Underneath the trappings we’re decaying

My personal Bible study is going through the Book of Revelations. There are 7 church’s addressed each receive praise and instructions. Philadelphia gets a lot of praise but Sardis gets a lot of warnings including that while they seem alive they are really dead.

I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. (Rev 3:1)

From my commentary:

We cover up the dead places in ourselves with all sorts of regalia. We fill the emptiness with fine clothing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, or relationships in which the other is set up as god. Underneath the trappings, though, we’re decaying.*

To me at least this soooo takes me to my mental health issues… For years I had been trying to fulfil the void inside that could only be filled by God… instead, I sought my self-worth in what I was performing and trying to show-off how important I was… trying to feel special and acknowledged by those around me….

Underneath the trappings, though, we’re decaying.

I had a huge dead place inside – and for me – the longer I chose to avoid it – the bigger it became… until I finally reached a point where the void was so big, I slipped off the edge and fell into it… and was forced to deal with it… and have God save me… but not before I hit the bottom with my depression, anxiety and BPD to the point of suicidal thoughts that would haunt me daily for months and months… and they still pop-up from out of nowhere still and can leave me quivering – literally, physically inside I feel like a taser or something has hit me…

I’m working the way out of the void with God’s help, however, there are scars… working and battling with God in the void isn’t easy… physically my brain is actually changed… I need – require medications to keep me from returning and falling back into the void…

Is it a case of lack of faith? No… Is a diabetic lacking faith by using insulin?

And just like a diabetic – somedays are better than others… it depends on way too many factors to list…

The good news is – I have God on my side… if I stay close to Him – listen to His spirit whispering to my heart and soul words of wisdom, I’m okay – even on the days which are not so good…

And prayer, but just not alone – I have a support network in place – I can send out a text message and know they are also praying on my behalf…

Growth – I am actively (well hopefully more days than not) seeking God’s will through not only reading my devotions but also in a group with women doing a 12-step from Celebrate Recovery – I do not have any personal gain by mentioning this other than knowing it works. The women in my groups have all different ways we have met – substance abuse, sexual abuse, anger, food addiction, codependency… but the one things we do have – a growing faith in God and building a network to support each other…

 

*Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Mental Health and Faith

One of my all time favorite pastors is Chuck Swindoll

He preaches with humor and eloquence, love and truth while showing me who God really, that God He loves me and then Chuck guides me to know God better…

In a recent email Chuck talks about endearing faith… And it’s totally CR (to me at least)…

I know that some days or some weeks or such are going to “suck”… It’s going to “seem” as if God has forgotten me (at least in an area of my life)…

I’m very impatient especially with my Borderline Personality Disorder… I NEED to have the answer NOW please and thank you… BUT God doesn’t work that way…

Chuck writes “We’re very fickle in our faith, aren’t we? We are inconsistent, ambivalent.”

As a human, the longer it takes to get an answer the more I doubt myself… And the head games start playing… Remember I just wrote that I’m impatient?

Abraham… Promised a family that would become as numerous as the sand on the shore – took a long time to be fulfilled, Noah – 100 years until the flood…

Saul wrote about this in James 1:2-3

Here is what God wants me to learn today… I need my faith to grow… growth takes time… It builds through endurance… Sometimes very long endurance…

Then when “longer term” issues come I will have the faith I need because I have built up to a level where I can on faith…

Do I have faith endurance to last hours, weeks, months, years?

And with mental health it’s not a short time issue (there is no take one happy pill and wake up fine)… It’s life long battle so on the better days I should seek to strengthen my faith… And on hard times I can rely on the endurance I have built with God knowing I will get through it…

The CR part? On the days where I find my faith is waning, I have my sponsor and accountability partners to help… And the truth I have learned in the 12 steps AND 8 principles (8 based on the word of God)…

I blogged about how I was stressed and needing to rejoice instead yesterday… So I lay down last night and closed my eyes and rejoiced ever anything I could think of… God, family and memories, friends and memories, where I live, food, shelter, clothes, remembering times and trials God has brought me through already… Just anything I could recall… and I woke up this morning not nearly as stressed… It was as if I had been sheltered and cuddled under His wing all night…

It’s a nice feeling to wake up to…

For Such a Time as This, Ester & CR

The book of Ester reads more like a fairytale than any other books of the Bible… there is a beautiful Queen, King, hero and a villain… but twisted plot where God shows himself… It’s a good read…

