I was raised in a loving Christian home. We went to church every Wednesday, and twice on Sunday. Youth group, choir, and bell choir were part of my life and I loved it…. socially that is…I never really dived into the Bible, I did not know all the books of the Bible, and I could not have quoted a verse if my life depended on it. Church was a safe place to go and have fun with friends. However, the older I got the more things began to change. I noticed that while my friends were still wanting to have fun and socialize, I wanted to listen to the sermon, and I wanted to learn about the Bible. So, I began to sit with some of the older kids, and my parents and really listened to the sermons.
Throughout the next several years I worked on building my faith and found churches to attend while at college, and again after I married and moved away from my home church. My faith grew stronger as the years went on and regardless of what was happening in life, I never lost my faith.
If anything, my faith was strengthened during times of stress, self-doubt, and the trials and tribulations of life.
At the age of 25 I became a mother for the first time. There was a time in my life that I was not sure if I wanted to become a mother and it scared me more than anything I could imagine. Why? Two reasons come to mind. Reason number one: I have a brother. A brother who has a severe mental illness that has yet to be diagnosed to this day. Sure, he received diagnoses over the years but other than ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) they changed constantly. Here are just a few diagnoses that were ‘tossed around’: oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, disruptive disorder, elimination disorder, and personality disorder. One of the many psychiatrists my brother visited even told my mother they suspected ‘autism like tendencies’? (Keep in mind this was late 80’s.) My brother was a terror of a child. The stress he placed on us as a family and especially my mother made me so angry, and scared. Lying, stealing, cheating, aggressive behavior, fire starting are just the highlights of my childhood perception of life with my brother. (I am more than happy to report that he is now an amazing father and husband. Excellent provider and man of God.)
But my parents still maintained their faith through it all. Their faith was the glue that kept us going. Above everything I witnessed the steadfastness of their faith.
Reason two: My first child was born 1 year, 2 months and 11 days after 9/11/01. I was terrified to bring a child into this world after the attacks on our nation. It was the first attack that I remember first hand in my young adult life. But I remember something my husband said at the time, ‘have faith’. He was referring to both of my fears and he knew how strong my faith was already.
My son, Landon was born on November 22, 2002. He was an easy infant as far as I could tell. He slept through the night at 4 months, he hit all the milestones on-time for the most part, and he was a happy baby. Then something changed around his first birthday. His demeanor was different and his reactions to change were ‘over the top’. As a mom I knew something was ‘off’ with my child. I was told repeatedly that he was fine, and just emotional, and his aggressiveness was him just being a boy. Years of back and forth with doctors, therapists and psychologists and we finally have a diagnosis that makes sense and fits. At the age of 16 he was diagnosed with schizoaffective bipolar.
The next part of our story is Landon’s faith journey. I interviewed him and here are his answers.
What was your relationship with God as a child?
I was angry with God by the time I was 10 years old. I saw other people happy and I did not feel like I could be happy. There was a lot of darkness in my head. At one point the anger led me to not believe there was a God. I started to lean towards atheism and chose Norse paganism.
What drew you to Norse paganism?
I love older cultures. Norse paganism is full of magic and witchcraft. It is also polytheistic and emphasized taking care of the world around you.
How involved did you get in Norse paganism?
I followed a few blogs and YouTube channels, but I never practiced magic or witchcraft with others. I did dabble in my own rituals.
When did you return to your Christian faith?
It was not until after my first inpatient stay at 16 years old.
What made you decide to return to Christianity?
I watched you mom. I saw your struggle with my sadness. I thought if I tried to give God another chance, then it might help you and me. I thought if you still had faith then why shouldn’t I?
So, you decided to be baptized and went to our pastor on your own. When did you know you wanted to be baptized?
I think it was sometime over the summer. Then I was baptized in November of 2019 just before my 17th birthday.
Was it a good decision? What has changed for you since then?
It was a great decision. I recognize that I now can be happy and joyful. I now know that my illness was the cause of my sadness and that God has a purpose for me through my illness.
There is truly delight in despair. Here’s my proof.