About tonyroberts

I am a man of faith who delights in the One who delights in me.

Responding to Suicide

This post was originally published August 11, 2014.    Robin Williams is dead, apparently of suicide after a lengthy battle with depression. My heart is heavy. What a terrible tragedy. How could a man who seemed so full of exuberant life somehow lack the will to live? I respect the family’s desire to keep details of his death private. There will likely be a feeding frenzy in the press — speculation over his mental state, drug use, relationships with others, every jot and tittle to try to explain the unexplainable — some people (and it can be anyone) simply lose the desire to see another day. Whenever I encounter suicide in the news or in the lives of people I know, my mind flashes back to one Saturday night in March of 2008. I was feeling flu-like symptoms and had called to get someone to preach for me. I went to [...]

Responding to Suicide 2017-07-24T18:35:17+00:00

Is Depression ‘of God’?

In 2013, I partnered with Leanne Sype to begin the process that led to the publication of Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. I was thrilled with her work as editor, a crowdfunding consultant,a spiritual adviser, and friend. Here is some of her story. *** I have depression. It’s called “situational depression” because it was induced by the situation of both my kids being diagnosed with mental illnesses. My son has ADHD. My daughter has depression and anxiety, which, for her, include symptoms like self-harm and thoughts of wanting to die. Over the course of navigating treatments, advocating for academic accommodations, and engaging in the bulk of the emotional support for each kiddo, I felt depression slowly weigh down on my chest. *** I once had a Christian friend tell me that anything with the prefix de- isn’t “of God.” Depression fell into that category in our conversation. Whether [...]

Is Depression ‘of God’? 2017-07-19T19:53:49+00:00

Grandma’s Soft Hands

She had the softest hands of any woman I ever touched, of any woman who ever touched me. I asked her one time, “Grandma, how do you keep your hands so soft?”  “Dishes. Wash plenty of dishes.” Maybe she thought this would motivate me to do more work around the house instead of constantly burying my nose in a book.  No, dishwashing alone wasn’t the secret of Grandma's soft hands. It was lotion. Tons and tons of lotion. My sister revealed this to me after nearly half a century of going on the washing-dishes-alone-theory. Every baby born to the family for almost five decades felt the gentle touch of Grandma's loving hands as she played with us and prayed with us, as she read to us, as she taught some to work and shook her head at why others wouldn't.  My Uncle Geoff is the one who carries on [...]

Grandma’s Soft Hands 2017-07-19T19:55:30+00:00

She had the softest hands of any women I had ever touched, of any woman who had ever touched me. I asked her one time, “Grandma, how to you keep your hands so soft?”  “Dishes. Wash plenty of dishes.” Maybe she thought this would motivate me to do more work around the house instead of constantly burying my nose in a book.  No, dishwashing alone wasn’t the secret of Grandma's soft hands. It was lotion. Tons and tons of lotion. My sister revealed this to me after nearly half a century of going on the washing-dishes-alone-theory. Every baby born to the family for almost five decades felt the gentle touch of Grandma's loving hands as she played with us and prayed with us, as she read to us, as she taught some to work and shook her head at why others wouldn't.  My Uncle Geoff is one who carries [...]

2017-07-19T19:58:42+00:00

The Social Cycles of Bipolar and Faith: Susan Irene Fox

As I look back on the cycles of bipolar that have tried to steal my life away from me, I am acutely aware of both overt and covert cycles associated with this illness. The overt cycles are mania or hypomania and depression, which is why this brain disease used to be called manic-depression. Some sufferers prefer to use this name because it accurately describes the two polar-opposite cycles we swing through without the middle ground in between. Hypomania is the milder form of the upswing cycling experienced by those who have bipolar 2, the more “benign” form of bipolar. While mania is often accompanied by visions, voices and dangerous behavior, the symptoms of hypomania can be overspending to the point of bankruptcy, risky sexual behavior, or extreme irritability with self or those around us. Depression in bipolar 1 is more extreme, while in bipolar 2 is more frequent. Both [...]

