckons you to do. There is so much that needs to be done, but so few persons willing to do the work of God. We can no longer be just bystanders on the side of the road asking God for handouts, comfort and security. We each have a part in His great plan to bring salvation to the world.
  • Many believe that being spiritual is cerebral. Our minds seek only to contemplate and meditate on God, but that is only part of it. Thinking on God is 1% spirituality. Doing the work of our contemplations is 99% of it.
  • Action above all is what is hardest for us to do; yet, ACTION is the fruit of deep spirituality. Contemplation may be spiritual, but when there is no action behind our spiritual thoughts, they become worthless.

Like the Good Samaritan, what matters is that love is manifested into action. Not just concern, not just prayer, and not just sympathy, but ACTION.

  • The energy that gets the ball rolling and sets God’s love into motion is ACTION.
  • So many of us pray when someone needs help, yet, no one just goes on in and helps. We pray for someone else to do the work, but perhaps we are the ones who should heed our own prayers.
A person of God, sees, hears, thinks, feels and then DOES.
  • Spiritual thoughts are fruitless until they become a part of your life. One who does, follows through with what he has learned and produces fruit. It is the result of our conversations with God. One who thinks only entertains himself. One who does, entertains God.
  • God is excited when we allow our hands to be His hands, because only then can things begin to happen. Only then can work be accomplished.
  • We can no longer remain complacent and removed from everything. He challenges us to walk along with Him and be His eyes, ears, mind, heart and hands to do His work. To walk a closer walk with Him.
When our hands do as God does, then we are truly walking side by side with Him toward the Kingdom of God.

“We have not come into the world to be numbered; we have been created for a purpose; for great things: to love and be loved.

Mother Teresa

Sources: http://epistle.us/articles/deeperspirituality.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa
 
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MORE BUMBLE THEN BELIEVER, [Aging]

A Bumble with a tender heart

It’s strange to be in the position of being older.  A whirlwind of days and nights swirl from this human drama, and I think I may be starting thinking about my exit— Lord willing, stage right.

I’m supposed to be a veteran now– a mature believer.  I’m not supposed to get stressed.  However, age is a brutal teacher– and it seems we have to learn so dang fast, it’s like trying to drink from a fire hose. (Just the other day three teeth almost came out from the blast.)

Getting old is great in some ways. I only wish I could do it more gracefully.

On top of it all, it seems to me like my sin has poisoned the air that others must breathe.  I have contaminated so much. You might just say, I have ‘soured’ everyone’s milk.  “Learning to live with the  regrets” is a class that we should add to the local high school’s curriculum. It certainly would be useful.

A old friend is celebrating her birthday so I volleyed a semi serious “tongue and cheek” regret at her.  But then, I suddenly realized that there is a point when we realize that behind every older person, is someone else wondering what the hell has happened, and how did it get this way so fast? It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.

As a Christian, I tentatively believe that this world I’m in, has folded open for me, and God has specified a direction.  I do contend though, unbelief is easier on a certain level, but I do not intend to take any detours.  Perhaps the real trick about reading a map in the car is that you most likely won’t get it folded back the same way ever again.  You must learn to accept this. And as a rule, maps seldom reveal the best detours.

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
    until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
    I will carry you along and save you.”

Isaiah 46:4, NLT

I must admit to having a connection to “Bumble”, that crazy, loveable, abominable snowman in one of those schlocky, animated children TV classics from my youth.  I guess I identify with that ‘misfit’ yeti— someone who finally sees the light, but only when all his teeth are pulled!  Somewhere in that show he seemed almost good,  but didn’t we all wonder for a while if he would come around or not?

I  also wonder about the thief on the cross who got his ticket punched by Jesus at the last possible moment.  When we finally make it to heaven, we will find him there laughing and celebrating like everyone else, just like he belonged.  I guess grace does that to a person.

“What does it matter?  All is Grace” — Georges Bernanos.

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AN INCONVENIENT MADNESS

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Very simply, Bipolar disorder are mood swings that are characterized by major shifts between mania and depression. It’s usually intense and disabling.

Depression: There are days when I wake up and I don’t like what I see in the mirror. At times a deep and profound sadness seems to grip me like a vise. It’s like a huge heavy grey cloak covers me, and I can’t shake it off. Typically I hide and crawl into bed for weeks at a time. All is hopeless and I despair of life. This is Bipolar depression and I’m slowly learning that I can shake it free.

Mania: When I’m manic it’s as though I have wings! I’m blasted with a special grace which makes me creative and intelligent and superior to mere mortals.  I become energetically impulsive and irritably crass. It’s all about ME! Thankfully these times don’t happen too often. These moods don’t last long but they’re intense. A measure of freedom can also be found.

Medication prescribed by my psychiatrist helps smooth things out. It was hard to adjust to taking them, but now I know I did the right thing. It’s been over 10 years since my diagnosis and I suppose I have the dubious honor of just surviving. I have several scars on my wrists that remind me of a long journey. Those afflicted will understand.

It has been suggested that Bipolar people can become more empathetic and sensitive to the suffering of others. I’d like to believe that this is true. This seems like a biblical idea.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT

 “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.”

Isaiah 50:4

For the broken believer, I’m confident that the Lord can turn my mental illness into something positive and good. The Holy Spirit empowers the Christian to do the extraordinary. It’s in our weaknesses we can become strong. We are fully enough in Christ. (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I stepped down from my positions as a pastor and a Bible instructor when the Bipolar symptoms became clear. This wasn’t easy but I knew it was what God wanted. Today I still speak on occasion at a local Church. I also minister here at Brokenbelievers.com. I try to post everyday and I get constant feedback from those who are in need. Just a single post, a list of 24 hour crisis hotlines, averages 175 hits a day by itself! (http://brokenbelievers.com/247-crisis-lines/) I do covet your prayers for Brokenbelievers.

This ministry would never have happened unless I was “detoured” by my Bipolar.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Romans 8:28

I want to urge you to look at the big picture of mental illness. Sure it can be remarkably disruptive, but the Lord can transform you. Meds and therapy are vital for me. Prayer and Bible reading even more so. You can find a way through this. It’s not easy. Don’t fight the illness. The Father works close to His “special” children. There is a real and abiding hope for you. I’m convinced you can find it.

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