A Blessed Rejection

I am still manic, showing no signs of slowing down. It is delightful, but also exceedingly dangerous. Some studies suggest that each severe manic episode you experience in your lifetime robs you of functioning for the future. Chemical highs from the brain may do as much damage as those induce by substances consumed. It is possible that for hour I spend in exercising frenetic energy, I am limiting both the quantity and quality of my life. A good friend who battles bipolar herself reminded me of this today. Our exchange went something like this:   Tony: BJ, if you are interested in receiving a free e-newsletter about When Despair Meets Delight, simply reply with your email address. Thanks! BJ: Tony, I am not interested, and here is why: I am concerned about you. As much as I want you to succeed, I am concerned you are taking on too much. [...]

A Blessed Rejection2020-05-20T14:36:07-04:00

What to Pray When Prayer Isn’t Called For

It has been almost forty years now that I have been in some form of ministry. During this time, I have asked thousands of people if I might pray for them. People of all ages, various social and ethnic backgrounds, political perspectives, sexual identities. Believers and non-believers. Christians of all stripes as well as people of other faiths and those who claim no faith at all. In four decades I can count on one hand the number of persons who were not grateful for my prayers or offer to pray. And many, many times, bringing the subject up has opened the door to spiritual intimacy that is tremendously nourishing. In my Hope for Troubled Minds Facebook community, I have been messaging members for prayer requests. I then write their responses in a notebook and look them over at various times through the week. Their prayers are unique, but they also [...]

What to Pray When Prayer Isn’t Called For2020-05-03T20:08:25-04:00

An Epistle from the Epidemic by Rev. Leslie D. Rust

In this age of anxiety about the virus crisis, some spread scare tactics that produce panic. Others point to hope in the midst of despair, faith in the face of fear, peace where worry abounds. Les Rust is one of the latter. I've known Les since our grad school days at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. We were in some classes together and were part of a small weekly prayer group. Les has a non-anxious presence well-worn in his short bearded stature. His sweet Appalachian drawl conveyed the thoughtful well-read Southern intelligence often discounted by ignorant Yankees as hillbilly nonsense. A graduate of Berea College, Les has a wood worker's hands and a pastor's heart. I'm blessed to call him a friend, my brother in Christ. Of all the arrows in his quiver, I appreciate his gift for writing the most. I am thrilled he is putting this to good use in [...]

An Epistle from the Epidemic by Rev. Leslie D. Rust2020-03-18T09:00:16-04:00

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 Riddle2019-02-17T21:13:40-05:00

Love for the Unlovable

I composed and published the following post on November 26, 2017. I'm glad to say I have much more for which to be thankful. I am in a wonderful relationship with a beautiful and intelligent woman. I have been hired as a Faith & Mental Health Advocate for a vibrant and progressive church. My son has experienced a remarkable recovery from a mysterious, debilitating condition. Yet, given my illness, I still cycle rapidly through bouts of depression and bursts of mania. Yesterday was a low point. I wanted to spend the day with my lady friend, but wound up wallowing in bed until 4:30 pm. The day got better and today hasn't been so bad, but I still carry a pall of darkness that I can't shake.  It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here's what I wrote last year....   I have been mired [...]

Love for the Unlovable2018-11-21T17:24:52-05:00

Briley “The Biscuit” Roberts

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” ― Mark Twain. This week I got a new best friend. Her name is Briley "The Biscuit" Roberts. I have spent the better part of six days now with Briley and we have become quite attached. I find that I can no longer do things on a whim. I have to think through how it will impact Briley. Can she go with me? Will I put her in a crate? What if I'm gone a long while? Could I get someone to check in on her? Since becoming a parent, I have not taken such a life-altering step. And I'm loving it. I have been a dog owner before. Growing up, we had a dog named Sparky. Actually, if you ask my sister we had a series of dogs named Sparky that kept [...]

Briley “The Biscuit” Roberts2018-05-30T21:16:25-04:00

even more friends: to me, to my friends, and to famous folks (part 3 of 3)

While your spouse may well be your most intimate friend, s/he should never be your only friend. If you try to let off all your steam in the marriage relationship, there is bound to be an explosion.  ~ Tony Roberts.   I am mad, I am going under, I must follow the advice of a friend, and pay no heed to myself. ― Stendhal, The Red and the Black.   Someone you were meant to spend your life with. Those you realize God orchestrated into your life from the beginning.  ~ Paula Mellencamp Hauch.   “We were two throats and one eye and we had no price.” ― Toni Morrison.   Friendship....unconditional love...it continues beyond time and space.....feels like your favorite old comfortable clothes. A friend doesn't judge, critize, only gives advice when asked...they listen.  ~ Deva Richey.   It is proper for people to have friends, friendships without self-interest. Without friends, life is [...]

even more friends: to me, to my friends, and to famous folks (part 3 of 3)2018-05-27T20:25:49-04:00

more friends: to me, to my friends, and to famous folks.

I like my friends like I like my coffee -- strong enough to wake me up in the morning, yet smooth enough to ease me into the day.  ~ Tony Roberts.   I think that real friendship always makes us feel such sweet gratitude, because the world almost always seems like a very hard desert, and the flowers that grow there seem to grow against such high odds.― Stephen King,   A good friend is not overly sensitive and makes a better effort at communication and contact.  ~ Rachel Yahne-Oakes   A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend. ― Emily Dickinson   9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, [...]

more friends: to me, to my friends, and to famous folks.2018-05-26T16:34:47-04:00

a friend… to me, to my friends, and to famous folks.

A friend is... ... the boy who plays you in 1-on-1 until the score reaches 1 million to 1 million. ... the girl who teaches you to do cartwheels with no hands. ... the guy who takes you cruising while you listen to "Running with the Devil," on volume 11. ... the '67 Belvedere that gets you where you need to go even when it won't shift into reverse. ... the roommate who stays up all night with you every time a girl turns you down. ... the guitar player who sings John Prine songs with you every night after dinner. ... the one who goes with you to Waffle House at 3 in the morning to finish your term paper. ... the man who visits you on the psych unit and makes it seem like you are sitting at your kitchen table. ... the woman who messages you about everything [...]

a friend… to me, to my friends, and to famous folks.2018-05-25T09:38:34-04:00

Resolve to be Loving, Kind, and Just

One feature of the bipolar disorder illness I have is that my goals are high and when I don't reach them, I plummet into a pit of depression. When I am manic, I think I can conquer the world and when I don't, the world comes crashing down upon me. It's a vicious cycle and I know of no sure way to prevent it. Spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible study, worship and fellowship, can temporarily temper the extreme highs and lows. Yet, try as I might to remain positive, too often I wind up sitting on the edge of the cliff with Jonah, the sun burning hot on my flesh, wallowing in waves of self-pity. When I'm manic, I think I can conquer the world and when I don't, the world comes crashing down upon me. Mental illness is extremely self-centered. Some people find this very offensive, [...]

Resolve to be Loving, Kind, and Just2018-01-19T16:10:24-05:00