BrokenBelievers: My Story, Redux

 

Hello!

My name is Bryan Lowe and I guide this blog, BrokenBelievers.com. I’m also a Christian pastor and Bible teacher who struggles with a ripping case of Bipolar Disorder I, and a walloping dose of Hepatitis C  (which I contracted using IV drugs.)

I have a burden for a blog that will concern itself with the challenges of mentally ill Christian believers, as well as key issues such as brokenness and humility. These seem to be critical issues, but are largely ignored and misunderstood by the mainstream church. The following list has all happened in the last five years. My shaky faith has been really challenged by these events.   

  • Death of our daughter, Elizabeth
  • Chemical burns to my lungs due to a workplace accident
  • Diagnosis of Bipolar disorder
  • Brain tumor/surgery ( I now have to walk with a cane)
  • Hepatitis C with encephalopathy issues, chronic nausea
  • Panic Attacks, (loads of fun!)
  • Non-healing sores, a low immune system (yes, I do vitamins)
  • Currently on daily meds–Lithium, Seroquil and Zoloft, (mood-stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants.)

As you can well imagine, ministry became almost impossible, doors quickly closed as word spread. After all, who wants a psychotic pastor? I had several hospitalizations due to Bipolar disorder, esp. when I have had suicidal tendencies/self-harm issues. I have scars on my wrists from very bad times. I suffer from paranoid delusions and hearing voices. For obvious reasons, I resigned as a senior pastor, which was hard because it was the only thing I ever wanted to do. Sometimes, I feel like Job from the Old Testament (and my poor wife, “Joblynn”  has endured as well). I really, really struggled with anger towards God. I still fight with this when life grows dark. So this is what I have had to deal with. From this I want to speak into the darkness, and try to help any who also seek help. I want to be the guy handing out flashlights to the desperate people in the dark. Jesus frees us and leads us to hope. His Word is trustworthy, and his spirit is gentle. 

BrokenBelievers.com is making ministry available to the huge numbers of God-loving Christian Believers who struggle with mental illness.  As Jesus’ disciple, just how much trial am I expected to take, and exactly how do I live?  I would really like it if you had time to go through the web site. There are approximately 130 posts and find something that “rings your bell”. I know that that is a lot, but the list of contents is found in the left column, and a new post is added almost everyday. 

Favorite Thoughts–For now, I offer up some quotes that have personally helped me through the murky darkness. 

  • “God rescues us by breaking us, by shattering our strength and wiping out our resistance.” –A. W. Tozer
  • I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”–Mother Teresa
  • “Our life is full of brokenness – broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live with that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God’s faithful presence in our lives.” –Henri Nouwen
  • “The power of the Church is not a parade of flawless people, but of a flawless Christ who embraces our flaws. The Church is not made up of whole people, rather of the broken people who find wholeness in a Christ who was broken for us.”–Mike Yaconelli
  • “I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am.” –John Newton
  • It’s not about perfection; it’s about our intimacy with God, or our connection, our relationship with God. Once we get through that, once we realize that we can be imperfect, flawed, broken; those kinds of things are the ingredients of spirituality.”–Mike Yaconelli
  • “If the church remains self-righteously aloof from failures, irreligious and immoral people, it cannot enter justified into God’s kingdom. But if it is constantly aware of its guilt and sin, it can live in joyous awareness of forgiveness. The promise has been given to it that anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”-Brennan Manning

Favorite Authors–My favorite authors are the ones who minister to me in my pain and issues. These books are gold to me, and I scour the web looking for their teachings. I don’t follow men, but I do receive from their ministries.  If you follow any of these writers, you will get a sense of where I am coming from, and what exactly is the scope of this blog.  If your curious, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to share more. 

  • Mike Yaconelli– Messy Spirituality; Dangerous Wonder
  • Eugene Peterson– The Message Bible; A Long Obedience in One Direction; Subversive Christianity
  • Brennan Manning–The Lion and the Lamb; Ragamuffin Gospel; Abba’s Child
  • John Piper– When the Darkness Will Not Lift; Desiring God 
  • Henri Nouwen–The Wounded Healer
  • Anne Lamont– Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith.
  • Kay Redfield Jameson– Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament; An Unquiet Mind
  • Georges Bernanos– A Diary of Country Priest
  • AW Tozer, anything– The Pursuit of God
  • Francis Frangipane–The Place of Immunity
  • CS Lewis– Grief Observed; Mere Christianity
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer– The Cost of Discipleship; Life Together
  • English Standard Version Study Bible–Great version!

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Just One Step Ahead

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“Life here feels like you were just left off here one day, with no instruction manual, and no idea of what you were supposed to do; how to fit in; how to find a day’s relief from the anxiety, how to keep your beloved alive; how to stay one step ahead of abyss.”

Anne Lamott

The reality is this: so much happens that we’re not in control of. Many deluded souls think they have it by the handle; that they have it figured out. But not me. They say that some circus performers are routinely automatic when walking the tightrope. All though I can recognize the skill, I am terribly afraid of heights.

Life comes at us so fast, racing at us relentlessly. And it is never linear or methodical, there are bumps and curves that must be navigated.

I believe that the Bible– God’s very word, has impressive, supernatural power. It guides me when all other ‘influences’ fail and falter.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
    and a light for my path.”

Psalm 119:105

I live for, and love, the guidance He gives. There is so much adventure to it all. To be in harmony with  Him (and His Will) is a wonderful thing. I don’t pretend that I’m walking alone. A solitary mouse moving through the intricate maze. Rather, I seek the direction of the One who is my Companion. (He knows the way.) And He loves me!

“Who is that coming up from the wilderness,
    leaning on her beloved?”

Song of Solomon 8:5

He is with you in this wilderness.

Being mentally disabled isn’t easy, but who says it should be? Whatever wilderness we find ourselves in is punctuated by His presence. He is there, and He can be leaned on. There are no quick fixes; there is only His strong presence. He is with you in this wilderness.

bry-signat

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