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Weakness Equals Strength

When I was first diagnosed, I always asked “why me?”  “Why did I have Bipolar Disorder?” I had trouble getting past those questions. I didn’t understand what I had done to deserve such a life altering illness.  I would go to counseling and ask my therapist, but she had no answers.  She would tell me that no one truly knows why people get Bipolar, it’s just one of those things. Those answers did nothing to quiet the “why me” questions filling my mind. I spent many days trying to find sense out of something that seemed so senseless.  I also spent many hours talking to God to try to understand.

I would search Scripture and pray for healing, but I could not find the answers I sought.  Then one day, I was reading 2 Corinthians 12 about Paul having a “thorn in his flesh”.  He asked God to take it away, but God said no.  God told Paul…

            “My grace us sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.

It was then that I realized that by asking all those “why me” questions, I was forgetting that God had a plan for me which included my illness. I was looking in when I should have been looking up! I had become so self-centered that I actually blamed God for my illness. Paul reminded me that everything we go through has a purpose.  Paul said he would “boast” of his weakness because it would give God glory. I needed to do the same.

I wanted God to get all the glory for my weaknesses, but how do I boast about a mental illness without alienating people and losing friends? Well, I didn’t.  I told people about my illness and all the while I would remind myself that God will find glory in my weakness.  I lost friends and was judged by some family members, but I did not allow that to keep me form speaking out.  I knew God had allowed this illness into my life for a reason and if I kept quiet about it, I may never find out what that reason was.  I had to be brave.

Do you find yourself hiding your illness? Are you afraid of what others may think?  We must remember that God is our strength and He will get glory from you sharing your illness and your experiences with others. You may be helping someone God puts in your path. They may need to hear your story. We never know what God has planned, but we can be 100% sure that it will work out for our good.  When you are pelted by the “why me?” questions, look up. God has a plan! When you feel weak, remember, God is your strength. Think of Paul and determine to give God glory in everything. Seek God and find your purpose.  Be

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Flawed

Flawed. Have you ever spoken that word over yourself? I know I have. Even before my diagnosis in 2003, I knew there was a part of me that wasn’t quite like everyone else. I was different both in my thoughts and actions. Most people thought that I was super organized and had so much energy to get things accomplished and could function with little sleep. “Wow! I wish I had that much energy” they would say.  Little did I know, this was mania. Or, on the flip side, feeling so low that I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning let alone face getting four kids up and out the door for school each day.  Times were tough, but I never thought that I had a mental illness. I just thought I was a Mom with too much to do.

But then, in 2003, it all came crashing down and I was forced to seek medical help.  The diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder completely rocked my world.  In that moment, I became less than, I became flawed. This descriptor became my mantel.  I told myself several times each day that I would never be ok.  That having a mental illness put me into a different category than all my friends and family. They were ok, but I was flawed.

I identified as flawed for years.  I would always tell myself that I cannot do anything because my illness dictates what is possible and what is not.  To a degree this is true, but not to the levels I took it.  When people would ask me how I was doing, I would respond by saying I was flawed but getting through it. Or I would make a remark about how my Bipolar brain was calling all the shots now. That was until I started searching scripture about being flawed and loving myself. 

I learned that we are all flawed in some way. No one is perfect except Jesus. But Psalm 139: 13-14 spoke volumes to me…

For you formed my inward parts: You knitted me together in my Mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

We are not flawed.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made. That is how God sees us.  Our lens which we look through to identify and label ourselves is not clear. It has been muddied with all our negative self-talk and opinions of others.  We need to re-evaluate how we see ourselves according to the Word of God. We all have things that we live with that we wish we didn’t, but God never gives us something that He doesn’t also gives us grace to live out.

We see ourselves as flawed because of our illnesses but God sees us as beautiful.  We need to start changing our perceptions of ourselves in light of God’s Word.  He has the last say about who we are.  We are to believe Him for He has all wisdom. And through the blood of Jesus, we are made righteous.

Take time today to rewrite your opinion of yourself into an affirmation that is both loving and true. God does not see you as flawed and neither should you.

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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.

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Quiet Rest

Has anxiety and worry ever kept you up at night?  I think most people can answer yes to that question.  I know I have spent many sleepless nights worrying about things that never came to pass.  That’s the thing with anxiety and worry, the things we worry about never seem to manifest and we have spent countless hours in torment for nothing.

I was reading God’s word today and I found a passage in Romans 3:19 that talks about the Israelites not being able to enter God’s rest because of unbelief and an unwillingness to trust in God.  Isn’t that what we are guilty of?  We say we trust in God and yet our anxieties and worries overtake us. If we trust in God and in His word, then we should be able to place our worries at His feet and enter His rest.  Exodus 33:14 says “The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest””. Can we not believe in this promise?  Well of course we can, but, resting while in the midst of a worrisome situation can be difficult, even if the situation is not reality.

I tend to create worry and anxiety.  I imagine all types of bad scenarios that can occur from a situation I am in and none of them are pertinent to my actual reality.  My mind goes back and forth in the realm of “what if…”.  Have you been there?  I ask, “what if this happens or that happens?” and it would all be terrible.  I used to tell everyone “Don’t worry until you are given a reason to worry” and I lived that until I started suffering with the symptoms of my illness and then worry ran amok.  I had no control over what I was thinking.  I began to search Scripture on God’s quiet rest.  This was something I needed and wanted desperately.  I began to take these out of control worries and tell God about them.  I would talk to Him all day about things that were racing through my head and all the worry that I was carrying around and He led me to Philippians 4:8 which says

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worth of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things”(Amp).

This verse changed the way I thought about my life. I no longer had to be worried and anxious. I merely had to change the things I thought about. Instead of negative thoughts, I would think on those things in Philippians and that changed my entire outlook.  I am now a very positive person who enters into the quiet rest of God every day.  Sure, there are still situations that can produce worry and anxiety, but I know how to lay them at the feet of Jesus and carry on in peace. I learned how to trust God in all situations and I know that He has everything under control and my worrying does not change the outcome. God already has it handled. So, the next time you are tempted to worry about a situation you have no control over, remember these verses and trust that you can enter God’s quiet rest and watch your worry melt away.