Queen Ester 

But this story isn’t a fairytale… It’s real life… I’ll skip to a later part in the plot but you still have to read the Bible’s story on your own…

God uses people where they are in life – there is no waiting until I have graduated from where ever… or only if I have memorised 1,000 verses or say the names of the books of the Bible forwards and backwards and in pigs-latin…

Through no seeking or desire, Ester is among a group of women selected to become the next queen…

The key point in this blog post is that Ester does become a queen – but the position doesn’t have perks or authority… The king usually called for the queen to come – a queen to seek audience could mean death… The Israelites were captives in a foreign land – and politically about to be annihilated…

Ester 4:14  The wise uncle challenges Queen Ester –

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” 

For such a time a this – it is said that God never leaves to hurt go unused (Rom 8:28)… He doesn’t cause the hurt… sin does – maybe not ours – maybe it is ours… consequences of generational sin have caught up and we have to deal with them now…

Side notes: If you are struggling with something, no matter how small or trivial you may think it is, or if you think it is TOO big for God to handle or forgive… enough!! Stop giving in to that lie! God already knows about it! Too small to be effective? Think about a tiny mosquito flying around your bedroom at night! 

Too big for God?? Hello? This is God we are talking about right? The God who created the universe and beyond! His yoke is light – give things over to him… 

For such a time as this…  this is your past, present and future – take what you have in the past and use it for God’s work – look at where you are right now – and see where God is taking you – future – see where God is leading you…This is where I love Celebrate Recovery…

This is totally why I love Celebrate Recovery…

A Tomato And Mental Health

 I was tending to my little garden, a hopeful success this summer (I usually kill anything).

As I was working my way down to my tomato plants – I saw it! My first tomato! (and yes I know there are more in the picture).

What makes this little tomato so special was a reflection on how 1, 2, or especially 3 years ago how far I have come. I could not have done gardening, some days getting out of bed was a monumental task…showers – self-care… I didn’t deserve any was my scrambled thinking…

So, this tomato is a big mile marker in my recovery…

Seeing new life instead of the massive urge to end my own.  I’m about 18 months on a med combo that’s working… It’s been a hard road with many dark days BUT also tonnes of prayers, not just mine – with my family and my network of support…

The BIGGEST reason though… God… That’s it. God… He never gave up on me… He brought people into my life at certain times… and I found my faith in Him again…

Restore us to Sanity

My recovery started one night at Celebrate Recovery with the words …
We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity (Step 2).
I need my sanity back… That’s all I basically remember from my first few meetings… However, it was enough to keep me coming back…

A few days before my first meeting – I had tried suicide…

My life has SOOOO changed since then…

It isn’t perfect – I don’t get out of bed each day like Pollyanna. There are still really hard days… days I’m confused and not sure where or what I am supposed to do… days I feel like I have been thrown under the bus… the difference is – I have my network I have been building there to support me – send off a quick text and I know the support is there…

You are NOT too far gone for God

I want you to know that if you are reading this… You are NOT too far gone for God… If you are breathing, your heart still beating – you are still loved by God…  The very fact that you are here now reading this is the proof God is waiting for you to turn to Him… He brought you here to read this short blog… Believe in this one simple thing – that you will have your TOMATO day soon… feel free to leave a comment…

Not Always or Every & God Sees

I’m just like everyone – we all want to feel wanted, special. needed. loved. And for people with Borderline Personality Disorder this is very true but the self-hatred and the polar opposite is also true  – My 2 second teaching version of BPD is – I hate you – DON’T LEAVE ME!!

The “I hate you” is a coping method of pushing you away because we know that eventually you wiil so let’s just get it over this now, but we really are desperate for a friend.

BPD is a severe diagnosis – 1 of  everty 10 people diagnosed  will die from suidice

If someone you know or love has been diagnosed please take the time to read up on it. There are many really good YouTube video’s

There are  500 plus ways to be diagnosed so it’s not a one size fits all illness but there are 2 basic categories everyone ends up – rage or quiet. Some information online say 4 – either way it’s serious. My BPD is always there. Ready to jump out. Sometimes I catch it and sometimes I don’t until later.

I am blessed as I have a great resource network that I have built up over the last 3 years. The best one by far is Celebrate Recovery it is a Christian 12 step. I’ve posted the link here. I hadn’t heard of it until I really needed it and when I did I was emotionally, spiritually and literally physically dead.

I was emotionally, spiritually and literally almost physically dead.

