“The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
Words of David, 1 Samuel 17:37
I wrote this post 21 years ago. To look back has been very helpful.
“In recent weeks I’ve gone through a time of profound confusion. My grip on reality has been tenuous at best. I’ve had a struggle with a depersonalizing sense, I seem not to “see” reality as I used to. Everything seems increasingly odd, and disjointed. I see myself outside myself. Everything is knotted up.”
“I have had bouts with this before. And yet every time the Father has “fathered” me. I have been led through each bout. In many ways, the clinical depression has changed, now it slams. It used to be kind of low grade—a grey fog, a steady and tedious despair, but now its more like a black lightning bolt.”
“I have had suicidal urges and thinking. I hate handling a kitchen knife, as I get the urge to plunge it into my chest. It’s funny like that, I call out to Jesus and He truly does find me. He straightens out my knotted life has only He can.”
“This blog initially started off in September 2009 following the idea of “broken believers.” Perhaps it was overly ambitious. But my heart’s desire is to be transparent and very honest. I still want to see this happen, and it does, sometimes.
I know I am no super saint with just the right answer for everyone. If I ever made this impression, please forgive me.
You see, I am the broken believer behind this blog.
The apostle Paul once wrote, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV).
The troubles we face don’t seem light or momentary. They feel heavy and often permanent. Especially when one struggles with troubles like mental illness, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes, physical disabilities, and cancer. Surely Paul was mistaken when he described our troubles as light and momentary. Perhaps his life was a different experience?
No, Paul knew what he was talking about; he knew about all about troubles.
He was flogged and beaten, threatened with stoning, and thrown in jail multiple times for proclaiming Christ. He was shipwrecked not once, not twice, but three times. Although the Bible doesn’t tell us how Paul died, other historical documents suggest that he was beheaded.
Once he chose to follow Christ and proclaim His name, Paul’s life was anything but easy, his troubles anything but light and momentary. And yet, compared to the eternal glory his passion for Christ was earning for him, he could truthfully call them light and momentary.
Our burdens become light when we give them to Jesus.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV). He will carry the load if only we are willing to give it up. Sometimes he brings fellow believers alongside to help with this.
Our troubles become momentary when we see them from an eternal perspective. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8 (NIV). In our earthly bodies we are bound by time and can be easily fooled by it.
In God’s kingdom, time becomes somewhat irrelevant.
There are going to be times when things become exceptionally clear to you.
Those moments burst into our muddled thinking and bring crystal clarity to us. It doesn’t happen very often, but through it, we start to see something in our present situation. Its icy water splashed into our sleepy faces. It completely adjusts us and we are launched into a startling awareness of our hearts, minds, and relationships.
To the mentally ill, it verges on not quite enough (but sometimes it is) when we are brought into this place. Alert and awake, we are ushered into a certain sense of what is real, and what isn’t. Change often hinges on this special discernment; it truly is an amazing work of the Holy Spirit. We discover we can’t change ourselves, but the Spirit is the only one who can.
The Bible and its promises are soaked with His power.
There is a certain hope and security that comes from His restoration of our mixed-up lives. His work is quite exceptional, for He is an Artisan. However, we will never be happy or at peace if we refuse. And if we decide poorly we will get stuck inside a deep loneliness, and failure– the realization of being cast aside.
It’s scary, but so much is based on what we decide in these chosen times.
Depression and darkness will continue to pelt us. But there is no other authentic shelter to be found! Through our stubbornness and pride, we will be soaked through and through. But even in this dejected state, we can still decide to harden our hearts. If we do not choose Him, we will stumble in our own darkness and sin. This is a miserable place, I have been there. Trust me, I understand completely.
We dare not let the darkness we face confuse us.
We most certainly should not let this happen. On just a volitional basis (thinking) we must not let the darkness reassert itself into our lives. We are delivered by what the Lord Jesus has done for us. He shepherds us through a darkness that is quite convoluted and complex. (Think— being lost in a minefield at night.)
It advances on us and so many can’t resist its strength. But being mentally ill is not something that someone can just decide on, it is real and carries a poison that few can resist. Any odd romanticism of “being a tragically wounded poet” is so foolish, and dangerous.
But the truth is, we have Someone who has volunteered to be our Savior and advocate.
He will speak on our behalf. He alone can escort us through this terrible darkness. Without His voice, we can’t defend ourselves, and we will just deceive ourselves. We are desperately sick, and He is the only cure.
If you are presently struggling, I would tell you that you have a home. It is a place of acceptance and assurance. The cost of depression and delusion can’t even come close to matching even the simplicity and basic place of just being a “minor” disciple of Jesus Christ.
But no matter what has happened, He has been pursuing you, in a deep hope you will respond to Him.
I exhort you to embrace this love and trust Him, even when it gets very hard. But no matter what happens, don’t ever give up.
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”