Mental Illness Looks Like Me
Yesterday, my friend posted a picture of well know people who battled mental illness/depression/suicide to show what the face of mental illness looks like. They were happy and they smiled. In my comments I added “and it looks like this... it was a picture of me, smiling.
I have never hid the fact that I suffer from depression or that I have been diagnosed bi-polar. I have struggled and although God has given me amazing skills to cope and the medication when I needed it to help me out of the darkness, I still have days that are dark. In light of that, I share these thoughts.
I went to a memorial service today at a large church for my dear friend’s son. There were about 1500 in the main sanctuary. Every seat was filled and there were 3 overflow rooms, filled with people.
We worshipped together, we prayed together, we sang together. The Pastor preached and the worship team led actual people, not just a camera. The gospel was presented and lives were changed even through the sadness of the day. The Kingdom of heaven was expanded.
This was my first time in church since the world went on lock-down.
In all honesty, what I realized through the tears of mourning and celebrating this young man's life, this loss which brought so many together is this: I was getting comfortable not going to church. I started to not even really care if we didn’t meet on Sundays. I mean, I’m in the Bible EVERY day on my own. I spend time in prayer on my own. I commune with God. I worship, I sing, I dance on my own. I listen to God and hear His voice.
But, today as I stood among 1500+ people on that campus hugging, being near and mourning together, I was reminded that I, that WE, need to be back in church. We need to open the doors wide open.
There is too much going on in the world for us to all stay away from each other any longer. Today, my son, Pedro, was attacked because of this racial anger and outrage going on around the nation. It’s spilling over from the public riots and getting closer to home. People are angry, feeling unheard, alone and without accountability.
So as I think about my son and what he’s going through and the fact that tomorrow, Sunday, he can’t be with his church family after this traumatic experience, it makes me see the need more and more that people need to be with people. We need to open the doors.
I think about last week when my sister from Chicago stayed on the phone with me as I cried uncontrollably for 20+ minutes as I was once again suicidal, deep in the darkness of depression. I was suicidal and alone.
I made it out. But how many people who have less support and how many people that don’t have a husband that will pray over her, a sister who will battle the spiritual realm on her behalf, how many of those battling mental and emotional issues don’t make it out and end up ending their life. I am alive. But others are not gonna be as fortunate. We need to open the doors to a space where we can all be together. I don’t care if it’s a church or a field or by the side of the sea, let's just open the doors like they did today. Because today, heaven received new believers because a church dared to open the doors.
I truly believe that not only will heaven’s numbers increase, but I truly believe that lives will be saved. #FellowshipOfBelievers #MentaILLNESSLooksLikeMe #Depression #Suicide
Seen, Loved and Forgiven
One of my biggest struggles is allowing people to really see me. True confession is one way people see us and are able to remind us that nothing can separate us from the Love of God.
The very short blog I posted before this one dealt with forgiveness. Forgiveness is instantaneous. That blog was spurred on because someone shared something with me and my only course of action was to forgive, immediately.
Fast forward to a week or so later. I hurt someone. My sinful nature got the best of me. It happened so quickly, I barley knew what transpired. What scared me most was how natural it was. But there I was, shocked at myself, mad at myself, embarrassed and most of all I felt ashamed.
My first thought was to just bury it. I'm good at that. I bury my emotions and feelings all the time (it always backfires in the end, but for a time, it seems to work) But as I took my next step, I was flooded with the pain of my sin.
So I confessed. With tears and shame, I confessed. For me the scariest part of confession is that person sees you, they see the ugly parts of you. Is that why it's called em-bare-assed? I don't know, but that's how I felt, naked and expossed.
This confession didn't really make me FEEL better and it didn't really seem "good for my soul" at that moment. It just made my sin (big or little) feel very real, very wrong, and completely opposite of what the Lord wanted for me.
But I confessed and was instantly forgiven. Honestly, I didn't want to be forgiven. It hurt t0o much. I wanted to be punished, chastised... even writing this and it's been over a week, I am in tears and my emotions are raw.
I wanted to be told how horrible I am. I wanted to follow the example of Martin Luther and receive my self inflicted lashes. I was so embarrassed. I still am when I think about it.
But at that moment of confession, my dear husband who has seen me at my worst, yet still sees me for who I really am, a forgiven child of God, said these words "God forgives you." And I said to him "But how? How can He forgive me for this?"
My husband shared the Gospel with me, the Gospel I know and Gospel I share with others. And in that moment God reveled this to me. "Child, even if you don't feel forgiven, it doesn't change the fact that you are."
So I had to... and STILL have to rest in the fact that my shame, as heavy as it was, drew me to confess. Its only job was to bring me to repentance. I wasn't called to remain in the shame. My feelings can not change the truth and for that I am thankful.
A collection of writings from a life based on the truth that about midnight anything can happen.
As an imperfect servant of the Lord, I often feel I am fumbling my way through life, looking upward for guidance and outward to love. So, I write about it, to break up the noise in my head.