Sometimes it seems like bruises are part of life’s gift package to us.
Dancers are some of the most talented people I know. Their gracefulness can be seen both on and off the stage. A dancer’s training is far from easy. But by choosing to become dancers they have made a decision to absorb pain.
Their toes and feet are blistered and bruised; they take constant abuse. Some live with chronic tendonitis. Their feet bleed sometimes, and pain is their constant companion, but they still choose to dance.
Two things to consider.
They choose to dance. Dancers must operate with an iron will and an elegant grace. I suppose that is why they can dance the way they do. They have painfully blended the two.
The scars and bruises often become “badges of honor.” They would rather dance in pain, than not dance at all.
I once heard someone describe depression as having a mental bruise. I think I might understand.
As one prone to depression, I know what it is like to bury myself in my bed for weeks at a time. My own mental bruise was simply more than I could take. There was a sensation of sinking into blackness, a sense of total and complete despair. I felt lost and completely alone.
I prayed. I groaned, and I prayed again.
My sense of being totally lost in sad, dark thoughts was beyond comprehension. Dear reader, this was something quite real, and you must become aware of these things. Some of your friends are suffering, and it is often a hellish and desperate depression.
We would never say that diabetics are that way because of the enemy. The dark one will surely exploit it, but I think you give him far too much credit if you suggest he was able to initiate it. I don’t think Satan has the spiritual “voltage.”
I refuse to hide my mental bruises from those who share my pain. I will make the choice to dance. I’m bruised, but I will try to ignore the pain. I would exult in my God, walk in His love, and “leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture” (Malachi 4:2.)
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”
1-3 God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
5 You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
6 Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
Psalm 23, Message
The Lord wants to escort you to someplace wonderful, it’s where there is a rich rest and a sweet intimacy– in spite of fierce conflict. Everything you need is revealed in Psalm 23, and it’s beautiful.
It is more than good poetry. It’s a way of life.
There is a preciousness just beyond our ‘status quo.’ It is abundant life for eternity. When you have apprehended it, you will understand what I am talking about, and wonder why you’ve missed it for so long. Eternal life has already begun even though many of us don’t walk as if it did. We have eternal life, right here—right now!
There is a place which we can enter where Jesus is all there is.
His dear presence pervades everything, and there is no doubt about His lordship. He rules completely, and He is “all-in-all.” A believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit knows this.
There’s evidence when you have appropriated this deeper life. There will be a surrender of all you have, and you will fully understand what it truly means to be His follower and part of Jesus’flock. There will be a complete renunciation of all rights to yourself. With an insurmountable joy, you will give it all up just to walk with Him.
Live on earth as if you’ve already died, and are now living in heaven with Him.
There must be a definite place to turn your rights over to Him. Perhaps His love has already pressed you into this. Often there will be disillusionment and cynicism about this planet and its ugly ways. You want to escape all its dullness and jadedness. You will step into ‘life-effervescent.’ He intends to walk you through many issues, but if He is close I will suggest you trust Him fully.
If you struggle with a mental illness: clinical depression, bipolar, anxiety issues, or schizophrenia, I want to reassure you, that you are not a “lesser” Christian. And my comments include you. You are not on the ‘scrap heap’ of the Spirit. In so many ways, you can enter in while ordinary people will struggle. And you do need to step into this and discover a life worth living.
A “Psalm 23 life” is yours for the asking. Take it up, humbly and true. It’s your birthright to be with your Shepherd forever.
“Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence.”
I’ve been down this road before.
I guess this is my big issue with Bipolar Disorder (BP); its unpredictability, and the way you fluctuate. You get up in the morning and you immediately have to start analyzing your mood. “Am I more depressed than I was yesterday, or I am speeding up?” Am I acting appropriately, or am I stepping out of line again?”
For BP persons we never can be too sure.
We are always in a state of flux or movement. As BPs who are believers in Jesus, it seems like we have broken every rule in the book, twice. This disorder almost always demands certain hypocrisy– which instills a lot of guilt and shame.
Almost 40 years ago, a visiting pastor to our church came up to me and told me that he had a word from God, especially for me. This was long before I was diagnosed with Bipolar. I can’t remember much, but I do recall him saying, “You are as unstable as water”.
But I can also see now that my instability has made me a deeper, more tolerant person.
I give a lot of latitude to others’ shortcomings. I know how difficult it is to process life and face issues. Because I do this “yo-yo” thing, I can accept inconsistency as a normal part of life. I realize that I’m not perfect, nor is anyone else I know, but I’m learning to make allowances for it.
Sometimes, just being aware is half the battle. And I’m starting to understand God’s grace given to others. I’m learning to be gracious. I’m learning how to love. Maybe this weakness is becoming a strength for me. I hope so.
“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
Originally Published on July 20, 2010 in “Psychology Today”
Let me start by acknowledging what is well known: Manic Depression or Bipolar disorder can be a devastating illness. Affecting at least 1% of the population, it can, untreated, result in suicide, ruined careers and devastated families. Bipolar disorder is often accompanied by alcohol and drug abuse and addiction, criminal and even violent behavior. I acknowledge this because I do not want to make light of the burden this illness places on people’s lives, families, and communities.
On the other hand, the history of the world has been influenced very significantly by people with manic depression (see website www.wholepsychiatry.com for details). They include:
“It seems clear that for at least some people with Bipolar disorder, there is an increased sense of spirituality, creativity, and accomplishment. It may be that having bipolar disorder holds great potential, if one is able to master or effectively channel the energies, which are periodically available, to some higher task. This would of course presume the ability to abstain from harmful drugs and alcohol, to have good character, and at least some supportive relationships and community networks.”
It might be helpful to consider a reconceptualization. Perhaps instead of it being a disorder, we can think of people with bipolarity as having access to unusual potency. This potency will find a way to be outstanding-either in a destructive way, or in a constructive way. If such a choice is presented to the person, perhaps it can open some doors.
“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”