About tonyroberts

I am a man with an unquiet mind who delights in the One who delights in me.

From Despair to Delight: Inspiration

In his seminal book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King tells this story -- A friend came to visit James Joyce one day and found the great man sprawled across his writing desk in a posture of utter despair. "James, what’s wrong?" the friend asked. "Is it the work?" Joyce indicated assent without even raising his head to look at his friend. Of course it was the work; isn’t it always? "How many words did you get today?" the friend pursued. Joyce (still in despair, still sprawled facedown on his desk): "Seven." "Seven? But James… that’s good, at least for you." "Yes," Joyce said, finally looking up. "I suppose it is… but I don’t know what order they go in!"   In March of 2014, I published Delight in Disorder, a devotional memoir about my life as a pastor with bipolar disorder. It was nearly 5 years [...]

From Despair to Delight: Inspiration2019-10-13T20:20:51-04:00

What’s So Funny About Mental Illness?

This week I posted a meme that has been going around in various places. It goes like this: “Being popular on Facebook is like eating at the cool table in the cafeteria at a mental hospital.” I posted it because I identified with the humor. Two of my goals in life have been to be popular on Facebook and sit at the cool table when I’m in the mental hospital. One of the things that keeps me relatively sane is my ability to laugh at myself and I find particular pleasure in making people laugh with me. Certainly, I have a serious mental illness; that's a part of who I am. Not taking myself too seriously diminishes the power of my disordered ego. Thus, more often than not, the things I find funny are self-deprecating jabs. But self-deprecating humor may be misused in non-intimate settings such as social media. In [...]

What’s So Funny About Mental Illness?2019-10-09T16:54:11-04:00

My Life Partnership: In Sickness and in Health

Susan is currently in California doing one of the things that makes her heart glad - being a grandma. I'm holding down the home front, playing with Briley, and sharing stories. Here is one I first published on February 24, 2019. Over Labor Day weekend in 2018, I met the woman who would soon become my wife. Susan is all I could ever ask for in a life partner. She is intelligent. She has a beautiful smile. She has a great sense of humor. And, most importantly, she loves me and shares my faith. She accepts my identity as one who has bipolar disorder and affirms my mental health ministry. She is a definitive example of “ezer,” a help-meet who enhances my life, not a slave subservient to me or a master who emasculates me. I am truly blessed. Susan and I have experienced this past year as if it [...]

My Life Partnership: In Sickness and in Health2019-10-06T18:50:34-04:00

TITLE REVEAL for my upcoming Mental Health Ministry book.

From Despair to Delight: Stories that Cultivate Compassion for Those with Mental Illness I agonized about a title of my upcoming book for over two weeks, then settled on it over a couple of beers. The creative process sometimes looks like that. I've now written just about 1/3 of the book and I've outlined where it seems to be going. This title reflects both the content and the flow. From  Despair - The book begins with a scene in the psych hospital where I receive my diagnosis. My prognosis was stark; the outlook was bleak. In that moment, I felt God was not a loving Father but a malicious dictator, emasculating me on a divine whim. (from chapter one) The odds are stacked against those of us with serious mental illness. Disability. Divorce. Death. The statistics are alarming, but stories offer hope.   to Delight - Stories that convey a [...]

TITLE REVEAL for my upcoming Mental Health Ministry book.2019-10-02T21:13:08-04:00

NEWS RELEASE: A new book by Tony Roberts

After 5+ years riding Delight in Disorder, I'm now writing a new book with a working title: "Mental Health Ministry: Cultivating Compassion for those with Mental Illness" What do you think? After a few twists and turns, it is taking shape nicely. It is part-memoir, part-essay. I tell the story of my life in ministry and those who have ministered to me. As I put it in the Introduction:   This book is about mental health ministry. It’s not a “how-to” book. I can not tell you what will work in your ministry setting. Instead of answering the question, “How do we do mental health ministry?” I want to challenge you to ask, “Why are we not doing it?” Statistics are essential, but unless they are enfleshed with stories, they won’t lead to change. Evidence-based programs may produce proposals for getting grants, but if faith communities are going to carry [...]

NEWS RELEASE: A new book by Tony Roberts2019-09-29T17:34:41-04:00

Grace, Delight, and Foolishness: Devotions & Responses

In addition to writing for this blog, I write for such publications as Upper Room, These Days, and Stand Firm. Writing these devotionals is an exercise of faith for me and a way to connect with others hungry for the Word. This month I was fortunate to have a series of devotions ("Our Unbelief; God's Faithfulness") published in the Aug/Sept/Oct issue of these days. They hit home for several persons -- from a psychologist in Tempe, Arizona, to a retired minister in Bradenton, Florida, and many others. Perhaps the most gratifying response came in the mail - letters from a homeless person with a Ph. D. in political science who had schizophrenia and had been living on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee until an hospitable congregation took him under their wings, found him housing, welcomed him into Bible Study and encourage him to become an advocate for the homeless. I [...]

Grace, Delight, and Foolishness: Devotions & Responses2019-09-22T17:12:09-04:00

Sacred Rest

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.(Psalm 116:7) I write this from a loft in Somerset, New Jersey. I’m here playing Uber driver, concierge, and social director while my wife does some consulting work. Much of my day will be my own to do with as I choose. I’m already making lists of how many activities I can fit into a 24-hour day, leaving a little room to cram in sleep. One of the marks of bipolar disorder is a sense of restlessness. Often, I struggle a great deal with this. I pace. I sit. Then I stand up almost at once. I toss and turn in bed. There seems to be no rest for my weary soul. But the Psalmist here assures us that we can lay claim to a promised rest. It is our possession as we grow in our relationship [...]

Sacred Rest2019-09-18T22:35:52-04:00

I am ; even me.

I’m writing this on September 11, 2019. World Suicide Prevention Day. About an hour ago I read the tragic news about Pastor & Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson, who died two days ago by suicide. Here is how Christianity Today described Wilson — His wife, Julianne Wilson posted a photo tribute of her husband on Instagram. The photo slideshow shows him fishing “in his happy place.” She described her husband as “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious.”... “Tragically, Jarred took his own life,” [          ] Eaton said. ”Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most.”   I did not know Jarrid Wilson, but I know his story well. His story is the story of far too many persons who try so hard to care for others yet are unable to receive care for themselves; not so much out of stubborn [...]

I am ; even me.2019-09-11T12:07:27-04:00

When Bipolar Mixed States Threaten Your Relationships

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?     Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;     if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,     if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me,     your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me     and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;     the night will shine like the day,     for darkness is as light to you.  (Psalm 139)   Time will pass; this mood will pass; and I will, eventually, be myself again. But then, at some unknown time, the electrifying carnival will come back into my mind. ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness {this is an adaptation [...]

When Bipolar Mixed States Threaten Your Relationships2019-09-07T21:24:05-04:00

Helping in a Hurricane

Originally published on September 3, 2017 about Hurricane Harvey, just as relevant two years later with Dorian.   Lately the news has been full of stories about Hurricane Harvey and its disastrous impact. Relief efforts are extensive -- from government agencies, charitable organizations, private foundations, church groups, and individuals. People are eager to help in such horrifically harsh times, yet many are leery as they hear about instances where resources have been misused, rather than get to folks who need it. It is true our generosity can be abused. When such major needs arise, we give compulsively and, at times, compulsory. We often don't take the time to see that our gifts support the efforts that will meet the true needs of the most people. Misplaced trust can particularly happen for those of us with serious mental illness. Many want to help, as we have been helped in our lives. [...]

Helping in a Hurricane2019-09-04T21:02:41-04:00