Wednesday, February 1, 2017

On Vulnerability, Bipolar and the Fight





An ominous, foreboding cloud hovered about me. 

I was in the haze of the heavy sedation which was a part of my stay at Szent Imre Korház in Budapest, Hungary.

I remember very little from these three days in the ICU. But I know I couldn't breathe. I remember struggling to do so from somewhere underneath this dark cloud. I remember wondering 'will I live?'

At this point I was so tired of the fight. I had been struggling to keep my mind as it felt like it could be lost forever. Night and day were visions of heaven and hell. Mostly hell. 

Would I ever be free and live to tell about it? Did I want to face life on the other side of all of this? 

I wasn't afraid of dying. I was bone weary of living. The last week seemed to take 50 years off of my life. So, what now?

As doctors worked inserting all kinds of tubes into me and hundreds of people from all over prayed for me, something changed. 

I awoke on a Sunday morning with the light streaming into the large hospital room, I felt a brilliant hope. The psychiatrist who loved Jesus sat with hands clasped in prayer by my bed. She thrilled as she saw me awake.

I was alive. And I remembered. Husband and children. Family. Friends. So many who wanted me alive. So many who loved me. And most, the supreme love of He who gave His life for me.

I remembered the Fight.

These many weeks I have been sharing about my struggle with bipolar disorder.

As I thought about what would be next. I remembered I was missing a big part of it all.

The Fight.

There is nothing magic about my story over another's. But what must be common is the desire to live; truly live. The desire to continue to believe we are made of something of great value. And along with that value is a fire which can be lit. The longing of the heart to know and live out the reason for being.

This is common to all humanity. Those with mental illness. Those with chronic or debilitating illness. Those who struggle with substance abuse. Those whose lives have fallen apart in divorce or another family crisis. Those who have little dignity and little hope--most definitely them. Those who are happy, healthy and strong, yes these too.

We, all of us, must find our fight.

For me it came somewhere between not being able to breathe and light streaming through a window on a Sunday morning. I had known fight before, but this was different. It was the fight after my whole life came tumbling down.

It was after my worst fears of open failure were playing out. There was nothing to grasp and place over my shivering, disheveled self. This is what all the world was seeing.

My fight couldn't be based on building some kind of external worth. In those days, this was completely gone. I had become the weak. The one who needed care and who was mother and wife to a family who needed lots of care I couldn't give. I was helpless to help myself or those I loved most.

And it was here I truly needed to find my fight.

It didn't come from my desire to win back my reputation. It didn't come from a desire to prove my worth to others. It didn't even come from the desire to love my husband and children, though they are very close to my heart of hearts.


I needed something deeper in this place at the end of all my hopes and dreams for this life. And so it came from the place where all of heaven and earth meet--this longing for the perfect moments. A moment made up of Jesus who died and was raised to life on the third day. A moment made up of a person, me, made in His image. A moment made up of my singular worship of him, what I will do forever and ever. Most deeply, it is made up of His great love which fills all things.

It was the moment awaking in that ICU room. I knew God was real, realest of reals. And I knew He loved me because He can't not love me. His breath is everlasting love, utmost compassion, greatest mercy. He found me there in that hospital and spoke a sunbeam of promise. I would find the strength to overcome. I would live to fight.

Somehow, if I could just find a way to keep touching these moments, I would experience the deepest fire within me. I would find the thing I will do forever. I would find infinite strength; a wholeness which spans far beyond any mental illness or its fallout. I would find love which so claims my heart I am free to fight; free to live.

For the love of God, gripping us, is fierce. It's the kind that looks in the face of all of the broken, shredded and burnt out things around us and in us and says 'No more! Lift your weary head, now I proclaim no more shame, guilt, fear, doubt. No more! Fight for this truth each moment beloved. I am here, always here.'

The Fight. It is yours to take up too. It is yours to find the victory. It is yours to see heaven come to earth and forever change you and the world around you. Whoever, Wherever, Whatever you are and all that has happened to you and through you to deaden your desire to live...

Find your fight. I am right here cheering for you!

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