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
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.
Grace is instantaneous. When we repent and ask God to forgive us, He doesn't have to mull it over. He doesn't decide if we are worthy, He simply says "Forgiven."
We hurt people. People hurt us. Christ gave us the perfect example of how to love and especially, how to forgive.
It's not enough to just "love" like Jesus. That Love includes forgiving like Jesus to0.
From my heart to yours, Mia
Today in my reading of Acts chapter 7, I was overwhelmed with the certainty that there is always uncertainty, but heaven for those who believe is guaranteed.
Stephen, a disciple of Jesus, filled with the Spirit, who was full of grace, power and wisdom listened the Lord and obeyed the call to preach the gospel. It says in Acts 6:10 that many people who argued against the Gospel of Jesus Christ could not handle his wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke from. So what do they do, they make up lies about him.
Stephen did not stop, He was obedient to God's call. He spoke before the High Priest and gave a full account and testimony that Jesus was and is who He said He was. This infuriated the people. So they took him out to be stoned. At this, Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit looks up to the heavens and he sees the glory of God. He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He saw it with his own eyes and he testified to it.
Still, the people did not want t0 hear it. In their stubbornness, they covered their ears and attacked him. They stoned him. They killed him. As Stephen took his last breath, his heart was for the redemption of God's people saying "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." At that, he fell asleep.
Stephen's desire was that all would come to a saving relationship through Jesus Christ so that even in the uncertainty, they would know the certainty of who Jesus Christ was and be guaranteed eternal life in heaven. One might say, Stephen's obedience didn't end well for him that day. His obedience did not make life go more smoothly. His obedience did not make the pain and suffering end. His obedience cost him his life. But he gave it freely so that others might know Jesus.
Friends, my husband and I are in a season of not knowing what the future holds. But, we are also in a season of hearing God very clearly directing us. Hand in hand we are walking it out together. We have peace, we have joy, but we also have a ton of unanswered questions and a boat load of uncertainty. Yet, we know that God is calling.
So I find comfort. Yes, comfort from this story. I know that as we follow in obedience there are no guarantees that everything is going to fall into place quickly or easily. We may loose "stuff." We may even loose some relationships, opportunities and even the certainty and comfort we have become so accustomed to.
But, this I know, of this I am certain, difficult times may be ahead. Like the example of Stephen, even when it's all crashing down, I want to be able to lift my eyes to the heavens and know that my Savior is standing at the right hand of God. I can trust that even in the certainty of our uncertainty, he guarantees us life eternal with Him.
Trust and obey. Trust and obey. Trust and obey.
There is still a voice in my head that has to speak to the little girl inside of me and remind her that she is not an accident, that she is not abandoned, that she is seen and loved.
There are times when those emotions get stirred up more than others and this past weekend was one of them. Conversations that I have never had before with people about my past... good conversations, but still difficult to understand, brought back questions that I thought I had resolved and new questions that I never imagined to ask.
As I sat with these new thoughts, I found the tears rolling down my face were really the only means to communicate my heart to the Lord. They shared with God what my words would have only fumbled through. And He heard me. He comforted me.
The pain and the sting isn't quite gone, but that's okay because through it I am able to hear a voice that is louder than my doubts. I can still hear the voice of God.
I have been struggling the last few weeks in leading a particular worship song at my events. I even told my husband "I am trashing this song because I just can't seem to get it right."
But, through this momentary trial, I know that now, as I sing this song, I will be singing it from a place that I would not have sung it before. I will be singing and leading from a place that has struggled, is struggling, yet still stands confidently in what God says about me.
"I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who He says I am"
I'm taking THAT thought captive and standing on the promises of God. "He is for me, not against me."
My friends, He is for YOU too. If you, like me, at times feel forgotten, abandoned and alone, can I just encourage you to cry out to God... scream out to Him... ask Him to remind you, by any means necessary, that you are loved.
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.