But I took ownership of me. Was it easy? NO – absolutely – categorically  NO! 

I took mental health classes thorough my local mental health and I did the homework. I attended CR week after week.Sometimes I sat in my car for 1/2 hour to even open the door. I attended CR when I was allowed out on phys on passes. I did the 12 steps twice and I’m on my third. I attended church – I joined a small group from church. I built my network of support. New friends.

I changed my thinking behaviors – insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. If you want change you need to change the script.

I stopped using words like EVERY and ALWAYS – Every time I open a box of cereal it splits open and falls on the floor? EVERY TIME?? umm…well , you know like… twice
I ALWAYS get scratched by my friends cat? ALWAYS – well – only when I sit on her favorite chair…

I was challenged to think of 3 things to thankful for – right now…. you do it too…

  1. I have access to a computer
  2. I am in a place where I am sheltered so I can actually use a computer, so I’m not in the rain or snow or dessert
  3. I have clothes I am wearing right now

Get the idea? Small things count! Build your list – keep adding to it… maybe you can look out the window and see a bird or a tree or…

I have been dealing with this for just over 3 years now. It’s a SLOW process – It’s a hard and rocky pathway.

BPD people need other BPD people & we need other “normal” people (do they actually exist?)  okay how about other people who are dealing with other issues but no BPD so we can sort of aim for what we want to be….

A lot of people quote Jeremiah 29:11 I like 11 to 14

 Jer 29:11-11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity

Captivity that pretty much describes how I felt 3 years ago… a churning, boiling black pit – my own personal hell on earth trying to drag me down for good, It came close.

I started off this blog talking more about how everyone (in this case every fits) wants to be needed, and I have found that I am needed – but as God needs me – this isn’t a wishy-washy statement. God built me from the zygote on up. I have desires and passions inside of me just waiting to be used – I have talents. God isn’t going to push those aside and tell me to do something I have no desire to do (unless I need to learn more about humbling).

To not use my talent is a waste. I may fumble a bit while learning to utilize it – but at least I am using it.

As for being noticed – yes – I am being noticed. God is watching and I know that’s more than enough.

A Little of This, A Hard “That” & Stallions

God has been confirming where my ministry is… it is to women with mental health issues just like me. And that I will be in the trenches with them… for now at least, the physical healing has not been granted. I still deal with fatigue and down days. I have my network of accountability partners and my sponsor. I have Bible First Aid kit of verses that have given me comfort in the past. I can pray of course – and I have my sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

A couple of weeks ago I  got rattled to my soul. Satan will use anything and everything to fire darts or arrows at us – and he landed a good one. I have been stable with my meds now for just over a year. During that time I had no suicidal thoughts and I was pretty secure in thinking I had victory over them. Not so I found out…. It rattled me so hard that I felt it spiritually, emotionally and physically. I literally felt like a taser gun had hit me and it lasted for many hours. It was humbling and an awakening to not take things for granted. I had friends and family praying for me.

I’ve been working on being more meek and weak so that it will be evident that God deserves the glory and not me. God can work better if I just let Him be in charge. It is by His strength.

But meek is not a wall flower type of person… meek really means strength under control – I recall reading that the analogy of  taking a wild stallion under control – the stallion still has it ability and power but now can be used to it’s full potential.

The church we attend has been growing and is continuing to grow … and I like how the church is doing it… it’s not just bring somebody type of idea – it’s more that as we grow we have needs in our church – everyone is equipped with God given talents – passions – desires – and as a church we are going to figure out what they are for everyone – and then look at how best each person can use their gifts.

I can foresee many stallions in our church…

My eager desire and hope being that I may never feel ashamed, but that now as ever I may do honour to Christ in my own person by fearless courage. Phil. 1:20*

*Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

 

God Never Wastes A Hurt

This past weekend I spent time watching videos by Chonda Pierce  – she is the Queen of Clean and rated as the top funny woman… and she is hilarious… she takes everyday life and adds a comedic twist to it.

She is also an advocate for mental health issues and is very open about her own dark days… on how she too did not want to live anymore and spent time in the hospital… Yes, I put too… I have battled suicidal thoughts off and on for 2 years… at times they are very strong and I have been hospitalized or spent time in a community program going through medication adjustments…

Being a Christian with mental health issues often equates to many people a lack of faith – which is FAR from the truth. I have an illness – a chemical imbalance in my brain. I have MORE faith 2 years later than I did when I first started on this journey and yet suicidal thoughts were rampant during my last hospital stay. I’ll paraphrase something Chonda said – me having a lack of faith that God can heal me, and I know He totally can, is like saying to someone who wears glasses – take them off and drive home! Have faith!! Does that put it in a better perspective?