The Social Cycles of Bipolar and Faith: Susan Irene Fox 2017-07-13T12:39:39+00:00

A Sacred Rest

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:30-31 Some time ago, there was a law suit filed against a hospital claiming that a young medical resident allowed a person taken into the emergency room to die. The resident had just completed 40 hours of grueling work, without sleep, in this busy city hospital. Sheer exhaustion prevented him from making good medical judgment. In response to the suit the state legislature made it illegal for residents to work long hours without rest. To protect lives, it is necessary that those who care for others care for themselves as well. Many times we made damaging demands on ourselves and [...]

A Sacred Rest 2017-07-09T23:59:20+00:00

Granny Told Me His Name: Lee Ann Leach

It was just about two weeks ago that I found out that others didn’t hear noises in their heads like I do. I have had them all my life. Normal sounds. A car door slamming. A bell ringing. A buzzing sound. Someone saying my name. A ping. This is just one symptom of my mental illness. Right from the start the nurses in the nursery in the hospital where I was born immediately noticed that I was the “most nervous baby” they all had ever seen. Alberta Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1971. There was a great pouring out of the Spirit in the area at the time and there were revivals going on all over town. Embry Williams was preaching at a week night revival at Alberta Baptist Church. I don’t remember the sermon or what really happened that night, but I do know that I walked down and [...]

Granny Told Me His Name: Lee Ann Leach 2017-07-06T11:21:10+00:00

What Rochester Has Given Me: Grace Church (PCA)

Faith communities have been an essential aspect of my life. Since I retired from ministry, I have been blessed with two churches in particular. Columbus Reformed Presbyterian (Columbus, Indiana) and Grace Church PCA (Rochester, New York). I find it very reassuring that while I am leaving Grace PCA, I will have a spiritual family in Columbus RPC to call home. Still, there is much I am grateful for and want to celebrate with Grace. When I first showed up in Rochester, I was essentially homeless. A downtown church had paid a three-day voucher for me to stay at the Cadillac Hotel. I was grateful for the mission of this generous church, but it was not a good fit theologically or socially. I had researched PCA churches since I first read Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. I was drawn to their commitment to Biblical truth as well as Christ-centered mission. [...]

What Rochester Has Given Me: Grace Church (PCA) 2017-06-30T14:11:58+00:00

My Fall from Faith: Terri Nida

Two of our aims here at Delight in Disorder is to connect faith and mental illness in such a way that our suffering becomes redemptive and that we see our whole lives in a spiritual light. Body. Mind. Soul. I first read Terri's story in You Share: Stories that Matter.  Some time later, she became a subscribing member of Delight in Disorder. So, I wrote to her about doing a guest post. She graciously agreed. While Terri is not diagnosed with a mental illness, she has struggled with depression most of her life and her story reveals such powerful immersion into the nature of  suffering: physical, emotional, and spiritual, I thought it fit well here. This is her story... On August 18, 2013, I suddenly felt dizzy. It had been a nice Sunday afternoon. The hanging plants on my balcony were slowly swinging in the breeze, and I remember admiring [...]

My Fall from Faith: Terri Nida 2017-06-27T22:02:38+00:00

Enemies Sprouting Like Mushrooms

In The Message, Eugene Peterson calls Psalm 3 – “A David Psalm, when he escaped for his life from Absalom, his Son.” The words that follow reveal a hunted poet king, surrounded and scared. God! Look! Enemies past counting! Enemies sprouting like mushrooms, Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery: “Hah! No help for him from God!” (vv. 1-2) David sees no escape from sure defeat, certain death. This does not keep him from crying out to God – in fact, it motivates him all the more to do so. He lifts up to God the torturing taunts of his enemies and then reminds himself just Who it is he’s talking to – But you, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high; With all my might I shout up to God; His answers thunder from the holy mountain. (vv. 3-4) [...]

Enemies Sprouting Like Mushrooms 2017-06-26T22:36:53+00:00