Good News for Good Friends

It was "Bring a Friend Sunday" at my church today. The Lord gave me strength to get up and pick up three of my friends. My sister joined us as well. It was a gorgeous sunny day. The sort of day I imagine the Psalmist faced as he rejoiced, "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Announcements were given of all the Lord is doing through our faith community. The Psalms spoken and sung called us to worship. Scripture shared the promise of new life for all who are born again in the Spirit of Christ. Prayers were offered praising God for faithful friends and loving family, calling on God to heal the hurting, guide the lost, save the fallen. Then Pastor Andy read the focus text, Zechariah 3:1-10, which begins with a prophetic vision: 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high [...]

Good News for Good Friends 2018-05-20T23:19:15+00:00

Joy in the High, Peace in the Low, and Love In-Between

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 [...]

Joy in the High, Peace in the Low, and Love In-Between 2018-05-09T19:30:55+00:00

World Bipolar Day Meets Good Friday

March 30, 2018.  Good Friday. As a Christian, Good Friday is a day I celebrate the death of my Savior. Strange, huh? Said better, I celebrate the Way Jesus died for me and for the sins of the world. Good Friday reveals humanity at our worst -- betrayal, false arrest, phony trial, mob mentality, torture, execution. Yet Good Friday also demonstrates humanity as we were designed to be -- faithful, sacrificial, loving to the end.     March 30, 2018. World Bipolar Day recognizes the almost 6 million persons who live with this mental illness that can be both animating and debilitating. Persons with bipolar are often counting as some of the most creative, inspired, intellectual people past and present. But the ravages of the brain disease often lead to destructive behavior, even death.   Today I reflect on this special day for my faith and my mental health from [...]

World Bipolar Day Meets Good Friday 2018-03-30T01:47:17+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

How Do You Help People?

Today I woke up at the crack of dusk, after having spent a restless 15 hours in bed. I was anxious about things beyond my control, tortured by my past failures, questioning my purpose. Some people compare themselves with others who do less and feel good about themselves. I compare myself against my best self and feel miserable. At my best, I wake up, take my meds, brew some coffee and nurse it while doing a devotion. But I'm not at my best. The first thing I did was pull up my emails to see if there were any more contributors to our upcoming mental health podcast, "Revealing Voices."  There was not. I felt very discouraged. Was I doing something wrong? Had I sensed a need that isn't there? So many unanswered questions. So many unanswered prayers. I took a deep breath and pressed on. I checked my LinkedIn [...]

How Do You Help People? 2017-12-06T17:01:18+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

Higher Power Healing

In a recent Medium story, I made this contention: The issue for college students now is not so much “Can I admit my needs?:” but, given these needs, “What do I do now?” If we borrow the language of a 12-step program, many students take the first step of freely admitting their powerlessness, that their lives have become unmanageable, even that they are faced with insanity. But few take the next step, the faith step, believing that a Power greater than myself can restore my sanity. (from "How, Then, Shall We Live?" by Tony Roberts) This post sparked a wonderful response from Howard Chang: Tony, I read your piece. I liked how you highlighted the improvements that have taken placed in mental health care in college campuses since the 80s and posed the question, "What next?" to students after they have taken the first step. However, I think students [...]

Higher Power Healing 2017-06-04T23:01:24+00:00

The Cost of the Cross, Much More than a Free Smiley Face

The symbol of Christianity is a cross, not a smiley face. I write this on the Tuesday of Holy Week, the week we remember the final earthly mission of Jesus Christ, culminating in his sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. When I was a pastor, I would silently refer to this as “Holy Hell Week.” I was expected to do four times as much ministry and all with a cheerful demeanor. It was only by the grace of God that I did, at least to the degree that I did. Easter, of course, was designed to be the spiritual peak, the week you could reach many more folks than the rest of the year. People came to hear the Good News that “Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed.” Because Christ is risen, we have the hope of new life in Christ. Very few from the Easter crowd had come to [...]

The Cost of the Cross, Much More than a Free Smiley Face 2017-05-30T14:09:33+00:00

Life and Death with Bipolar

A friend of mine, who also has bipolar, was in an auto accident when she was in college. She was taken to the emergency room where she had an x-ray and cat-scan. Neither showed any physical damage. She called her resident adviser to come to the hospital to pick her up. By the time he got there, she was livid with the staff, crying out to anyone who would listen, and many who wouldn't, that she was paralyzed. Three doctors and several nurses examined her and found nothing physically wrong. As the night wore on, however, she became hysterical. She said she had a massive inflammation in her spine. She was admitted to a medical-behavioral unit where she was diagnosed as having an acute manic episode. She was given psychotropics. They also performed an MRI and found a mass in her lower spine.  Another cat-scan also revealed a mass in her [...]

Life and Death with Bipolar 2017-05-30T14:08:15+00:00

Far From Alone

As I write this, I am on the heels of a depressive episode that has threatened to kick my legs out from under me. For almost a week, I've been holed up my apartment; sleeping, watching television, staring at the computer screen. Menacing voices scream inside my head even as I hit the letters on my keyboard, yelling that I am an impostor, that I have nothing to say that people would want to hear. At times like these, the fact that God delights in me is far removed from my thoughts and feelings. Instead my thoughts are filled with things I've done wrong, my feelings are dominated by regret and shame. I sleep and sleep and sleep some more, but even my dreams are distorted by fears that I am unlovable, that I am alone in a pit of despair, far from delight. But I'm not alone. I know [...]

Far From Alone 2017-10-13T10:02:57+00:00