Encouragement, Mental Health, Spiritual Wellness

Building Walls

If you are like me, when you get hurt by someone you start to build a wall.  You think to yourself “that person will never hurt me again” and the wall goes up.  My question to you today is “is there a wall between your heart and God?”

Have you or do you feel like God has somehow wronged you?  Do you feel that suffering with your illness is unfair?  I used to feel that way.  I would spend hours in prayer asking God “why me?”  I was so absorbed in feeling like a victim I started to build a wall between my heart and God.  I felt betrayed by God because I felt betrayed by my own mind and had no sense of normalcy in my life.  Many ask how a good God can allow suffering?  We need to remember we live in a fallen world and suffering is part of the consequences of that fall.

But we need not get angry with God for the things that we go through that are difficult and trying.  We must remember that God is our hope and our wholeness.  Without Him we are alone with no hope.  The wall we begin to build to keep ourselves from hurting is the very thing keeping us from getting well.  If we separate ourselves from God and others, we only hurt ourselves and we leave ourselves open to attack from the enemy.  God is our shield and buckler and without His protection, we are vulnerable.  Especially those of us who suffer from a mental illness.  Our minds are our greatest weakness and Satan knows this.  If we come out from under the covering of God, we are unprotected behind enemy lines.

The walls we build for our protection are our greatest hinderances to living under the protective hand of God.  Creating barriers always leads to isolation.  Isolation can lead to depression which feeds into anxiety.  This leaves us open and out there for Satan to run amok in our lives.  We must tear down the walls we have built in order to get well and to regain our trust in our God who loves us and only has our best in mind.  Our illnesses are not punishments.  We do not suffer with them for no reason.  We are to use our sufferings to make others strong and to bring awareness to the difficulties that mental illness brings to a life.  We are also tasked with helping to break down the stigma attached to mental illness.  We cannot do any of this is we blame God and build walls.

Let’s tear down those walls and make a difference in the lives of others who suffer!

Encouragement, Mental Health

Being Well While Being Ill

I have prayed for years for God to heal me of my Bipolar Disorder and although I have not been completely healed, at this point, I am well.  It is possible for someone who is ill to be well.  I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but I would like to unpack this a bit.  Wellness does not necessarily mean physical health. I am referring to wellness that penetrates deep into our souls. Wellness only a close relationship with God can bring.

I have learned over the years, that my being well is completely dependent on having a vibrant and deep relationship with God and being compliant with my medication and therapy.  My wellness is a 3-fold prescription.

In the early days of my diagnosis, I thought I didn’t need medication or therapy.  I felt that God would heal my supernaturally and I would never be bothered by Bipolar Disorder.  Oh, I was so wrong.  I started taking my medication and slowly got better but I questioned God constantly about when He was going to heal me.  I didn’t realize that I could be well without being healed.  My mental state improved, and I began therapy, all the while, still praying for healing.  Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with praying for healing.  As a matter of fact, I encourage this, but healing is not the end all to end all.  Deepening our relationship with God through our illnesses is most important.

Over the years, I have went through many rough times with my illness.  Many times, I felt defeated and wanted to give up and not fight any longer, but I would always turn to God and get strengthened.  He was always with me.  When I needed to be in the mental hospital, He was there.  All the while making me stronger and healing my spirit.  When I was so depressed, I could not get out of bed, He was there bringing me hope through the Psalms.  When I was so manic that I went on thousand dollars spending sprees, He was there, giving me hope that my mood would level out and I would be well again.

I have been walking this tightrope since I was 17 but I did not turn to God for help until I was officially diagnosed in 2003.  Since then, I have been on a constant road to wellness. Each episode I would go through was painful and frightening, but I would always come out a bit stronger and a bit wiser.  My God has never let me down.  I will always suffer from this disorder.  I see no end and there is no cure, but I can always make the choice to trust God with it, and to know that each day I live symptom free is a gift.  I am well in the deepest part of me, the part that is so dependent on God that I know without Him, I would be dead.  No exaggerating.  I would have taken my own life by now.  But, strength, wholeness, and wellness, even without healing is possible.  It comes down to a choice.  A choice to trust God and to decide to be well despite being ill.

Christian Living

Complain, Complain, Complain

Have you ever found yourself complaining?  I know I have.  If it isn’t about the weather, it’s cleaning the house, or doing the laundry, or running errands. Virtually anything that goes on during my day, I can find a reason to complain about it.  But, do you find that you don’t like to be around complainers?  They can bring you down or simply annoy you.  Have you ever thought that is how some people see you?  Sobering thought isn’t it.

As much as we complain, have we ever stopped to ask forgiveness from God for our complaints?  There are so many verses in the bible that speak about the Israelites complaining about God to Moses.  So many times, Moses had to talk God out of destroying the Israelites.  Many times, God punished the Israelites for complaining.  I tend to forget about this during my complaint sessions.  How about you?  If God took complaining so seriously in the Old Testament, how much more does He look upon it in our day?  We see in the New Testament that the Scribes and Pharisees were constantly complaining to Jesus and the disciples about infractions they had committed.  Jesus called them vipers.  Woe, what would He call us.

Now I know we live under the blessing of grace and there is forgiveness for our sins, but have you knelt before God and repented of your complaining?  I never thought about this until the other day when I heard someone ask this question.  I thought about it and could honestly answer NO!  How terrible.  God has given me everything I could ever hope for and I find reason to complain. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Complaining is powerful and it is catchy.  Once I begin to complain, I can usually find someone who will jump or board and complain with me.  The adage “misery loves company” is so true.  But what if I turn that around and start praising God for the housework that needs done, because I have a house.  Or if I praise Him for the weather, rain or snow, because it waters the ground and gives creation a rest.  There are so many things to be grateful for and when we start to complain, we need to turn that around and find the praise within our words.  We need to change our attitudes to one of gratefulness and appreciation for all that God has given us.  We need to be less like the Israelites and more like Jesus, who in everything, gave thanks.  And we need to get down on our knees and ask forgiveness each time a complaint enters our minds, even before we speak it.  I think we will start to live a more victorious life if we will put this into practice. Try it… I am.