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!