Preparing for Fiery Trials

My soul is searing. Not from the burning wrath of God but from the fiery grace of Christ. The past month has been the most challenging one I can remember over the past decade. I spent 3 weeks in a dungeon of despair, lost in a thick haze of hopeless regret over perceived personal failings that left me feeling irredeemable. Then, around midnight 11 days ago  the fog lifted; my dry bones were enfleshed with spiritual sinews. I walked unweary. I flew like an eagle full of promise and purpose. The psychological diagnosis for this is bipolar disorder. The spiritual diagnosis I’m coming to discern is being tested by the Lord; or, tempted by Satan. Or could it be both? Reflecting on an emotional meltdown 24 hours ago, I’ve come to relate intimately with the baptism of Jesus followed immediately by his desert temptation by the Accuser. Jesus understood his relationship to [...]

Preparing for Fiery Trials2019-07-07T17:10:41-04:00

The Painful Best

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  (Psalm 42:5)   As one who is touched with bipolar depression, I write about spiritual darkness. Yet, as a believer, I see the light of Christ shining through this darkness. The following are from posts written over the course of the last 6 years. If I have done my job as a Christian who has bipolar, you will find hope to handle despair with the strong arm of faith.   April 9, 2013   I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live...(Deuteronomy 30:19) When I read the news of Matthew Warren's suicide yesterday, I felt sick to my stomach.  I [...]

The Painful Best2019-06-26T03:18:53-04:00

Grandma McPeak. Just Grandma.

Today is Grandma McPeak's birthday. Some time ago,  I had lunch with her.  You know how people often have endearing names for their grandmothers — Nanny, Granny, Mama, etc…  Well, Grandma McPeak has always just been “Grandma” – as if she defined the role. She met me at the door with a smile. Come on in.  Make yourself at home. I brought you some good food for lunch, Grandma. Did you make it?  (sounding surprised) Well, no, Connie did. Bless her heart.  You tell her I said thanks. I set the broccoli salad, cantaloupe (or “mush melon – as Grandma calls it), green onions, and plums on the table, then fixed our plates with pork, ham and beans and green beans.  Grandma was standing by the microwave. Do you mind putting these in for a minute, Grandma? (looking confused) Well, I’m afraid you’re going to have to do it. What’s [...]

Grandma McPeak. Just Grandma.2019-06-24T18:59:11-04:00

All the Difference in the World

In 2008, my mental illness progressed to the point that I became unable to work in my profession. I had served as a pastor for over 20 years. It was more than just my job. It was my calling. My vocation. I did not work as a pastor; I was a pastor. I delivered God's Word week after week to help people, my people, see their stories in God's story. I led Bible studies at a local addiction treatment center, extending the hope of Christ's forgiveness for those ready for a new path in life. I prayed with wailing women as they sat beside their dying husbands. After I resigned from pastoral ministry, I didn't know what I would do. I tried many things. Weeding. Cleaning furnaces. Roofing. Volunteering at the VA. Building mini-barns. I had no idea what I was doing. I tried to stay busy, but I [...]

All the Difference in the World2019-05-01T19:03:24-04:00

Mental Illness: What is the Answer? That is the Question!

Can you fathom the mysteries of God?     Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below— what can you know? (Job 11:7-8)   God is a mystery to us. God lies beyond our ability to comprehend. We can only begin to imagine who God is and how God acts as we look to the Scriptures, as we look at the life of Jesus Christ and the activity of God’s Spirit through the community of faith. Not only is God is mystery, but so is much of God's creation. Perhaps not on the scale of majestic marvel, but there are many questions about creation that remain unanswered. And the sharpest minds throughout history and around the universe who have searched for answers all their lives come to conclude:   The more I know, the more I [...]

Mental Illness: What is the Answer? That is the Question!2019-04-28T21:35:39-04:00

Moving from Anxiety to Motivation

{This post was originally composed January 8, 2018.}   Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4.6)   My good friend Eric came over Saturday. We now have all the recording equipment necessary for our upcoming podcast, Revealing Voices and now need to learn how to use it before our debut on March 1. Eric also brought over a Ninja blender to make the smoothies we will drink and review on our show. Eric was here from 10:30 am - 3:30 pm and made tremendous progress. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. The more time passed, the more progress Eric made, and the more my mind became encased in a cage of anxiety. Eric is a good communicator, but because of my state of mind, here's what I heard: "Blah, blah, Skype, [...]

Moving from Anxiety to Motivation2019-04-21T19:19:06-04:00

A Faithful Response to Suicide

Prelude: Since I first wrote this, another friend has died. I wonder what I could have done to prevent it. I had not heard from him for several weeks. Should I have checked in? My heart burns in my chest and I feel like once again death has punched me in the gut. One thing I want to stress to the family members and friends of all whose life has ended in such a tragic way is that there is nothing you could have done to change the outcome. Don't beat yourself up wondering what you could have done to prevent it. Instead, let their legacy live on in the life you live. Let your memory of them shape your walk of faith in making a difference for those God brings your way.   {this was originally published on June 11, 2018}   I am a man of faith who [...]

A Faithful Response to Suicide2019-04-14T19:58:54-04:00

Faith in the Midst of Fear: A Love Story

Over Labor Day weekend in 2018, I met the woman who would 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 the last six months as if they were sixty. It has been thrilling, delightful, full of joy and peace. Some we love and who know us best have expressed concern over how quickly our relationship has developed. We respect this. Yet, we have received God's confirmation each step [...]

Faith in the Midst of Fear: A Love Story2019-02-24T06:53:23-04:00

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 Important2019-02-15T18:27:19-04:00

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 Burdens2019-02-06T22:24:08-04:00