It has been a long and winding week. I have traveled over 1500 miles. Eaten a Magic Mushroom Panini at a Beatles-inspired cafe. Spent way too much money on luxury hotels. Played Yahtzee with my son and dominoes with my daughter. Received a generous portion of hugs from a little girl and little boy who have won my heart. Learned why a ram wears a belt with a crayon hanging down. Any guesses? Overall, it has been perhaps the most fantastic, glorious, delightful week of my life.
So what’s next? I know myself well enough to know I can’t keep the pace up. The higher I climb, the lower I fall. I have experienced this far too often such that I have come to expect it as a norm.
But what if I have a new norm? What if I can experience highs and then level off to a peaceful plateau? Is it so far-fetched? As a person with bipolar, am I doomed to a never-ending cycle, or is it possible that I can level off?
There was a time in my pastoral ministry where I experienced a lengthy period of relative stability. I functioned well. Our ministry was fruitful. I enjoyed time with family, reading books to my children by the dozens. I still took psychotropics and engaged in therapy, but I did not become so lost in my psychic pain that I failed to respond to my faith community or family.
What if I am entering a new season in my life where I can be both productive and peaceful? Creative and committed? Full of hope and devoted to taking the steps to realize it?
A number of people who contact me through my website and our podcast ask if I identify with the Biblical character Job. Job is robbed of everything but his life. He doesn’t understand his loss, his pain, his sorrow, but he does not question that God is still in control and God ultimately does what is good and right. Job does not follow his wife’s advice to relieve suffering by cursing God and dying.
When God finally responds to Job’s cries, it may seem like no response at all. Who are you to tell me what to do? Where were you when I created all things? I am who I am. And I do what I do.
How cruel and callous God can be! At least to the naked, human eye. We look at temporal suffering and see unbearable, unending pain. But in God’s eyes, it is hardly so. The sorrow of this life isn’t worthy to be compared to the glory in the next.
Our hope in Christ is that we will one day plateau, only it will be on the highest, most delightful plain. No more tears. No more pain. No more sorrow. No more emotional cycling that consumes our mind and wastes away our body. Like Job who survives his struggles and is blessed in the end, those who are in Christ can count on an abundant and everlasting life with him and all our faith family.
I will go to bed early. I will set my alarm for 8 hours of sleep. I will get up and go about my morning grateful for the week I have had, but not try to duplicate it. My desire is to find the joy in each high, the peace in each low, and the love in all the in-betweens.