Neither to the Left Nor to the Right: My Story, My Message, My Mission

Those who know me best know that I am not into partisan politics. My stomach churns equally from the Left and the Right. This does not mean I don’t care about political issues. You don’t have to know me very well to know that my identity as a Christ follower who battles bipolar disorder impacts all I think, feel, write, and act. I have and will continue to advocate strenuously for policies that enhance the care of those impacted by serious mental illness (SMI). Yet, also, for the sake of my own well-being and to better share the fullness of abundant life, I'm going to share something I published some time ago about who and Whose I am.   My Story In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a small village church.  One Sunday, I delivered a sermon on human illness and divine healing in which I shared [...]

Neither to the Left Nor to the Right: My Story, My Message, My Mission2020-02-12T17:39:06-05:00

Revealing Voices: A Faith-Based, Peer-Led, Story-Driven, Stigma-Breaking Podcast

I was over at Studio E recording Revealing Voices with my good friend Eric over a glass of wine. Between sips, Eric looked at me quizzically and asked, "How many of your readers listen to our podcast?" I was dumbfounded. Literally found dumb. "I have no idea!" I exclaimed, "Furthermore, I don't even know how many of my readers know about Revealing Voices." [Note: Eric and I don't always drink wine, but when we do, we can be redundant and say things like furthermore.] How about you? Yes, you, Delight in Disorder reader out there. The one looking at this post on your mobile phone, your iPad, laptop, PC, or God-knows-whatever-other-kind of technology. Do you know about Revealing Voices? If so, have you checked us out? Let me share a little about our show: Several podcasts touch on mental health. Others bring up topics of faith. We offer a unique faith-based, [...]

Revealing Voices: A Faith-Based, Peer-Led, Story-Driven, Stigma-Breaking Podcast2020-01-26T20:25:49-05:00

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

Grandma’s Prayer: How Long?

I have little to say. The thought of composing a post from scratch seems insurmountable. But I don't want to give up. I know there are people who read my work looking for encouraging words. Not false hope, for sure, not even a hope that can be seen, but a hope that is rooted in the Good News of Christ:   The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  (John 1.5)   I do a lot of self-reflection here and there is a method in my madness. I have found working in mental health ministry that more people are willing to explore their own emotional struggles if you first share yours. But there is a great danger in this. You can get so caught up in musing on your misery that you bring others down rather than lift them up. I'm determined  not to do that. So, [...]

Grandma’s Prayer: How Long?2019-06-23T19:44:51-04:00

Is Depression ‘of God’? – Leanne Sype

In 2013, I partnered with Leanne Sype to begin the process that led to the publication of Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. I was thrilled with her work as editor, a crowdfunding consultant,a spiritual adviser, and friend. Here is some of her story. *** I have depression. It’s called “situational depression” because it was induced by the situation of both my kids being diagnosed with mental illnesses. My son has ADHD. My daughter has depression and anxiety, which, for her, include symptoms like self-harm and thoughts of wanting to die. Over the course of navigating treatments, advocating for academic accommodations, and engaging in the bulk of the emotional support for each kiddo, I felt depression slowly weigh down on my chest. *** I once had a Christian friend tell me that anything with the prefix de- isn’t “of God.” Depression fell into that category in our conversation. Whether that [...]

Is Depression ‘of God’? – Leanne Sype2019-05-15T20:07:09-04:00

Sharing Delight in Disorder

Since my book was published, I've not done much to get the word out. As a result, I haven't sold many copies. People who have read it tell me what a difference it has made in their lives, but I have not followed up on this and reached out to others. I have a hard time walking the fine line between bragging about myself and celebrating what God is doing in my life. Lately, I have come to accept the importance of the mission God has called me to carry out. There are so many people impacted by mental illness who are in desperate need of saving faith. As the body of Christ, it's our delightful duty to show compassion for hurting souls. The emotional anguish caused by brain diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, is as real and agonizing as any bodily pain caused by a physical [...]

Sharing Delight in Disorder2019-04-02T18:17:15-04:00

Mixing Ministry with Mental Illness

How could I serve in ministry with a serious mental illness? How could someone riding manic highs dipping to deadly lows promote stable growth for a congregation? How could I faithfully hear God's voice in the midst of competing voices within and around me? These questions stir my mind and stab my heart.   My mind says yes -- I served as a minister with bipolar for almost two decades, a good dozen of which were quite fruitful. My heart grieves that my illness progressed such that, in 2009, I stepped away from pastoral ministry for health reasons. The story I want to share here is not what led to my decline but what, by the grace of God and with the help of the church, has allowed me to serve in ministry with a serious mental illness.   Persistent Prayer Partners I fell into the pit of psychological despair [...]

Mixing Ministry with Mental Illness2019-03-10T21:18:29-04:00

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 Story2019-02-24T06:53:23-05:00

How We Talk When We Talk About Faith and Mental Illness

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” ― George Orwell, 1984 "... speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ." (Ephesians 4.13) Language can build up. It can also tear down. Language can reveal truth or it can perpetuate lies. An inspired Word creates the world. A death-dealing sentence can go a long way to destroying it. When I studied for ministry, I became keenly aware of how language impacts people.  It was 1989, the year the  New Revised Standard Version of the Bible came out. This version, among other things, changed the male pronouns referring to humanity to more gender-neutral ones. It was quite awkward for me at first, but I got used to it and the more I studied the original languages and the evolution of the English language, I could appreciate why the changes were made. Yet, there are other [...]

How We Talk When We Talk About Faith and Mental Illness2018-12-12T17:55:27-05:00

Running from the bipolar that runs in me.

One of my readers recently  contacted me with a heart-wrenching life story. As much as I wanted her words to be unique to this one family, I was trapped by just how much they applied to me and so many other persons with bipolar disorder: "... my husband was diagnosed with bipolar four years ago, and was on medication. However, he decided to stop last summer (unbeknownst to anyone) and then, in the midst of a manic phase, left me and our family in November. He still professes Christ, but has filed for divorce and has accumulated $40,000 in debt. I have struggled with trusting him and anything he says, as you can imagine. Yet here, I see you are a man of faith, and some of the same issues have taken place in your life. As it stands now, this is in God's hands. God has been good [...]

Running from the bipolar that runs in me.2018-12-10T17:05:19-05:00