Faithful in the Midst

Faith in The Midst of Struggle

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January 17, 2019
Tonya King

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Can God be Trusted?

Have you ever felt that you cannot trust God with your illnesses?  I have.  When I was first diagnosed, I would question God as to why I had been the unlucky one to have Bipolar Disorder.  I felt it wasn’t fair and that if God allowed me to have this, clearly, He could not be trusted.  I think we all think something along these lines at one point or another.  How could I trust a God who would allow such a thing to darken my life and the lives of those I loved?  I felt fatalistic, as if I was never going to get better and the pain that I felt would never go away. I felt betrayed.  Why God why?  Was I ever going to be well enough to return to my normal life?

I was asking this question to everyone but God.  I would cry to my husband about how unfair having this illness was and how it ruined my life and at the time, I truly believed this.  I couldn’t see past the pain.  Everyone started treating me different.  All those who knew we well, knew that our relationships were going to change.  I even lost friends when they found out I had a mental illness.  It wasn’t until much later that I decided to have a sit down with God and hash all this out.

I got on my knees and I got very raw with God.  I yelled and I cried, and I told God just how I felt about Him allowing this illness into my life.  I told Him how everyone looked at me differently.  How I could no longer work and how dreams I had for my future were now dashed into pieces. I told Him how my family was affected.  How my kids were struggling to understand, how I was struggling to understand.  Once I stopped telling God about my victimization, He began talking to me.  I sensed in my spirit that God entrusted this illness to me because He could bring good out of it.  I knew He was going to use my illness to bring me closer to Him than I had ever been, and He was going to use my experiences to help others facing the same struggle.

Fast forward several years, many tears and much suffering and healing and we have today.  Now I am in, what I call, remission.  God has been faithful to bring me into a place of wholeness so that I can now help others.  That is why “Faithful in the Midst Ministries” exists.  To help those who suffer from mental illness to find their way to God and to seek His healing touch on their lives.  I hope, that as I blog, you feel free to send me an email and let me know how I can pray for you and help you find God in the midst of your suffering.  I am here for you.

July 18, 2018
Tonya King

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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!

July 11, 2018
Tonya King

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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.

July 4, 2018
Tonya King

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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.

June 26, 2018
Tonya King

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Tired and Worn

I’m tired.  I am not complaining, it’s just a fact.  Living with a mental illness can do that to you.  It always seems like an uphill battle.  There are days that seem easier than others and we tend to gauge our wellness on how we feel from one day to the next.  Are feelings being often fickle and if we go to them to define whether we are doing well or not, we may be deceived.  I suffer from a mood disorder so my “feelings” are always trying to control me. I used to get up each morning and think “I feel this way or that way so today is going to be __________ (fill in the blank).

But now things are different.  I get up each morning and the first thing I do is thank God for the beautiful day.   Now the day may not be beautiful weather wise, but it is the day God has made and I am alive, so it is beautiful.  Doing that one thing can change my outlook on the whole day.  My mood may be dark, or it may be manic, but the trueness of God and his goodness never changes.  I can rest assured that as long as I invite God to share my day with me, no matter what happens, it is a good day.

The Lord reminds me often that He loves me.  He loves you too.  I know you may not believe that when you are in the throes of an episode.  Depression or anxiety may reign supreme in your life right now.  But that does not define you.  You have the Lord God fighting this battle with you.  And do not, for one minute, think this is not a battle, because it is.  It is a battle for normalcy.  We fight it every day and it is exhausting sometimes.  I know. I am right there with you.  But, ultimately, this battle has already been won.  We need only to call on God for help.  God can revive a tired spirit, and heal a fractured mind, and ease our depression or anxiety.  Spending some time with the Lord is key.  I am not saying that praying, reading the Bible and meditation is the cure all. I believe thoroughly in the value of medication and therapy but trusting God with our healing is vital.  He is the missing piece.  If you take the time to schedule some time with the Lord, it will change your life.

I used to get so worn out from fighting this battle all on my own. One day I turned the whole thing over to God and entered into a much-needed rest.  I am still resting in Him.  This does not mean I am not still fighting, I am. But now I know that I can turn to Scripture and prayer and get filled with the strength I need to fight each day.  I have said that sometimes, the bravest thing I do is get out of bed in the morning.  That is true because I know there will be a hard-fought battle I will face, but I also know that I do not battle alone.

If you are tired, go to God.  Allow Him to hold you and imbibe you with strength from above to fight the battle that is mental illness.  He knows just what you need to overcome the obstacles you face.  He will refresh you and strengthen you, so you can fight another day.  Never give up!!

June 14, 2018
Tonya King

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God, I Have A Situation Here…

God, I have a situation here.

