About tonyroberts

I am a man with an unquiet mind who delights in the One who delights in me.

Delight in Disorder: My Story, My Message, My Mission

My Story In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a small village church.  One Sunday, I delivered a sermon on human illness and divine healing in which I shared these words: When we become ill, it is important to listen to our bodies and pray that God help us make necessary changes. Our ailments may be blessings in disguise. We may be expecting too much from ourselves, or avoiding things we need to face. As we listen to our bodies, talk and reflect with others, and pray together, we can gain spiritual insight which will help us live healthier, more productive, more abundant lives. The next day, I was in the seclusion room of a psychiatric hospital. I was told I had bipolar disorder, that I would never work as a pastor again, that my marriage would likely end, and that I would spend the rest of [...]

Delight in Disorder: My Story, My Message, My Mission 2018-02-08T09:44:15+00:00

Feeling Burdened By or a Burden For?

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11.28-30)   I grew up in a country church where there was much talk of having burdens. Members, ministers, missionaries all spoke of having a burden for youth, drug addicts, Africa. Through their impassioned speech, the sweat on their brows, and the waving of their leather Bibles, they would stir up in us a burden to give — prayer, supplies, money. What I got from this early spiritual teaching is that a burden is something God gives a person who then transfers this burden to others. It didn’t occur to me at the time that it had [...]

Feeling Burdened By or a Burden For? 2018-02-07T02:52:18+00:00

we are revealing voices 3.1.2018

I'm delighted to announce the birth of a Delight in Disorder daughter mission, the podcast revealing voices. Our show debuts March 1. Here's is the audio and text of our trailer.     Eric (E): We welcome you to the trailer of our Revealing Voices podcast. Before launching into the trailer, I want to say thank you to all of those who supported us in our successful Indiegogo campaign in November and December. In the upcoming episodes, we will will thank you personally for your generosity. (E): Now please let me introduce you to my friend and co-host Tony Roberts. Tony is a published author and blogger, focused on matters of faith and mental health. He is the father of four and grandfather of two, with one on the way. Music feeds Tony’s soul and John Prine is his muse. Tony (T): And that was my friend Eric [...]

we are revealing voices 3.1.2018 2018-02-01T01:15:38+00:00

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar?

You may want to reconsider if he... ... follows you around the mall telling you how ridiculous you are for wanting to have a career as an at-home mom. ... refuses to leave your apartment until he has beaten you in more computer hangman games than you have beaten him. ... tells you to pretend you don’t know each other at the campus picnic so people won’t know you are a couple. ... proposes to you in bed by saying, “You don’t really want to get married do you?” ... jumps out of your moving car because you can’t agree whether to have plants or flowers at your wedding.   Then again, you may appreciate that he... ... sneaks into you apartment while you are at work, puts on “I Will” by the Beatles, grabs you as you enter and dances with you in his own goofy way. ... composes [...]

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar? 2018-01-29T20:06:45+00:00

Penance: Spiritual Self-Harm

penance: (n) punishment inflicted on oneself as an outward expression of repentance for wrongdoing. ‘he had done public penance for those hasty words’.   When I first separated from my (now) ex-wife, I was miserable. I wrestled with a sense of guilt and confusion, searching my mind for what I could have done differently to make a better marriage. It wasn't as if I had shut God out of my life, or the life of my family. Faith, while admittedly mixed with many of my own flaws, was evident in who we were and how we behaved. My mental illness had certainly played a strong role, but even that didn't seem like an adequate reason. Granted, over 90% of people with bipolar who marry wind up divorced. Yet, I held out hope that God would bless us to be the slim exceptions. My time alone after I left my family behind [...]

Penance: Spiritual Self-Harm 2018-01-24T03:18:30+00:00

A Mental Illness Spectrum?

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was given a very mixed prognosis. Many of the staff at the psychiatric hospital I was in had cared for persons with severe mental illness for years. What they often saw was people who were essentially non-communicative, sometimes aggressive, often pacing through the halls with what they called the "Thorazine shuffle." They told me I should prepare for a life where I could not return to ministry, get divorced, and, spend the rest of my life in-and-out of psych hospitals. But when I saw my psychiatrist, he painted a very different image. He handed me a memoir that had just come out called, An Unquiet Mind  by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. Jamison is a leading researcher of bipolar disorder and has the illness herself. This book expanded my vision of what God could do in my life despite the challenges of [...]

A Mental Illness Spectrum? 2018-01-22T01:28:56+00:00

The Secret to Finding Sanity After a Mental Episode (by Katie Dale)

I was sauntering through Wordpress blogs that have "faith" and "mental illness" tags. I found very little, which is further confirmation that what we do here at Delight in Disorder is so vital and essential. Just as I was about to take a screen break, my eyes fell on a blog with an interesting title: Bipolar Brave.  The landing page immediately drew me in -- a picture of a joyful young woman, next to a well-defined three-sentence elevator message: “They may say I need to take a step of faith, and I will tell them, I did. The truth is, no matter how much faith one has, medication is nothing short of a miracle. Doctors treat, God heals.”.  You can't get any closer than this in expressing the intimate relationship between faith and mental illness. So, I reached out to Katie and invited her to do a guest post for [...]

The Secret to Finding Sanity After a Mental Episode (by Katie Dale) 2018-01-19T16:03:27+00:00

Anxious Affliction

I've been rather obsessed about anxiety lately. In "Moving Anxiety to Motivation," I explored how God's words "Don't be anxious about anything..." (Philippians 4.6) indicate more God's loving reassurance than God's wrathful scolding. Certainly, God wants us to be anxiety-free, but He knows the best way to reach this goal is not to scare anxiety out of us, but instead to be Present with us, neither taking pity on our predicament nor trying to cheer us up with false platitudes. Over the past two weeks or so, I have left my basement abode precisely twice, for an hour each. One to go to worship and one to pray with a brother in Christ. My hermitage existence hit me as I was putting clean clothes away. PJs. Underwear. Socks. That's it. Friends have asked me what I do as I lie in bed all day. Mostly, it's less about what [...]

Anxious Affliction 2018-01-19T16:06:29+00:00

Moving Anxiety to Motivation

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4.6) My good friend Eric came over Saturday. We now have all the recording equipment necessary for our upcoming podcast, "Revealing Voices," and now need to learn how to use it before our debut on March 1. Eric also brought over a Ninja blender to make the smoothies we will drink and review on our show. Eric was here from 10:30 am - 3:30 pm and made tremendous progress. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. The more time passed, the more progress Eric made, the more my mind became encased in a cage of anxiety. Eric is a good communicator, but because of my state of mind, here's what I heard: "Blah, blah, Skype, blah, blurb, best practices, bloop, bloop, Blubrry,... embedding... migrating.. birds... [...]

Moving Anxiety to Motivation 2018-01-19T16:05:30+00:00

Emotional Honesty or Self-Pity?

I've been reading a number of Wordpress blogs on the topic of mental illness. I find some of them quite moving - gripping depictions of tormented souls. Others are more like emotional diarrhea. More like what you would find on an episode of Jerry Springer than in an in-depth therapy session. So, I've been looking back on my own life and wondering what marks the distinction between emotional honesty and self-pity? First, self-pity. Mitch, I don't allow myself any more self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears, and that's all." I thought about all the people I knew who spent many of their waking hours feeling sorry for themselves. How useful it would be to put a daily limit on self-pity. Just a few minutes, then on with the day. And if Morrie could do it, with such a horrible disease . . . ― Mitch Albom, [...]

Emotional Honesty or Self-Pity? 2018-01-19T16:06:59+00:00