Honoring God by Loving Others

One of my faithful readers sent me some thoughtful questions. First -- How does one differentiate between experiencing emotional turmoil in their life, and experiencing mental health issues that may require additional aid? (Medicine, Therapy, etc) This points to a very difficult and sometimes controversial distinction in mental health care. Some people are sad by virtue of their circumstances. Time, while it may not remove the sadness, helps to heal. Others, however, have chronic depression that can incapacitate them for weeks, months, even years at a time. Some become anxious in social situations. With the help of proper relaxation techniques, they can face their fears and persist. Others have acute panic attacks that are often confused with heart conditions. Some persons are moody, experiencing highs and lows that seem beyond what is normal. Others have debilitating lows and dangerous highs. How can we determine who is in emotional turmoil and [...]

Honoring God by Loving Others2018-11-15T18:30:24-04:00

Guilt is Good; Shame is Sinful

Some time ago, a friend wrote to me a blog comment in which she raises a very tough question  She writes this -- We have a dear, Christian friend who has stage 4 cancer. Although he lives a good life, helping others and spreading the word of God, he believes that God is punishing him for his past sins by giving him cancer. Do you believe God punishes people for their sins? Especially after a person has found the Lord and changed his/her life?  I wrote back -- Wow, big question. It depends on how you define "punishment". Certainly, God allows natural consequences for our behavior. A life-long smoker may develop lung cancer and God may choose not to miraculously intervene. I would say, though, that in a case such as this we are really the ones who have punished ourselves, "fallen into the pit of our own making." The good [...]

Guilt is Good; Shame is Sinful2018-09-26T13:25:52-04:00

Dealing with Suicide

I'm doing an interview with Brainstorms tomorrow.  Brainstorms is a radio show hosted by Megan Malfi on Hamilton Radio focusing mostly on mental health and mental disabilities or disorders. On Brainstorms they are always striving to learn more about different mental disorders, how they can help others stay mentally healthy, and how to cope with mental illness in ourselves or a loved one.  "Whether we’re talking about things we love that make us happy or things that give us stress, our goal is always to convey the message that YOU HAVE VALUE." Megan and I have been communicating for about a month on how we can be mutually supportive in our ministries. She very graciously offered to take the first step and invite me on her program. As a diligent host, she has since read Delight in Disorder and has asked very soul-searching questions. One is this -- A lot of [...]

Dealing with Suicide2018-07-18T23:28:51-04:00

Happy Daddy Day

It's Fathers Day. I've celebrated with my Dad the blessings he has brought into my life. Now I'm doing an honest assessment of who I have been as a father to my four children. I want to steer clear of a depressive pity party as well as a manic recounting of my amazing moments. Just remember. The good along with the not-so-good. I was not prepared to be a father. Is anyone? But when they handed me my bundled baby girl, my heart melted. I was as grateful to God as I have ever been. The prospect that this child was mine filled me with delight as well as desperation. How would I provide for her? What if I screw up? Who the hell did God think I was to deserve such a blessing? It's been over 26 years now since that glorious day and here are three things I [...]

Happy Daddy Day2018-06-18T01:22:50-04:00

Hiding From the Power of God

Last year, I witnessed God's amazing power in so many ways. My father survived intricate bypass of his carotid artery. Then a stent placement. Then a bypass of the bypass, which had become clogged with scar tissue. I made a commitment to healthy eating and exercise. I lost 30 pounds in 3 months and felt the best I can remember. My step-mom pulled through a delicate spinal implant. I was rear-ended and wound up spending 5 days in the medical-behavioral unit to address both physical and psychological needs. As a result of the injury, I have chronic neck and back pain. But it could have been much, much worse. My 94-year old grandmother, who very much wanted to let go of the burdens of this life, passed into the next in a beautiful way, in her room, within the house she helped build. Surrounded by loved ones. My son, who [...]

Hiding From the Power of God2018-04-26T10:44:33-04:00

Granny Told Me His Name: Lee Ann Leach

It was just about two weeks ago that I found out that others didn’t hear noises in their heads like I do. I have had them all my life. Normal sounds. A car door slamming. A bell ringing. A buzzing sound. Someone saying my name. A ping. This is just one symptom of my mental illness. Right from the start the nurses in the nursery in the hospital where I was born immediately noticed that I was the “most nervous baby” they all had ever seen. Alberta Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1971. There was a great pouring out of the Spirit in the area at the time and there were revivals going on all over town. Embry Williams was preaching at a week night revival at Alberta Baptist Church. I don’t remember the sermon or what really happened that night, but I do know that I walked down and [...]

Granny Told Me His Name: Lee Ann Leach2018-03-18T16:22:29-04:00

Reaching Out; Letting Go: Kelcey Rockhold

Kelcey Rockhold is an exiled Portlandier now living in Tuscon. I ran across her story as I was browsing for personal narratives about depression. We have followed each other over three years now and I have found our writing relationship very enriching and inspirational. Kelcey is in a much different place than where she was three years ago and it has been a blessing to see her grow. +     +     + For years, I was told by medical professionals that I most likely wouldn’t have kids. Sometimes I would hear that I “shouldn’t”. My mental state for quite a few years was rocky to say the least, due in large part to an eating disorder I was battling. My heart was broken for so long, believing deep down that I would never have kids, even though that was the only thing in the world I [...]

Reaching Out; Letting Go: Kelcey Rockhold2018-02-11T19:33:02-04:00

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

Good Boundaries

{excerpt from Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission} "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;  surely I have a delightful inheritance." (Psalm 16.6) One thing I have experienced in the time I've spent at psychiatric hospitals is that there are many rules. Rules about toiletries, belt buckles, shoes with strings, and other personal effects. Rules about visits and contact with others. Rules about schedules -- time to sleep and meet and eat and rest. Since I am one who generally functions best with good, clear boundaries, these rules haven't bothered me so much. I've benefited quite well from them and have come to appreciate their value. There's a part of us all, though, that constantly tries to get around the rules. Like the man who found a staff person willing to bring him Starbuck's coffee (for a steep tip, no doubt) to replace the lukewarm dishwater [...]

Good Boundaries2017-09-18T13:15:51-04:00

The Grim Disbelief of Sylvia Plath

 Sylvia Plath doesn't reflect much on God in her early journals, but when she goes to provide child care for a Christian Science family, we see a developing theology which, though unorthodox, she articulates well.  She finds some common ground with Christian Science, in the value placed on the importance of thought (Mind).  But she differs in her perspective on the basis of this Mind. Now that I ponder over it, I do see a sudden neat edifice of logic, and I do agree with some of their generalizations in spite of the fact that I am philosophically at the other end of the pole, - a "matter worshiper". Yet, Plath is certainly more complex than a simple "Material Girl". I believe that there is a realm (abstractly, hypothetically, of course) of absolute fact.  Something IS.  And that, in our poor human lingo, would be the "truth". No sooner [...]

The Grim Disbelief of Sylvia Plath2017-06-12T17:25:09-04:00