Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission2017-06-24T18:57:55-04:00

Wave After Wave

O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you.  (Psalm 88:1)   I'm finding it difficult to breathe right now. My chest constricts. My heart aches. My gut churns. Tears are welling up inside me. I'm near collapse. What is happening? I am under attack both within and beyond. Wave after wave of enemies envelop me. Overwhelm me. Cut me off from the Breath of life. I believe; I also have doubts. Not about God, but about myself. Why would God pay attention to me? What if God wants to teach me a lesson by losing? I'm clenching my fist to a thread of hope as the waves crash around me. I see no raft, no rescue ship -- only the mist at sea. Where is this coming from? I have a marvelous life... A wonderful wife. A loyal dog. A loving family. Faithful friends. [...]

By |August 25th, 2019|Categories: Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

To a muse, myself.

Originally published September 10, 2018....   My senior year of college, I set out to write a book. To accomplish this, I had to get a muse. All great writers have muses. I made a list of qualities my muse had to have: 1)   She had to be beautiful. 2)  She had to be smart. 3)  She had to be passionate. I looked across campus and my eyes lit on a Botticelli Beauty with flowing blonde hair. Monique. She was reading The Stranger by Albert Camus, jotting down notes in her black leather journal. I later discovered this was filled with incisive quotes she uncovered to satisfy her thirst for inspired truth. Beautiful. Check. Smart. Check. I introduced myself and we soon became friends. We shared a common disdain for pop culture. We were disgusted by the same people, hated the same things. One might think we were a [...]

By |August 21st, 2019|Categories: Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Soul Eating Shame: Internalized Stigma

Shame is a soul eating emotion.  ― C.G. Jung Guilt can be good, if it leads to a change of heart, a transformed mind, reformed behavior. Shame, however, is a wicked parasite that feeds off not what we have done, but who we are. Shame is an external imposition. At least it starts that way. We are taught to feel ashamed. The 3-year old child of a friend once hopped out of the bathtub and took off running through the halls, shouting “I love my body. I love my body.” This innocent exuberance is soon replaced by quiet discretion which, if handled too roughly, can become shame the child feels over his body. Shame is not part of God’s created order.   Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.  (Genesis 2.25)   Shame only came about as a result of disobedience, of willful separation from [...]

By |August 19th, 2019|Categories: Ministry, Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Even in the chaos, there is encouragement.

I find delight when I write. More delight when people read what I write. And even more when readers respond to what I write. But I am perhaps most delighted when someone is moved in such a way by my work that they offer me an encouraging word or, one that challenges me to do better. Like this from a reader named Bev:   Tony,  I understand the focus of your email is mental illness.  However, it seems that examining your mental illness and dwelling on it makes it more intense.  I suffer from anxiety, and yet, I know that if I were to spend too much time thinking of it, it would be worse.  There are so many ways to become and stay stable that I don't want to spend time irritating a wound.  Today the sky is so lovely, and I will dwell on the good and the [...]

By |August 14th, 2019|Categories: Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

The New Asylums: A Dialogue on Mental Illness Behind Bars

I have been aware of the prevalence of persons with mental illness who are incarcerated. I also know first-hand how quality in-patient psychiatric care has all but disappeared. Still, this chart portrays the crisis of mental health care in our nation. And, from the numbers I've seen, it's only getting worse. What follows is a dialogue that took place in perhaps the best Facebook groups I belong to: Advocates for People with Mental Illness. I wish these folks were in policy-making posts rather than the ones we currently have.   J:   Neither peak seems to be healthy, at least not long term. I wonder where the curve would be in a good system. D:  The community health care system that was promised after institutions closed is a dignified response to caring for people who live with mental illness. Much cheaper than institutions and so much more effective and respectful. [...]

By |August 11th, 2019|Categories: Mental Illness|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness

I start this post with one basic assumption. Not all persons with mental illness are creative. Some sit around all day playing video solitaire, watching episodes of Judge Judy, counting the cars that pass by. Some persons with mental illness have neither the desire or the capacity (or both) to do anything that resembles creative expression. (Though you never know the depths of creativity lodged in their brains.) At the same time, I find my mental illness plays out in a creative way, primarily in my way with words. I'm not Hemingway. It's not quality, but quantity for me. Most of my waking and sleeping hours are spent plotting how I can use my words to the best effect. When I am under unusual amounts of stress, you will likely find me tucked away in a corner, Pilot G-2 gel pen gliding across a composition journal, describing the world [...]

