About tonyroberts

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

Faithful Friends: Eric Riddle

{first published May 8, 2017} I first met Eric Riddle in March, 2014, a week before the release of my spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. We went on to form a faithful friendship that, well, I’ll let Eric tell you about it.. (My words are in italics.) Thanks for joining us, Eric. We’re here to talk about faith and mental illness, two subjects I know you are passionate about. First tell me how you came to faith. I was raised in the church. As many who grow up in the church, I was following in my parent's tradition. I became more serious about my faith after my daughter was born. Going on a "Walk to Emmaus" retreat was a turning point in getting much more serious. I’ve heard those can be very transformational. Yes. The retreat was for men only and about 40 guys representing many churches [...]

Faithful Friends: Eric Riddle2019-02-17T21:13:40+00:00

Why Your (Bipolar) Story is Important

This week I received an email which said this: I am writing to explore your interest in talking with me about living with bipolar disorder. I am supporting the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on an educational project related to living successfully with serious mental illnesses. You came to our attention through your blog, Delight in Disorder, and we are inspired by both you and your journey. We are looking for someone to profile in a short, candid personal video who is living with and managing life with bipolar disorder. The project is part of a national effort to reduce the stigma of mental health disorders, increase hope that living a successful life I is possible, and encourage people to seek help and stay in treatment. The video would be posted on SAMHSA’s website (www.SAMHSA.gov) and promoted through social media [...]

Why Your (Bipolar) Story is Important2019-02-15T18:27:19+00:00

Loving “The Least of These.”

"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."  (Matthew 25:40) I was new to Rochester (NY) and had just connected with a small group at a local church. We were to have a social gathering and I had volunteered to bring the cheese and crackers. On my way there, I was rear-ended and wound up in the emergency room. I couldn't move, but nothing showed up on the tests. The medical providers thought I was faking it. Instead, my mind was betraying my body. My mental illness was the culprit of my paralysis. I tried to tell the staff this and asked that they give me my medicine. Instead, they responded as if I were an addict looking for a fix and ignored me. After sometime an angel arrived. He was an elder from my church, [...]

Loving “The Least of These.”2019-02-11T18:25:26+00:00

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6.2) One thing I am discovering this year is what a wonderful thing is to share burdens with someone you love so dearly. Since I have been with my wife Susan, we have faced many challenges and experienced many blessings. Our marriage vows: sickness/health; plenty/want; joy/sorrow, have certainly been tested and tried true. I have never been so confident as I am now that our love will survive and that this love is from God and will extend to all God's people. Labor Day, the day before I first spoke to Susan, I had two auto accidents. Yes, two. First, a deer hit me. That's right. I did not hit the deer. She hit me. It was a massive wallop, but I could still drive. So, I reported it and kept going. About 4 hours [...]

Bearing One Another’s Burdens2019-02-06T22:24:08+00:00

Feeling Burdened By or a Burden For?

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11.28-30)   I grew up in a country church where there was much talk of having burdens. Members, ministers, missionaries all spoke of having a burden for youth, drug addicts, Africa. Through their impassioned speech, the sweat on their brows, and the waving of their leather Bibles, they would stir up in us a burden to give — prayer, supplies, money. What I got from this early spiritual teaching is that a burden is something God gives a person who then transfers this burden to others. It didn’t occur to me at the time that it had [...]

Feeling Burdened By or a Burden For?2019-02-03T17:04:45+00:00

A Mental Illness Spectrum?

{first published in January 22, 2018} When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was given a very mixed prognosis. Many of the staff at the psychiatric hospital I was in had cared for persons with severe mental illness for years. What they often saw was people who were essentially non-communicative, sometimes aggressive, often pacing through the halls with what they called the "Thorazine shuffle." They told me I should prepare for a life where I could not return to ministry, get divorced, and, spend the rest of my life in-and-out of psych hospitals. But when I saw my psychiatrist, he painted a very different image. He handed me a memoir that had just come out called, An Unquiet Mind  by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. Jamison is a leading researcher of bipolar disorder and has the illness herself. This book expanded my vision of what God could do in [...]

A Mental Illness Spectrum?2019-01-30T20:29:53+00:00

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar?

You may want to reconsider if he... ... follows you around the mall telling you how ridiculous you are for wanting to have a career as an at-home mom. ... refuses to leave your apartment until he has beaten you in more computer hangman games than you have beaten him. ... tells you to pretend you don’t know each other at the campus picnic so people won’t know you are a couple. ... proposes to you in bed by saying, “You don’t really want to get married do you?” ... jumps out of your moving car because you can’t agree whether to have plants or flowers at your wedding.   Then again, you may appreciate that he... ... sneaks into your apartment while you are at work, puts on “I Will” by the Beatles, grabs you as you enter and dances with you in his own goofy way. ... composes [...]

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar?2019-01-29T13:08:49+00:00

Living in Love

“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)   You don’t fall out of love Like a cradle When the wind blows And the bough breaks.   Love is in the broken bough, the blowing wind, the falling cradle.   Love lives in us When we live in love   We live in the hands of the cradle-maker, the breath of the blowing wind, the heart of the broken bough.   (dedicated to S.L.; 9.23.2018)

Living in Love2019-01-27T14:23:37+00:00

The Physician Inside: 3 Steps to Better Self-Care

Note: This was first published in the Spring of 2017. Much has changed. I have more reason than ever to maintain my well-being. My solitary self is now in a shared union with another. What God has joined together is our job to care for.   Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19) As a competitive athlete, I diligently trained my body and "played through the pain," dismissing wounds I still face. As a student, I fiercely focused my mind on questions and concepts that helped me better understand who I am, but fell short of understanding how I fit in the world. As a pastor, I offered my best (and sometimes more) to meet people's needs, and became so obsessed with this, I ignored my own. Now, 54, launching new vocational [...]

The Physician Inside: 3 Steps to Better Self-Care2019-01-23T18:31:51+00:00

Good Work; God’s Work

In his book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work, Timothy Keller quotes Robert Bellah from Habits of the Heart.  Bellah observes that modern "expressive individualism" eats away at the cohesiveness that ties us together as a people and makes our work meaningful and productive.  Something more is needed.  He writes -  To make a real difference [there would have to be] a reappropriation of the idea of vocation or calling, a return in a new way to the idea of work as a contribution to the good of all and not merely as a means to one's own advancement. Reflecting on this, Keller identifies streams within the Christian Scriptures and particularly in his own Reformed Christian tradition.  One of these streams flows from Martin Luther.  Keller notes - The headwaters of Lutheran theology put special stress on the dignity of all work, observing that God cared for, fed, clothed, [...]

Good Work; God’s Work2019-01-20T19:44:12+00:00