I figured it was time to update, though I don’t have a well thought out devotional post ready.
Things have still been really challenging with the bipolar. For a while there, I was doing pretty well, but the mania is starting to creep up again. It’s a really lousy feeling. I told my mom that sometimes I feel like there is a monster inside me. I hate the way my thoughts work, how angry I can get over the smallest thing. Even when it doesn’t erupt into the external world (and it doesn’t most of the time) I hate having those thoughts inside me. They feel so foreign, so alien. The truth is they are. They aren’t me. They are this mental illness – something I can’t control. By God’s grace, most of the time I can keep them from erupting out into the world around me, but I still find it exhausting and frustrating to have them in me at all.
Speaking of frustrating…one of the things about all this that is really irritating is that, like a small child, when I get frustrated, I cry. The mania makes a lot of things frustrating and it doesn’t take much to get to the point of tears. I can’t stand that feeling. It’s so embarrassing, so childish. And I can’t stop it.
And all this is why bipolar is a great cure for legalism. I have struggled with legalism for my whole Christian walk. I think that a lot of new believers start out fairly legalistic. It’s like we swing all the way from the license of our lives before we met Christ to the opposite end of the pendulum. Theoretically, we eventually come into the balance of grace and liberty. I’m a slow learner and spent the first 4-6 years of my Christian walk trapped in legalism. But bipolar forced me into a place where I had to accept God’s grace.
When you are flat on your back with depression, wanting to kill yourself, your little list of what a “real” Christian does, or what you have to do for God to be happy with you goes right out the window, because you just can’t do it. You can’t read your Bible every day and pray for all those people and serve in ministry and and and.
So then you are left with a choice and a question. The choice answers the question. The choice is: either I am no longer a Christian/not a good Christian or even in this, I can rest in God’s grace. How you choose determines the answer to the question: is God angry with me? If you think that you are a bad Christian, then of course you will also think that God is angry with you. You have defined your relationship with God by your performance, so when you can’t perform, your relationship with God is strained. And if your relationship with God is strained then, duh, it’s got to be your fault.
Praise God, there is another answer to the question! If you are resting in God’s grace, then God isn’t angry with you, and that changes everything. If God isn’t angry with me that means my relationship with Him is secure, no matter what. I’ve decided (by His grace, of course) that my relationship with Him is not based on how I perform, but is based on who He is and what He’s already done.
I hope that it’s clear that the second answer is the right one; it is the one that the Bible provides for us. It is the only one that leads to real freedom as we walk with Christ.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
I can honestly say that the freedom I now walk in with Jesus is worth all that I have been through. It’s hard to think about going through more, about how long this will be difficult. I want so badly to get to the right place with my medication; the place where I can discern between what is me and what is illness; the place where I how I respond to the events around me is not so handicapped by this illness. But I know that this freedom is priceless. I’ve always wanted to get to this place, and I know that I still have farther to go into His freedom. Isn’t it worth it, no matter the cost? Didn’t Jesus walk the road of suffering for glory before us? Why should it be different for us? From Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest:
Are you going on with Jesus? The way goes through Gethsemane, through the city gate, and on “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13). The way is lonely and goes on until there is no longer even a trace of a footprint to follow— but only the voice saying, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19)
looks like this got more devotional than I expected. 🙂