Wednesday, August 31, 2016

On Vulnerability, Bipolar and How to Endure

 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
    and their inheritance will endure forever.
~Psalm 37:18 

It's the days of confusion which run into the dark of night. I have lost count of it all since those two weeks in a Budapest hospital. I cannot tell you when I started on this medicine or that one.

All I know is that it takes time, some times until eternity, to feel like yourself again. 

As the night descends, I feel myself start to shake. The darkness and the fear return. Irrational and bold, it slashes through my mind.

I ask 'how will I rest my weary head and sleep?'

There is only one person I want to talk to. My Daddy.

I call him. We talk briefly. Then I ask him to pray. He knows I am scared. He knows I need God's peace. And so He storms the gates of Heaven.

He speaks of the beauty of Christ's work. The fullness of His victory over evil. The power of redemption. The glory of the life to come.

He does everything in his power in Christ, to stand between me and evil. It has done something beautiful to anchor me to all that is good of God.

Yet still the night is cold. I shiver as I lay my head down to sleep. I ask my beloved to put his arms around me and pray me to rest. It comes. But the battle remains.

And all the while, yes all the while, I am being held.

How can I struggle so when the Lord is faithful holding me near?

The bipolar is part of the reason.

How can I trust my mind when it ought to be a dear companion, but has failed me when I needed it most?

How can I trust God, when He did not intervene to save me from the hospital?

How can I trust my husband, when he is only human and can't heal me?

In these moments I realize I must simply endure. Endure the dark of night. Its seemingly endless parade of thoughts that choke out the sleep. Endure the medicine changes. How it strips my dignity, the side effects which leave me unsure. Endure the label. All of those conversations and this whole bipolar is the proverbial elephant, but somehow, I try to keep it all normal.

Endure when I feel abandoned by God because He has not taken it all away.

Endure and learn. Learn what it is that God is always holding me. He owns me forever. He sees the end from the beginning. I am safe in His grasp. Learn the dignity of standing on my own two feet no matter what bipolar throws at me. Learn people love me and see me as {much} more than I see myself.

Learn God has not abandoned me but is allowing this pain to craft me into the image of His Son. He is the master and knows exactly what He is doing.

Let my Dad and my husband love me, even though they cannot take away the diagnosis or its pain.

Rest in all that is greater than me. Trust the divine plan. Fight. Fight. Fight.

So that in those dark nights when I am shaking, I see clearly the promise. There is another side of the ocean of pain, uncertainty and struggle. There is a heavenly shore. I am being held by hands which will feel more and more sure the further I go. There is no doubt where my journey will end. Jesus has given everything to make that true. 

One moment, one breath at a time, beloved, we will endure. Hallelujah, we will endure.

{Lots of people liked this post, my last post at a 'A Life Overseas' here it is!}


Thursday, August 11, 2016

On Vulnerability, Bipolar and Wholeness

I talk to her, this new psychologist/therapist, with my head cast down. 'Yes, bipolar runs in my family' I say. It's a statement that squeaks out of my mouth with this oppressive weight of...shame.

She says the first, second and third time I see her, 'I want you to look at bipolar as a good thing; to reorient your thinking.' I start to see how she is saying 'God knows He made you this way. It is not a surprise but by design. You can learn to embrace it.'

And so I have been seeking to do that. But it is hard.

I have met many new people this last year. Because God has made me quite transparent, if I don't share about my bipolar, I feel like I am hiding something. It's a deep part of me that longs to be known.

Yet, once I do, I can feel the label, oh this label, sticking harder to me.

I love names, but not this one. 

The name, bipolar, feels so very not enough and yet too much. As I have thought on it, I am convinced that it will have an altogether new name in Heaven. Something so beautiful, it would hurt our ears to hear it now.

I love this analogy in C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. It is one of my favorite books; a journey between Heaven and Hell. There is a man with a grotesque lizard sunk into his shoulder, speaking lies constantly. He is asked if he is willing to kill it. He seems unwilling, afraid of what will happen. But the transformation happens anyway. And instead of killing him the lizard becomes a white horse and with it the man will ride the heights of Glory.

So bipolar will be for me One Day. And for you, your label may be the same or something else altogether, but the God of redemption promises to transform it into what is altogether new.

Yet, even more, God is giving me the courage to believe that this transformation can happen now.

To believe this, is to crush the power of the Enemy to hold my life ransom while I await Heaven. And for all I hold dear, my husband, my children, the ministry God has given me, I must stand against evil.

Not bipolar, but the lies that make a mountain which keeps me from dreaming and loving and living.

When I hear the word 'bipolar', I think of something that wants to tear me apart. It wants to pull me to the heights or plunge me to the depths, all the while reconstructing what is real.

And yes, in this, my Savior is standing between me and this web of lies, this mountain of doubt, this hand of the Destroyer. His fierce eyes stare down the Enemy. His passionate love pierces my heart. 

With all that He is, He says 'no more!' 

It's that drum I will beat again. 'No more shame. No more doubt. No more darkness. No more fear. No more shadow. No more pain. No more!!'

Yes here. Yes now. And yes how.


In part, yes. 

Because I am tired of stories of people believing or hearing from others that they aren't trusting God if they take medicine. Medicines, are things we have that people didn't have years ago, Precious, beloved Christian people who died or who completely, irrevocably went crazy. 

The proper medicine keeps us here in this world without premature exits. It gives us what we need to lead a 'normal' life. And I will be so bold as to say to their shame God is saying 'No more!'

Yet we know. Oh how we know. Medicine cannot liberate our soul. It cannot make us whole.

And here is the magic and mystery. As we take on the label and don't live our life running from it, we see it becoming something beloved, leading us again and again and again to our Savior. It is the staff of humility, a reminder of who we lean on. It is also a way of coming home to just how God made us.

As I was sitting and listening to my psychologist, I felt the faintest glimmer of hope. Later while I was walking and listening to Tim Keller's book on prayerit turned to full light. 'God made me bipolar, and this is what that means!'

My whole life I have struggled with being too much. Too emotional. Too driven. Too moody;) Too smart. Too awkward. The list goes on, and well, you get the point. 

Tim Keller was talking about the various elements of prayer. As he talked about the psalms he was saying how no one person could have written them. It took the extroverted and introverted, the sanguine and the melancholy, the right-brained and left-brained. (This is a loose paraphrase) 

I am not saying I could have written all of the psalms, but all of the various, diverse, polar-opposite parts of me can understand the psalms uniquely. 

For I have acutely experienced the heights of joy and the depths of pain. I love poetry and the symmetry and order of math. I have both shouted a psalm from the mountaintops of Barcelona and taken it deep into my soul in the dark of a Budapest night. 

When I asked my psychologist, 'can I really, genuinely be all of these things?' Emphatically she said 'yes!'

I am bipolar and yet I am not. I am whole. I am God's. I am bought with a price. I am ransomed uniquely for the joy of His Glory. 

I am infinitely more than a label and yet, if I let it, this label can lead me home and to a white horse.

For it leads me Unto Grace. Unto Joy. Unto Life. Unto God.

(when I picture myself whole and God's, this is my prayer and joy to taste in part)


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