Right Back Up. . .

Back to high energy, which started last night.  TOok me forever to fall asleep last night, and I am awake this morning.  I’ve finished decorating for the Christmas Party and have started on my Christmas cards–I did all of Bob’s work cards and am about to start on my Sunday School class cards. WE’re going to need new cards–these  I bought on sale last year at the Hallmark Store and I’m almost out already.   They’re Snoopy cards! 🙂  Hopefully I can find some more like them for my family.

Last night’s sermon was so applicable to what I’ve been going through.  I went and accused the pastor of reading my blog :).  He talked about how Rachel and Leah, Jacob’s wives, competed for him and his love by having children and how their identity got bound up in that, which was the only status symbols available to them in that time.   Leah wanted Jacob’s love but didn’t get it no matter how many children she had, so God brought her to where she finally realized God was what she needed.  Rachel had Jacob’s love but it wasn’t enough–she wanted children like Leah had. And God had to bring her to a place of brokenness to where she realized all she had was GOd–and he was what she needed.

What this tells me is that I’m not going to find my identity anywhere but in Jesus and be satisfied.  Not in publishing or in motherhood competition or anywhere else.  I need to keep reminding myself of that and doing what I can operating out of that truth. So.  We will see what GOd does with this truth in my life.

 

 

Another Good Day

Today went fairly well considering how tired I’ve been. I got all my laundry cleaned up yesterday and will work on Bob’s tomorrow.  I  worked up dinner, nothing very complicated tonight after doing something fairly complex last night.  BUt I’m trying.

That is the most frustrating thing–I keep trying and trying and feel like I am getting nowhere in  my life.  I just asked God flat out this afternoon what was I supposed to be doing RIGHT NOW.   And I got the scripture from Ecclesiastes 3 1-8.  “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die.  A time to plant and a time to uproot.  A time to kill and a time to heal.  A time to tear down and a time to build.  A time to weep and a time to laugh.  A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to scatter stone and a time to gather them.  A time to embrace and a time to refrain.  A time to search and a time to give up.  a time to keep and a time to throw away.  A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

So okay. I know that. l get that.  But what is it you want me to do now?  What season am I in?  I still don’t know the answer.  All I know is how to put one foot in front of the other and  do the best I can.

 

Afterwards

That summer, on our anniversary, I game Bob the gift I had bought him in March—a Swiss watch with his initials and our twentieth anniversary date engraved on the back of it. I told him I had bought it was a symbol of all our time together, but now that I knew we had been unequally yoked for so long, I wanted it to be a symbol of the future where we would truly be one united in marriage with God as the head of our household.

I’m not going to say everything has been easy after that. I still at times made snap decisions without consulting with God first.  But I knew now to ask forgiveness and go back to God and ask him what to do.  Most often the answer I got to most questions was “wait.”  In March 2014 I fell into another depression, where I again started to question God’s presence in my life. But there were crucial differences in this depression and others—I had no desire to kill myself, and I had the strength to keep functioning day after day without resorting to sleep or other means of escape. Instead, I wrote an essay about how I was doing, day to day, living with bipolar disorder the best I could. I sent it to a secular journal to see what they had to say about it.

I stayed out of the hospital even though I was simply plodding along now, waiting for the depression to lift. I changed medications again, and finally in May I woke up one morning feeling decent for the first time in many, many days.  I thanked God for bringing me through it and went on about my life—again with the awareness that something was different, and that something was Jesus. In early September, I got a personal response from the journal that said the piece I had written about bipolar disorder was very good but too narrow in focus for their publication.

I read over it, and although I was initially a little upset, I saw that the audience for this piece really wasn’t the ordinary reader—it was for people who suffered from bipolar disorder who needed some hope that life could somehow be better for them than mania on one end and depression on the other. So I started on this story and the blog, praying and hoping to possibly reach that audience somehow, somewhere. . Within two weeks, I had over 100 page views on the new blog and comments from people on how reading my story was helping them.  I felt had found an audience that wanted to read what I had to say.

My Decision

After about six months of wondering about that, after sermon after sermon hammering away at my ideas about spirituality and God, I finally decided I had to come to terms with my life once and for all.

