A Church With No Walls

This has been a particularly good week to be part of a faith family that cares and shares. Last weekend, my prayer partner contacted me about how I was coming along in a terribly difficult family conflict. We prayed for each other as brothers in Christ. This week, an elder followed up to ask if I needed any financial assistance. I told him I was holding up so far, but that the offer was a huge show of support. Yesterday, my pastor and his family showed up at an author fair I was featured in. Their smiles made my whole day. Today, a man came up to me to tell me how much he appreciated my article in the local newspaper. Yes, it has been a particularly good week to be a receiving and contributing member of my faith family. A healthy, holy church includes all God's children both by [...]

A Church With No Walls2018-07-22T20:29:43-04:00

Fresh Hope for Mental Health Interview

A few weeks back, I received an unexpected message from Pastor Brad Hoefs from Fresh Hope for Mental Health. Fresh Hope is a mental health ministry that reaches out with an uplifting Gospel message for those who are often cast down. Their mission is to "empower individuals to live a full and rich faith-filled life in spite of a mental health diagnosis." Toward this end, they have developed curriculum for support groups around the country, they are producing webinars on such topics as "What I Wish My Pastor Knew About Mental Health," and distribute a podcast that is one of the best of its kind. Pastor Brad reached out to me to be a guest on this podcast. Below is the link to the program and the show notes:   In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad interviews Pastor Tony Roberts. Pastor Tony Roberts was born and [...]

Fresh Hope for Mental Health Interview2018-04-26T01:42:55-04:00

From Ministry through Madness to Mission

In March of 2014, I published my spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. Having served in pastoral ministry and gone mad, it’s now my mission to bridge the gap between faith communities and the mental health world. The vocation I envisioned when I went to seminary hit a large pothole, needed a major adjustment, even an overhaul. But the journey did not end. It had been 25 years since I first became a pastor. I felt passionate about faith, was eager to lead the flock, and saw visions of big things ahead. My church was in a countryside village. The people were kind and generous. They encouraged me for my preaching skills even though I read from a manuscript. They were patient with my counseling even though I was still, “wet behind the ears.” They were particularly enthused about my growing family and expressed hope for evangelism by [...]

From Ministry through Madness to Mission2018-02-22T03:07:20-04:00

Top 10 Delight in Disorder Posts in 2017

I've been wondering how I might mark the end of an incredible year here at Delight in Disorder. Would I chronicle my own year in mental health, from my confinement on a psychiatric observation unit of the hospital -- "Examining Medicine; Observing Faith", to my liberation as I channel my illness in creative ways -- "The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness."? Would I revisit good posts that went largely unnoticed, like "Discovering Delight in Disorder,";"Cracked Pots" ; and, "A Close Encounter with a Crazed Commentator." Maybe I would feature one of the many reader responses I've gotten in 2017 -- like: Yesterday was my birthday and still, I was a bit depressed. Some does come from my past childhood abuse, not that it was all bad, but my father has not spoken to me since my diagnosis in 2002 and my mom passed in 2003, but she understood before her [...]

Top 10 Delight in Disorder Posts in 20172017-12-28T22:21:29-04:00

What’s Next? Revealing Voices

I've been almost maniacally exuberant about a project that is a natural extension of our Delight in Disorder mission. I want to share it with you. But first, a story... In January of 2013, I had fallen into a deep depression. It wasn't the first time, but it was the first time it happened when I was living alone.  I had moved from Rochester, NY to Indianapolis, IN. Out of loneliness, I became involved in a toxic relationship. Within a few months, I broke it off. Now, I was alone in the dead of winter in a sterile apartment. I was miserable. My sister sensed it and encouraged me to move in with my family. I felt relieved. On the one hand, I thought it was pathetic for a 48-year old man to move back home. On the other hand, living alone was doing me in. So the other [...]

What’s Next? Revealing Voices2017-11-10T11:31:58-04:00

Responding to Suicide

This post was originally published August 11, 2014.    Robin Williams is dead, apparently of suicide after a lengthy battle with depression. My heart is heavy. What a terrible tragedy. How could a man who seemed so full of exuberant life somehow lack the will to live? I respect the family’s desire to keep details of his death private. There will likely be a feeding frenzy in the press — speculation over his mental state, drug use, relationships with others, every jot and tittle to try to explain the unexplainable — some people (and it can be anyone) simply lose the desire to see another day. Whenever I encounter suicide in the news or in the lives of people I know, my mind flashes back to one Saturday night in March of 2008. I was feeling flu-like symptoms and had called to get someone to preach for me. I went [...]

Responding to Suicide2017-08-04T10:27:34-04:00

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 Alone2017-10-13T10:02:57-04:00

Scorn-full

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud. (Psalm 123:3-4) While modern medicine has come a long way in helping us understand and explain mental illness, people’s perspectives can lag far behind. Many people still think that with more faith, a stronger will, and a better attitude, such things as depression, bipolar disorder, even schizophrenia can just go away. This outlook often leads to pinning the blame for the illness on the person struggling to overcome it. It can also lead to contempt and scorn on the part of the accuser that the accused may internalized. “If you only had more faith.” “If you weren’t so lazy.” “If you just kept a positive attitude.” Like the [...]

Scorn-full2017-05-30T14:04:21-04:00

Out of the Depths

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. (Psalm 130:1-4) When I am in the grip of depression, the last thing I want to hear is that I’ve done nothing to deserve it. My mind busily rehashes old regrets. I am convinced of my guilt over many things. I see my depression, no matter how severe, as but a small price to pay for my sin. The good news that saves us from the darkest corners of depression is not that we are “good enough” on our own. It is that in spite of how horribly we mess up, God has a word of grace to speak to us. [...]

Out of the Depths2018-05-24T00:03:39-04:00

Escaping the Pain

In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain”? (Psalm 11:1) When I first began to experience the symptoms of bipolar, I tried to escape them with drugs and alcohol, what some call self-medicating. As you might expect, this only made things worse. Treating a mood disorder with non-prescribed mind-altering drugs is not something I would now recommend. I then tried to treat my symptoms with only talk therapy and self-help techniques. While it was good to get off un-prescribed drugs, talk therapy alone was ultimately ineffective. It wound up being another form of escapism from my full problem. It was bipolar disorder causing a chemical reaction in my brain, and I needed something more than encouraging words to re-establish balance. One thing I’ve discovered in my journey through bipolar is that faith and medicine can, and often do, [...]

Escaping the Pain2017-05-30T14:02:54-04:00