For almost twenty years, I served as a pastor with bipolar disorder. I have journeyed with this illness from manic (even psychotic) peaks to dark valleys of despair. At both extremes, I have flirted with death—coming very close to ending my life and doing great damage to those around me. For no good reason except the mercy of the Lord, God has kept me alive, saving me from certain destruction.
Yet, I have also found genuine delight in my disorder and this is the story I tell in Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission.
How can we delight in an illness that has contributed to a divorce rate of more than 90% and leads over half of those diagnosed to attempt suicide? Countless times, when I have been driven to the edge of a cliff, God has rescued me and set me on level ground. Why would God do this? Because God delights in me even in disorder. Delight is first an expression of God’s love for us. Since God delights in us, we have a “delightful duty” to share in God’s joy.
The title of this book is taken from a poem by Robert Herrick about a dress that has “wild civility” and shows “sweet disorder”– two phrases that could be aptly applied to bipolar disorder. There is something incredibly alluring about the intensity experienced during manic phases of bipolar that can induce fits of creativity that seem (and may well be) tremendously productive.
But there is a cost. What goes up must come down, and the higher I’ve gone, the harder I’ve crashed. More than this, when I have allowed myself to go up, I have often left important people behind.
In this book, led by the words of the Psalmists, I lead you through the house of my bipolar mind, sharing my story of “wild civility” and meditating on the God who delights in us in our “sweet disorder.”
In Delight in Disorder I walk you through the rooms of my bipolar mind.
On the front porch, I invite you to step out of your mud-cake shoes filled with preconceived notions of mental illness and put on slippers of a faith perspective that has warmed my feet.
In the family room, I share stories of generations passing on the disorder in spite of their deepest desires.
In the living room, I introduce you to others from psychiatric units to churches who have shaped my understanding of the illness.
In the basement, I lead you through the darkness of despair with a glint of hope.
In the prayer room, I reveal my conversations with God.
In the kitchen, we feast together on the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Finally, in the study, I reflect on books, movies, and songs that impact our view of Bipolar and suggest sources to turn to for help.
The media often portray the horrific extremes where mental illness leads to horrific homicide or shameful suicide. What is missing is a compassionate portrayal of all the rest of us who struggle to survive and be faithful.
Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission reveals the beautiful grace of God that leads to grateful living if you have a mental illness and greater understanding if you want to love another who does.