Mental Health

Judging Harshly

I was having my prayer time with God the other day and I was talking to Him as I always do, and I brought up the fact that I am a bit judgmental.  I asked for forgiveness for that flaw and the Lord clearly impressed upon me this thought…

“the persons we judge most harshly are the people we need to pray for most fiercely and that person may be ourselves”.

Wow.  I had to sit and think about that for a few minutes. I do judge myself harshly and I do not pray for myself all that much.  I am in intercessor and I pray for those whom God places on my heart. I pray all the time.  I pray in the grocery store, in the car, in my kitchen, in my prayer room, basically everywhere. But the subject of my prayer is rarely myself.

This thought niggled at me all day.  Why do I judge myself so harshly?  One reason… I feel like a bit of a failure because I am unable to do simple things that others take for granted because of my illness.  I cannot work, I cannot handle a lot of stress, whether good or bad, I do not react well to time changes so that means I cannot travel.  There are many things that I just cannot do, and I judge myself based on these things, on the “cannot’s”.  Do you do the same thing?  I am sure you do. We all do.  And I found that people who do not have a mental illness judge themselves on the cannot’s of life as well.  So, what does God ask us to do? Pray.

We need to be praying for ourselves. We need to be praying for self-acceptance.  For the ability to stop looking at the “cannot’s” in our lives and focus on the “cans”.  We are able to do more than we give ourselves credit for.  We are special in the eyes of the Lord.  We are not “less than” to Jesus.  So why do we beat ourselves up?   I think part of it is the stigma associated with mental illness.  In society, we are already judged, regardless of who we are, but because of our illness.  Society says that we are not acceptable as we are. That somehow, we should change.

We listen to these false truths, which are nothing more than lies of the enemy, and we judge.  I think it is high time we start praying.  We need to call down the authority of God into our lives to dispatch the enemy from our minds. Prayer is powerful!  Prayer changes things! We need to be praying for ourselves and to stop judging ourselves so harshly. We are perfect in eyes.

We need to see ourselves as he sees us…beautiful, treasured, sacred, His.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Set Apart

So many times, during the up’s and downs of my illness, I would say “I wish I was normal”.  Being normal (without symptoms, without stigma) was a goal I sought after.  I didn’t like feeling different from everyone else and I was ashamed that I had an illness that I could not control.  I didn’t want to tell anyone about my diagnosis because I didn’t want them to think about me differently.  But it was obvious to all around me that I was different.

Early on in my diagnosis, I would search Scripture on healing.  Being healed was my number one priority.  But, while searching the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit kept drawing me to verses that told of Jesus’s story and how he was different.  Jesus didn’t fall into the norm of His day.  He stuck out.  He did not try to conform to the world, He stayed separate.  He was in the world but not of the world.  So, if Jesus wasn’t “normal” why should I strive to be “normal” as defined by the world?

Well the answer is “I should not”.  I began to realize that Bipolar Disorder was my cross to bear.  I didn’t ask for it, but we all have something.  My illness set me apart from the world and yours does too.

We tend to view ourselves as “less than” but really, we’re special.  God allowed our illnesses to set us apart and to make a change in this world concerning mental illness.  We as Christians who suffer have a platform to bring about change as to how we are treated.  We can tell all that God is our strength and hope and that, like Jesus, we are not the norm because we are not supposed to be. Christians without mental illnesses are also set apart from this world, to be a light in the darkness.

So, on one hand, we are special because we are different, and on the other, we are special because we are like Jesus, made in His image! Set apart for a purpose.  I suppose you could say that we are fortunate because our illnesses send us to the feet of Jesus for strength to overcome. Maybe, having a mental illness is what brings us closer to God and for that we can be thankful.  I am not sure I would be as close to Jesus as I am without carrying this burden.  Being healed would be terrific but, as long as I have Bipolar, I will stop striving for normal and stay in the realm of special, just like Jesus!

Uncategorized

Worry and Worship

For most of my life, I’ve been a worrier.  I would worry about finances, my children’s health, my husband being far away in the military, and just about every other thing under the sun. I don’t know if my worry is a product of my illness or if I am just a worrier by nature.  Either way, it has caused me a great deal of anxiety and needless sleepless nights.

My worry really kicked into gear when the 911 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center occurred.  My husband was in the military at that time and he called and told me he was going to war and didn’t know anything else.  Oh my, what a day.  I had to pull myself together enough to tell our four children who were 12, 10, 7, and 4 at the time that we were at war and Daddy was going to fight. Try explaining to a four-year-old about war.  Not an easy nor enviable task.  This time frame ushered in a slew of symptoms I was not equipped to handle. My life became out of control.  My worry became a beast that colored my days.  Fear became a constant companion.

I was not serving the Lord at this time, which I can say only made the situation worse.  I didn’t know where to turn for help.  I was treated for depression which made the worry all the worse because it caused me to go manic. Now I was worried and manic.  It is a wonder I survived.

Fast forward to 2003.  My husband is home, my children are back to a normal life and my illness is raging!  My husband, poor guy, didn’t know what to think. He only knew I was not the same woman he left.  My worry was out of control.  I worried when he would go to the recruiting office for fear it would be bombed.  I worried when my children went out fearing they were somehow targets for enemy attack.  I worried about myself that I was going to implode at any time. This was the time I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  That same time, the Lord met me in my deepest, darkest place.  He gently brought me out of my place of despair and filled me with a hope I had not had in decades.  He also spoke this to my heart… “worry and worship cannot exist in one heart. One has to go”.  I understood immediately that my worry habit was causing my heart to be divided. I needed to make a change.

I chose to worship.  And, you know what? My worry lessened. I was no longer controlled by my out of control emotions.  God was setting me upon a rock and my life was beginning to take shape in Him. It took years of prayer, medication, and therapy to get myself to a place where I no longer worried about things.  I realized I have no control over what happens, but God is in control, at all times, of all things.  Whew! What a relief to finally know and know for certain that my worry will not change things. It will only cause me anxiety and stress which fuels my illness.  The Lord has faithfully and methodically delivered me from worry.  It took some time, but I can honestly say, I no longer worry.  If I am concerned with a situation, I take it to God, leave it with Him and go about my business.  I have never been more at ease.

My husband and my family are ever so grateful to God for giving them back the wife and mother they once had. And I am so grateful that He has brought me through, stronger and He will do the same for you.  You need but ask.