I find myself in situations in which I need to call on God and I don’t.  My Bipolar Disorder often makes decisions for me that, in my right mind, I would have never made I would go to the mall in the throws of mania and have a thousand-dollar spending spree. I would be so depressed that I would cut all ties to the outside world, so I could commiserate alone and have a huge pity party.  I have contemplated suicide many times. I have alienated my family and hurt them in ways I don’t even know.  And all the while, I had a Savior who wanted to help me, I needed only to call on Him, but I didn’t.

When I am manic, I feel indestructible.  There are no bad consequences to my actions, I am highly creative and a lot of fun, but my mood can lead to psychosis very quickly. I am in a situation, but I don’t call on God. I am not thinking clearly enough to know I have a problem that needs His attention.  When I am depressed, nothing matters at all.  I am dark in my mind and there is no room for light even though that light is what I crave and want desperately. But I don’t call on the giver of that light.  My mind is unable to process the need, it only sees the pain. I, again, have a situation. So often I find myself wandering toward the illness and away from Jesus.  The illness calls to me and lures me in like a siren.  I get far off the narrow path that leads to health and wholeness and forget that my God is with me.  I can become so self-absorbed that all that exists is me and my bipolar.  I begin to identify strongly as the victim and yet, in the back of my mind, I hear the still small voice of God saying, “come out of the darkness, I am waiting for you”.  I begin to slowly crawl out of my own head and into the Word of God.  There I find hope, love and the peace my mind craves.  It seems so distant and yet so close that a word from my own mouth can call forth the strength of God that I need to just get up in the morning. Often, calling out to God from the midst of my struggle is the bravest thing I can do.  I start seeking Him through all the chaos that is my world right now.  He is there, and He loves me.  I trust and begin to believe that Jesus can make me better…level…less tumultuous.  I remember that the Word says that “by His stripes we are healed”. I quickly look up this verse and I am hit with the realty that this is not some historical rendering of someone’s life, it is the very breath of life for me.  Jesus did come. He did die. He was resurrected and through Him I have my healing.  A breath of hope and a promise of joy.  I begin to allow this promise to wash over me. I remember that I am not my illness.  That I am not a victim.  I have my identity in Christ and He tells me who I am.  My mind begins to lighten.  My world begins to make sense again.  My darkness begins to fade, and I can begin to see clearly.  In my situation, I call to my God “help me Jesus, I need you”.  That’s all. Not a long, eloquent prayer, but a heart cry from a fractured mind.  I call, and He answers.  My hope and my first love is coming to rescue me.  I sit and I breath Him in and feel his heartbeat.  I know I am going to be ok.  Jesus has me. I give everything to him. My pain, my chaos, my fear, my life.  He is the only one who can save me, and I trust that He will.  I was in a situation, but my God has scooped me up and set me on His lap and wrapped his loving arms around me and I am safe.  I no longer have a situation…my God has taken care of everything and I can just be whole.

June 5, 2018
Tonya King

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Distractions

I seem to be going through a bit of a dry spell with my faith walk.  Have you ever experienced this?  It isn’t that I lack faith in God…Oh no, it is just that my quiet time, and prayer time have gone a bit stale. It feels as if I am praying the same prayers, reading and studying the same things, finding nothing refreshing.  Today, I asked God what was going on. You know what He said?  One word – distractions! I understood what He was saying to well.  I have allowed the distractions of life to get in my way of spending authentic time with God.

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is check my e-mail… distraction.  The second thing I do is check Facebook…distraction. And after that I do a myriad of things before I even sit down with God to have some quiet time. By this time the quiet has long since gone and my mind is on what I need to do for the day… more distractions.   This is when the lying begins.  Here is when I begin telling myself that I will have my quiet time later when I get everything done that needs to be done.  Right.  That never happens.  I go from one thing to the next thinking I’ll get there God, but most of the time I don’t.  I tell myself that once my son goes to work in the afternoon, I will have all afternoon and evening to commune with God and study His word and while that is true, I never quite get there.  The time is available, but I am now engrossed in binge watching “Live PD”.  (A very uplifting and positive show).  So now comes the ultimate lie… “I’ll just start over tomorrow and I’ll do better”.  Nope, same things, different day.

Has this ever happened to any of you?  I feel it has. I cannot be the only one. I am not trying to sound legalistic about wanting to spend time with God. I am not saying that He loves me or you any less for failing to make Him priority #1. No, He loves us just as much.  The problem lies with how much we love Him.  I do not show a great deal of love for Christ when I cannot turn off the TV and spend the afternoon with Him.  I know people who love God who would love the amount of time I have available just to sit at His feet. I am very blessed with a lot of free time.  But this still does not motivate me to lose the distractions.

Now that I have this confession out there, and now that you may be doing a little soul searching on this topic, I feel like I can make some serious changes as to how I spend my days.  God needs to be the priority throughout my whole day.  Less TV, and social media…more God.  I am so glad God is a God of grace because I am certain will have a few more days like this one.