Having depression – suicidal thoughts – mental health issues is not always a spiritual issue… sometimes it IS and you are wrestling with God and He isn’t giving you rest until you finally make peace with that issue… but sometime there are not any issues you are having with God or your spouse or your children or your family or friends and yet you are still down… that’s depression – you might need to go talk to someone and that might be all you need… and sometimes that still isn’t enough… your brain chemistry is wrong – and you NEED medication… just like a diabetic needs insulin…

Chonda tells people – I am clinically depressed – I have a chemical imbalance in my body and I am highly medicated for it!

Prayer is not always an instant fix. Only God has the fix and it’s on His timeline. Maybe God is using a depressed person to be a light to others – for that person to understand their humanity – God works in mysterious ways…

Every time I have been hospitalized or in the community facility I have made contact with people who have needed to hear that God is still there… That God hasn’t forgotten them – or had turned His back on them… that He is not punishing them…

Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we are covered by a giant “nothing will ever hurt me” umbrella. Look at Peter and Silas – locked in a jail… ministering…

Who can minister to a someone who is battling cancer better – someone who is never sick – or someone who has battled or is battling cancer?

Who can give comfort regarding the loss of a child or the loss of a spouse?

Does this mean the God is punishing us? No – God doesn’t punish – but God will take that hurt and turn it into good… God never wastes a hurt…

My life verse:  What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.

How can you be depressed?!?!?

The other day at group therapy we were discussing on how people seem to think that depression “MUST” be gone the first time you laugh or crack a joke… yes, depressed people can still laugh and joke around… and giggle… and thank God we can – or the results might be horrendous. 

I liken it to this – when people go to a funeral it is a “SAD” event – then usually there is a reception or a wake or a celebration of life – and someone will tell a funny story about the dearly departed and people will laugh or giggle… does that mean that the sadness of the passing of a loved one is over? The mourning is finished? Of course not! 

But when it comes to depression – the opposite seems to be the standard belief… 

Believe it or not – I don’t lie around on the couch everyday (just some days) and I don’t hide in the house (at least not when my depression has lessened)… I don’t spend all day crying or moaning… 

Most days I get up, get showered, take my medications and do what I can each day… 

I can be “just fine” in the morning but more depressed at night… 

I can be driving and singing along with the music and suddenly have suicidal thoughts (aka invasive thoughts)…. like the other day – all was fine… I was waiting to turn left after an 18 wheeler (which was booking it) passed me and voila! Out of no where I’m thinking, yup – I could turn now and… well – you will get the rest… 

Meetings – I have chaired a few meetings since my diagnosis and I have done well (or so I am told)… then afterwards I crash and burn for a couple of days… I have used up a lot of energy in order to be able to chair in prep work – and then in actually chairing the meetings (BTW my caseworker & psychiatrist both support my volunteer work)… is it worth it? YES! It gives me something to focus on and it keeps my ego from slamming down more than it already is… 

As I move more into recovery I am able to do a bit more – but I have to be on guard – watching for those nasty intrusive thoughts.. and stay mindful of the moment… and use anything I can to avoid sliding into the pit… 

I still have a memory like a spider web (after my brain injury it was swiss cheese)… certain words in songs will set me off on the wrong path… I still need my quiet time… 

God and I are on better terms again… when you are so down and hitting bottom it’s really hard to keep that relationship going… the prayers of friends have helped when I have reached out… 

As for anxiety – yup – that still likes to come and play with depression… just not as often… 

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog – I hope I am able to shed a bit of light on what depression and anxiety are like for anyone – but especially for a Christian… 

From Extrovert to Introvert

A few months ago,  say November,  anyone who knows me would have classified me as an extrovert… Since my depression and anxiety have hit I am very much the opposite… 

So what has changed,  other than brain chemistry? From personal insight I would say that I’ve put up a wall partly for personal protection and to keep people away and partly because I don’t
seem to have the same energy (ability,  compassion,  patience… )  to deal with other people…

In some ways I am numb at times…

Other times my internal pain is already overwhelming enough…  And other times I simply don’t care or don’t care to notice… 

Either way,  the paradigm has shifted… 
I’m just wondering if others have noticed anything similar and can provide some personal introspective comments…