One of the labels for the mental illness I have is bipolar disorder 1, rapid cycler. This means that my mood state constantly changes. I often go from abject despair to supreme elevation, and back again in less than the time it takes to complete a sentence. It is exhausting. It’s like running a marathon at a sprinter’s pace, with no water stations to rest. The body can’t take this for long, much less the mind and spirit. The challenges we have faced in 2020 have tried the souls of many, even those with no mental health diagnosis. Added to this the death of both my parents and it is little wonder that the First Quarter of 2021 has hit me like a horrendous hangover.
But there is hope. Even when circumstances around us seem bleak, there is a glimmer of hope. As a follower of Christ, I celebrate this day the Easter hope of his Resurrection. I cling to this Good News. Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again. And those who die in Christ receive new life — abundant and eternal.
Some say this news is too good to be true, too extravagant to be believed, too outrageous to be accepted. I say it’s too good not to be true. It’s amazing. Amazing grace. Just the sort of amazing grace a loving Parent shares with her hurting child. Just the sort of divine hope a Creator who cares offers his creatures who often lack hope.
Now I live with this Gospel hope. And I am eager to share this hope with others.
When I admitted myself to the psych unit in February I was in desperate need of healing. But there is something about being a pastor, even a former pastor, that can draw others to me like a spiritual syringe. Within 10 minutes of arriving on the floor, a young man I’ll call Alan came up to me. He had a lost expression. “Is this the Apacalypse?” he asked, ” Are we going to be okay?” I couldn’t engage much, but I did tell him I believe God knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us more than we imagine. Yes, we are going to be okay.
The night before I was discharged, I woke up in the middle of the night weary and worried. I knew it was time to leave but I didn’t know if I was ready. I got up from bed and went to get some water. In the common room I found Alan seated at a table reading his Bible. I went over to him and sat in silence. He looked up and smiled.
“We’re going to be okay.”
Alan started to pray. His comforting words were soothing. Two other men on the unit heard him and joined us at our table.
Yes, we are going to be okay.