Blessed are the Unsatisfied by Amy Simpson: A Review

          God is blessing our podcast Revealing Voices in so many ways and we are confident  it will only get better. For one, we’ve managed to score an interview with Amy Simpson, one of the leading Christian voices on the subject of mental illness.           I was first introduced to Simpson’s work through her book Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission. As a pastor who has battled bipolar disorder, I felt liberated reading her passionate and compassionate call to open our pulpits and our pews to the voices and services of persons with mental illness. As the child of a father who served as a pastor and a mother who struggled with schizophrenia, Simpson speaks as one who knows inside and out both the failings and the blessings of the body of Christ responding to persons who too often fall [...]

Blessed are the Unsatisfied by Amy Simpson: A Review 2018-03-12T04:53:19+00:00

Sarah Dubinsky: A New Facebook Friend

Sarah Dubinsky and I are diagnostic cousins. Her label is schizoaffective Disorder. Mine is bipolar with psychotic features. Tom-a-to, tom-ah-to. We both struggle with a chemical imbalance that can severely affect our functioning, causing us to perceive what is within us and around us in ways that can be debilitating. We discovered we both had auditory hallucinations. I asked Sarah about hers.   Sarah:  I have different types of voices. The external ones are not so much commanding as negative. Judgemental. Guilt-inducing. Then, there are my internal ones. Assessment voices that are like inner dialogue. These serve a purpose until they spiral into a deeper psychosis.... How about you?   Me: Similar. I had never thought of the assessment voices, but I get that. My external voices are accusatory. Condemning. I’d love to get rid of those, but I’m afraid if I do I will also lose my creative ones. [...]

Sarah Dubinsky: A New Facebook Friend 2018-03-04T05:20:16+00:00

A Simple, Sacrificial Solution to School Shootings?

Another school shooting. It makes me sick to my stomach. More than this, it eats away at my soul. Lord, have mercy on us. On the children who died and those left behind. On the families of the victims and the family of the shooter. On the school and the community. On our nation: those crying out for limits to weapon access; those advocating for a better mental health care system; those dreadfully perplexed by where the world went wrong and how to right it. If you’ve come here looking for an easy answer, you’ve come to the wrong place. Easy solutions to complex problems are not only misleading, they are dangerous. What is most needful is not easy and even-dimensional. It is damn hard. It requires sacrifice. Sacrifice of our time, our talent, our money. First, it’s about time. We live in a lonely culture, getting lonelier by the [...]

A Simple, Sacrificial Solution to School Shootings? 2018-02-17T19:32:27+00:00

Jesus Talks to Me, Am I Mentally Ill?

Yesterday, I received two messages with video clips of Vice President Pence responding to a “mental illness” accusation. My first thought was “What now?” I rarely open political messages or links, but given this was about faith and mental illness, I felt both obliged and intrigued. In the clip, Pence refers to a comment on ABC that claimed Christianity was a mental illness. Unlike much political rhetoric that is filled with deceit, I suspected that Pence was reasonably accurate in his remarks. Authentic Christian faith doesn’t hold up well to media sound bytes. The exact comment made was this: It’s one thing to talk to Jesus, it’s quite another when Jesus talks back to you. That’s mental illness. Was this a joke? A careless slam on Pence? Something more? Two other persons on the show took umbrage at the remarks. One said: Jesus talks to me every day and I’m [...]

Jesus Talks to Me, Am I Mentally Ill? 2018-02-16T05:05:11+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

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

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness

I start this post with one basic assumption. Not all persons with mental illness are creative. Some sit around all day playing video solitaire, watching episodes of Judge Judy, counting the cars that pass by. Some persons with mental illness have neither the desire or the capacity (or both) to do anything that resembles creative expression. (Though you never know the depths of creativity lodged in their brains.) At the same time, I find my mental illness plays out in a creative way, primarily in my way with words. I'm not Hemingway. It's not quality, but quantity for me. Most of my waking and sleeping hours are spent plotting how I can use my words to the best effect. When I am under unusual amounts of stress, you will likely find me tucked away in a corner, Pilot G-2 gel pen gliding across a composition journal, describing the world [...]

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness 2017-12-06T17:02:03+00:00

Giving Thanks for My Illness

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18) “While she might not have opted for this illness, neither does she entirely regret it; she prefers, as she writes so movingly, a life of passionate turbulence to one of tedious calm.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for many things. I'll name five: Food to eat. A roof above my head. Family members who care for me. Faithful friends who make me laugh. And my mental illness. Yes, I am grateful for my mental illness. I have come to prefer the "passionate turbulence" of bipolar disorder to the "tedious calm" of being "normal". This is not to say I enjoy all aspects of my illness. Sometimes it is a pain in the ass. Sometimes [...]

Giving Thanks for My Illness 2017-11-24T14:48:35+00:00

Worshiping with a Mental Illness

It is in the nature of all humanity to worship. Worship lies at the core of human beings, written into our DNA. The question is not do we worship but who we worship.Many of my friends with mental illness claim to reject God. As I dig further into their stories, however, I discover that it is not so much God they reject as those who claim to represent God. In my Christian faith family, we have many who fail to understand the nature of mental illness and who have made very wrong and damning statements about the subject. Mental illness has been described within the church as demon possession, as a lack of faith, as an attention-seeking illusion. It is little wonder folks with mental illness would feel shunned by the church and be discouraged from worshiping God in Jesus Christ.So, where does one who feels shunned turn to for [...]

Worshiping with a Mental Illness 2017-10-31T11:47:28+00:00

The Spiritual & Emotional Benefits of Forgiveness

In my mental health support group this week, we discussed forgiveness. It was a very intense discussion that was both personal and revealing. I can't stop thinking about it. Who have I forgiven? Who has forgiven me? Who have I yet to forgive? Who has not shared forgiveness with me? I've been doing a lot of self-reflection, which sometimes leads me to excessive self-regret. So, I thought it would be good to turn to a few friends to help me compose this post. I'll fashion this as a dialogue, though it was actually a series of three Facebook message threads. +     +     + Me: Hello, Kim. What do you see as the distinction between forgiving and forgetting? Kim: Forgiving is choosing to let go of a sin/trespass against oneself while forgetting is choosing to never remember again a sin/ trespass against oneself. .. to never [...]

The Spiritual & Emotional Benefits of Forgiveness 2017-09-28T10:30:24+00:00