In service, my pastor was talking about people who thought they knew God but didn’t, who held to a “form” of godliness that was all in their own minds. One of my arguments with God was that I had lived my life “right”—I went to church and tithed, I didn’t drink or smoke or cuss out loud, I didn’t gamble or spend money wildly, I listened to Christian music most of the time,  I took care of my husband and my kids and tried to work when I was able to, I wasn’t an irresponsible person, I lived and played by “the rules” and wondered why God wasn’t rewarding me for any of that with the kind of success I craved.

It came to me that I was asking the wrong question. What if God loved me too much to give me what I thought I wanted?  What I wanted was for people to notice me and tell me what a good girl I was—much like I had when I was younger and wanted my mom’s approval. I wanted worldly acclaim for my talents and was acting just like someone who wasn’t a Christian might do when that didn’t happen.  I was all the time strategizing and trying to bring success my own way because I wasn’t asking God what he wanted me to do—I was all the time asking God to bless what I wanted to do.

I felt that the fight I was having with God was actually very simple—who was going to be in charge of my life? God or me?  My pastor had preached often about people professing God but living however they wanted to, and he started pointing out that even if what you wanted wasn’t morally wrong, if it wasn’t what God wanted, you were still in rebellion.  You could spend your life doing good, but if it was all for your own self-aggrandizement and not following what God wanted to you do, it was all for naught.  Those were the people who would ask God, “Did we not prophesy and cast out demons in your name?” and he would say, “Depart from me; I never knew you.”

So that Sunday in May, I just asked Jesus to come into my heart and clean it all out and take it for himself. I told him my life was a mess, and I couldn’t fix it.  I said I needed him to come in and take over.  And I began to cry at the peace I finally felt knowing I was making the right decision, to let God be God in my life and that I no longer was going to live in rebellion against his will. If he wanted me to be bipolar, so be it. I was going to trust him to protect me and my mind through both the good times and the bad.

I went home that day a free woman. Bob hadn’t been able to come to church that day, and when I got home, I went into the bedroom where he was sitting at the computer. I whispered to him, “You know, I think I finally got saved today” in his ear.

He turned and stared up at me. I don’t know what look was on my face, but whatever it was, the truth was evident.  He pulled me into his lap and said. “Oh, my precious.  I’m so glad.”

We talked for a while. I told him what I had said to God.  I told him I believed I needed to be baptized again to show that I was really coming under God’s power and needed to testify that I was finally going to live in God’s strength.  I went down front and explained my decision to my pastor a few weeks later, and that night, I was baptized in front of the whole Sunday night crowd, who had seen me in that church now for two decades.

My Walk

After struggling through 2011 and 2012, 2013 seemed to be going well. I had stayed out of the hospital for another spring and was teaching my fifth semester at the community college that had hired me in January 2011.  I had told them about my disorder, but teaching seemed to really be working for me.  I had two classes two days a week and took care of the house and kids the rest of the time.  My marriage was on an even keel—we were going to celebrate 20 years married in June with a trip to Nashville that summer. Everything was going well..  Except in my spiritual walk.

I had been mad at God for a long time about having bipolar disorder. Every time I hit a rough patch, I was back blaming God for making me this way. All I wanted was a normal life—and I second-guessed every decision I made to death.  I wasn’t looking for God’s guidance in anything because I really didn’t trust him to have what I thought were my best interests at heart.

My experiences in church reinforced to me what a barren life I was living. I enjoyed hearing the sermons and Bible teachings and tried to apply them to my life, but I was growing more and more aware how far my daily thoughts were from God.  From obsessing over worries to making decisions without his guidance, I wasn’t operating like a Christian should.  I kept wondering why I never wanted to read the Bible, why I never had the kind of joy in life that the Bible talks about that wasn’t dependent on outside factors, why I never could seem to help anyone in ministry no matter what I tried, why I couldn’t concentrate on talking to God in prayer without asking for me, me, me to get what I wanted.

I knew the verse in Romans 8:28 that said ”All things work together for good for those that love the Lord, who are called according to his purpose.” I wondered what my purpose in life was.  I couldn’t think of any reason for me to have this disease except that God somehow wanted me to help people like me see some hope for themselves, but I was having such a time with my own struggle with God I certainly wouldn’t have been able to speak very convincingly about him with my life having so recently been a shambles.

I was starting to wonder if I was a Christian at all after all.