By |August 7th, 2019|Categories: Mental Illness, Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Wave After Wave

O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you.  (Psalm 88:1)   I'm finding it difficult to breathe right now. My chest constricts. My heart aches. My gut churns. Tears are welling up inside me. I'm near collapse. What is happening? I am under attack both within and beyond. Wave after wave of enemies envelop me. Overwhelm me. Cut me off from the Breath of life. I believe; I also have doubts. Not about God, but about myself. Why would God pay attention to me? What if God wants to teach me a lesson by losing? I'm clenching my fist to a thread of hope as the waves crash around me. I see no raft, no rescue ship -- only the mist at sea. Where is this coming from? I have a marvelous life... A wonderful wife. A loyal dog. A loving family. Faithful friends. [...]

By |August 25th, 2019|Categories: Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

To a muse, myself.

Originally published September 10, 2018....   My senior year of college, I set out to write a book. To accomplish this, I had to get a muse. All great writers have muses. I made a list of qualities my muse had to have: 1)   She had to be beautiful. 2)  She had to be smart. 3)  She had to be passionate. I looked across campus and my eyes lit on a Botticelli Beauty with flowing blonde hair. Monique. She was reading The Stranger by Albert Camus, jotting down notes in her black leather journal. I later discovered this was filled with incisive quotes she uncovered to satisfy her thirst for inspired truth. Beautiful. Check. Smart. Check. I introduced myself and we soon became friends. We shared a common disdain for pop culture. We were disgusted by the same people, hated the same things. One might think we were a [...]

By |August 21st, 2019|Categories: Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Soul Eating Shame: Internalized Stigma

Shame is a soul eating emotion.  ― C.G. Jung Guilt can be good, if it leads to a change of heart, a transformed mind, reformed behavior. Shame, however, is a wicked parasite that feeds off not what we have done, but who we are. Shame is an external imposition. At least it starts that way. We are taught to feel ashamed. The 3-year old child of a friend once hopped out of the bathtub and took off running through the halls, shouting “I love my body. I love my body.” This innocent exuberance is soon replaced by quiet discretion which, if handled too roughly, can become shame the child feels over his body. Shame is not part of God’s created order.   Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.  (Genesis 2.25)   Shame only came about as a result of disobedience, of willful separation from [...]

By |August 19th, 2019|Categories: Ministry, Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Even in the chaos, there is encouragement.

I find delight when I write. More delight when people read what I write. And even more when readers respond to what I write. But I am perhaps most delighted when someone is moved in such a way by my work that they offer me an encouraging word or, one that challenges me to do better. Like this from a reader named Bev:   Tony,  I understand the focus of your email is mental illness.  However, it seems that examining your mental illness and dwelling on it makes it more intense.  I suffer from anxiety, and yet, I know that if I were to spend too much time thinking of it, it would be worse.  There are so many ways to become and stay stable that I don't want to spend time irritating a wound.  Today the sky is so lovely, and I will dwell on the good and the [...]

By |August 14th, 2019|Categories: Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

The New Asylums: A Dialogue on Mental Illness Behind Bars

I have been aware of the prevalence of persons with mental illness who are incarcerated. I also know first-hand how quality in-patient psychiatric care has all but disappeared. Still, this chart portrays the crisis of mental health care in our nation. And, from the numbers I've seen, it's only getting worse. What follows is a dialogue that took place in perhaps the best Facebook groups I belong to: Advocates for People with Mental Illness. I wish these folks were in policy-making posts rather than the ones we currently have.   J:   Neither peak seems to be healthy, at least not long term. I wonder where the curve would be in a good system. D:  The community health care system that was promised after institutions closed is a dignified response to caring for people who live with mental illness. Much cheaper than institutions and so much more effective and respectful. [...]

By |August 11th, 2019|Categories: Mental Illness|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness

I start this post with one basic assumption. Not all persons with mental illness are creative. Some sit around all day playing video solitaire, watching episodes of Judge Judy, counting the cars that pass by. Some persons with mental illness have neither the desire or the capacity (or both) to do anything that resembles creative expression. (Though you never know the depths of creativity lodged in their brains.) At the same time, I find my mental illness plays out in a creative way, primarily in my way with words. I'm not Hemingway. It's not quality, but quantity for me. Most of my waking and sleeping hours are spent plotting how I can use my words to the best effect. When I am under unusual amounts of stress, you will likely find me tucked away in a corner, Pilot G-2 gel pen gliding across a composition journal, describing the world [...]

By |August 7th, 2019|Categories: Mental Illness, Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments