Standing With Her in the Rain

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“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2, NLT

By Lisa Schubert, Guest Author

Samantha issued commands to the person on the other end of the line. When she hung up, the rant continued against our church, our staff, the weather, and this meal that would serve as her Thanksgiving dinner. I had to let her go mid-rant, but not before reminding her that I would keep her in my prayers.

Samantha approached me outside the church on Thanksgiving morning with her hair disheveled and her coat covered with dirt smudges and raindrops. She demanded to borrow my cell phone to find if the Thanksgiving dinner she had requested from a charitable organization would be ready for pick-up in an hour. I was in a hurry. I needed to be inside preparing to lead worship. I begrudgingly let her borrow my phone, but I insisted on dialing the number myself and standing with her in the gentle rain.

Cross-in-the-Rain-

My encounters with Samantha have continued over the past few months. She’s almost always confused, angry, and paranoid. She tells stories about growing up with another member of our staff, who never met her until recently. It’s hard to know how to respond to Samantha.

A friend called me recently to ask if our church had any resources for helping congregations to welcome those who struggle with mental illness. I pointed her in a few directions, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at www.nami.org. Even as I offered her the information, I felt uneasy. Connecting with those who have mental illnesses is a complex, difficult journey.

It was raining again on Monday when I saw Samantha. She was sitting in the front lobby of the church. She shouted at me as I walked out the door, “Be careful out there! Two guys tried to kidnap me, and I wouldn’t want that to happen to you.” Unwilling to believe her, I replied, “Samantha, I’m sorry you had a rough morning. I’ll be thinking of you. Hope your day gets better.” I continued out the church doors and opened my umbrella.

I later discovered that Samantha was mugged that morning. Thankfully, the police believed her while I had blown her off. They arrested the alleged perpetrators that afternoon.

I’m embarrassed by my lack of gentleness and compassion toward Samantha, and I know I’m not alone. I wonder what it means for the Church to embrace, accept and listen to those who have mental illnesses. I wonder how church leaders like myself can grow and help others to deepen their care for people like Samantha.

There are no simple answers, but I think the answer starts in a simple place:

We stand with them in the rain.

Lisa Schubert is Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Formation of North United Methodist Church, Indianapolis.

A Very Dark Room

“Must I then, indeed,  Pain, live with you

All through my life? –sharing my fire, my bed,

And, when I feed myself, feeding you, too?”

 Edna St. Vincent Millay

The critical issue many face is just trying to survive the next episode of depression or mania.  Somehow I think that cohabitating with something that is trying to kill you is especially disturbing.  Depression is my mortal enemy and here I am, giving in and actually allowing it to destroy me. How crazy is that?

In a way, it seems sinister, the hair-raising stuff of scary movies. It’s the parasite that makes its residence in the body of its host.  (It sounds like a storyline out of Star Trek.) Some of us get absorbed into a dark melancholy. We instinctively carry despair and despondency wherever we go. It’s hard, but I really believe it’s crucial for afflicted believers to begin to worship again (and again.)

I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit absorbs much of the venom Himself.

When my depression slumbers, life proceeds fairly well.  I can play with my kids, and be a good husband, friend, and neighbor.  Everything seems quiet and normal.  But when the dragon awakes, watch out, there’s going to be ‘hell to pay.’  There were many terrible, dark days that I simply couldn’t get out of bed. I was plagued with awful, dark thoughts. Meds didn’t seem to help me. I felt completely lost.

Depression might strike at any time, and exactly when, you can never be too sure. “How will I handle it next time? Will I be in shape for Christmas, or will I lose it again this year? I just don’t know.” That’s the depressive way. But you know, the Holy Spirit ministers yet, and He will touch my heart again. He gently cares for the depressed.

“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,”

2 Corinthians 7:6

My wife and I were missionaries in Mexico for almost three years.  We lived in a “burnt out” and very small trailer, with very sporadic electricity, and no running water. We had a 55-gallon drum for our drinking water, and we tried our best to avoid the mosquito larvae. And part of that time we had to park on the slanted slopes of a volcano. I always wondered what we would do if it decided to erupt.

Sometimes it feels like that, I’m just waiting for the next flare-up of another bout of depression.

“You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!”

Psalm 139:5-6

I am glad that God decided to intervene in my life.  Without question, I need Him to watch over me. I have to believe that He will keep rescuing me over and over. As a believer in Jesus, I know he has put his hands on me.  He shields me from the dragon. 

I have to believe that he protects me from the worst of it.  The Holy Spirit absorbs much of the venom Himself.  I’m very glad that I belong to Him! My fear of a plummeting relapse is now His concern. I bear it no more. It is now His responsibility.

Your brother-in-arms,

Bryan 

 

You can check out my new website at alaskabibleteacher.com

 

When It’s Far Too Dark

Depression has been called the “common cold” of mental disorders, and one source estimates that it disrupts the lives of 30 to 40 million Americans.

But for many, a cold isn’t even close to describing their depression; it’s often very challenging and very destructive.
Here are nine things you must do right now:
  • Avoid being alone.  Force yourself to be with people. (I know “force” is a strong word, but if that is what it takes!) You must find fellowship now.
  • Go to church. God’s people and wise elders can direct and guide you. The Church is God’s way of helping you walk through darkness and depression. They’re to be a source of authentic blessing to those who struggle.
  • Seek help from medical professionals. This will probably require some humility.  Reach out to someone who will understand. (There meds that might help you.)
  • Sing out loud. It sounds crazy, but music can uplift your spirit as it did for King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23). Get an iPod and fill it with good music. Praise and give thanks.  This can really push back the darkness.  
  • Lean heavily on the power of God’s Word. Write out verses; listen to the teachers Tear apart a book of the Bible and then put it back together!.
  • Read the Psalms, for these really are God’s medicine for your spirit. Each one of them are divinely inspired; they have been tried over and over through many centuries by believers as a book of prayer. They’re for any need you might have.
  • Learn conversational prayer. Talk to your Father as you would talk to a friend. He’s waitung for you to come closer. Don’t get religious here, rather just talk to Him. Also, listen. He likes to talk too.
  • Rest confidently in the presence of God’s Spirit.Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance” Psalm 42:5. 
  • Remember that God is not against you, He is definitely on your side. He’s very close to you right now. “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18.

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?”

Romans 8:31-32, Message

“God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns”

Philippians 1:6

Please keep coming back to Brokenbelievers. 

Use the search button on the site. You’ll find lots of good teaching which can help you sort things out.  There over 1,400 posts available here, and we maybe can help. And if you comment on any post, or via email we’ll read it, so much of this ministry comes when we connect with each others like this. 

Linda and I are no meand medical professionals, however, I’m an evangelical pastor, and Linda is a wise believer who has lived through many storms. We both have been challenged with being disciples of Jesus, having had our times in the dark. We promise to help, if we can. 

And we both can pray.

Clearing Your Head

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.”

     Philip Yancey

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.

 

 

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