Six days ago, I checked into Affinity Place, a peer-run mental health respite/retreat house. Tonight is my last night. Looking back over the week, I’m reflecting on how the Spirit has moved in this ministry of Affinity. I can think of three specific ways:
First, the Lord has provided refuge for me. I had reached a critical juncture of mental instability alone at home. I was particularly vulnerable during the nights I couldn’t sleep. Here at Affinity, a staff person is on site 24/7. When my sleep was disturbed, I simply came downstairs and talked about it with someone who knew first-hand what I was going through.
Next, I have renewed my commitment to valuable spiritual disciplines, particularly morning Scripture reading and prayer. At home, I had become lax in these practices. I was not starting my day talking to and listening for the Lord. While at Affinity Place, God has rekindled my desire for time alone with him.
Finally, I have caught up on sleep. Sleep is an essential component for a healthy emotional life. This may seem obvious, but it is essential. Though it took me awhile to settle into the environment of Affinity Place, my “sleep hygiene” has been restored and I can leave with a steady rhythm that will serve me well.
As I prepare to leave the safe confines of Affinity Place and re-enter the “cold, cruel world,” I want to carry with me what God has given me here. One thing I will do tonight is set a schedule of work, rest, and exercise, as well as set a menu for the week. When I am at my best, I have a plan in place I can consult each morning and review each evening, adjusting it as needed. I have found that God has worked wonders when I have “redeemed the time,” and cared for my body, the temple of his Spirit.
One thing I have discovered in my life with bipolar is that I can never say I am perfectly balanced. But on evenings such as this as I sit in the solitude of my cloistered room, listen to the soothing sound of Iris Dement, and feel the cool breeze of a Spring dusk, I can say with the Psalmist,
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places,
Yea, I have a goodly heritage. (Psalm 16:6)