Suffering Well

When I’m deep in depression articles like this don’t help and can even hurt. But once I’m in a better place I find the same article gives me great inspiration and consolation. This one helped me find meaning in my past suffering and goes a long way towards helping me trust God in a more steady way. Hope that someone out there can find the same assurance.

www.desiringgod.org/articles/five-ways-affliction-helps

Finally – “Zero”

In His mercies and love, God has given me the “zero” plateau I have  so fervently desired.  (I’ve learned to scale my depressions and manias with 0 meaning no manic or depressive symptoms, and 10 being either the worst manic break or depressive bottom I’ve ever experienced.  I seldom find myself at Zero, and, over the past two and a half years, have swung between a 10 in mania, and a 10 in depression.  It’s been a rough ride.)  This time I asked for freedom from both depression and mania for the purposes of seeing God the Father reflected  in the face of the Son, through the grace and mercies of the Holy Spirit.  No “projects” or “ideas” this time.  No running around doing things that I finally have the energy and motivation to do (as is my habit when I’m feeling good).  All I wanted, and all I’ve focused upon this time is seeing God apart from the cognitive and emotional distortions that are the hallmark of a bipolar disorder.  

My amazing Christian therapist and my excellent psychiatrist both concur along with me that I entered this coveted Zero state around the 18th of January, that is, a day or two shy of two weeks ago.  In that time I’ve been able to enjoy reading scripture.  I’ve also been able to hear the “still small voice” more clearly than before, and with greater discernment between God’s still voice and my own voice.  I used to be pretty good at that discernment, but for these last two and a half years I could hardly identify my own voice from the cacophony of voices in my head.  Those blasted voices are absent now.  My mind is a quiet, safe place, and I can hear the murmurings of my Great Shepherd.  (Thanks be to God!!)

However, I’ve lagged behind in my ability to sense and feel Christ’s love.  I also haven’t been as aware of God’s abiding Presence as I had hoped.  But thanks be to God!  As I write now, and am finally realizing it’s not even been a full two weeks of stability, I am not as bothered or down on myself for these “deficiencies” in my experience of God.  Hearing the Voice again with some degree of accuracy is a gift of great magnitude.  Instead of keeping what I “lack” in my mirror, I am going to enjoy and go deeper into the hearing, and relax and let myself enjoy reading scripture without having to write down every thought the Word evokes.  

Every day, and every hour in Zero is precious to me.  I pray I will steward the time well.  

What is Your Defining Moment?

God is Love.  You know that.  I know that.  We know it as surely as we know Jesus died, was buried, rose again, and is now alive, seated at the right hand of the Father.  We know it because the Bible says so, from cover to cover.  Yes, we “know” God is love – but to what degree do we live as if that fact were the dominant reality of our lives?  When we define ourselves to ourselves, or to others, how often do we define ourselves as the object of GOD’s love?  

I recently discovered, (that is the Holy Spirit showed me one night), that my own  personal identity was completely wrapped up in just one single, defining moment in my life.  Something pretty bad had happened to me once, and Satan twisted it around by planting lies into the open wound, until that one rejection completely defined who I was and how I thought about myself, and basically how I acted and made choices throughout most of my life.  

That lie was buried so deep, and so often re-enacted throughout my life, that no matter what I was defined by that lie.  Not even 40 years of being a Christian brought it to the surface.  THAT is what a “strong hold” is,  and that is how dangerous, deadly, and destructive the hooks of Satan can be in our lives.  Even as believers!  For, here I was, year after year, struggling to believe God loved me and accepted me unconditionally in Christ, all the while “knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt” that I was – and always would be – the “rejected one.”  Put differently, I was a rejected person struggling to believe she’d been redeemed.  And as much as that redemption healed and helped me, it still took 40 years to uncover the lie that Satan had gotten into me in no more than a month.   

That’s how potent Satan’s lies can be.  Only the power of the Holy Spirit can reveal  those kinds of lies; only the power of the written word of God can destroy them; and only the power of the Son’s shed blood can heal the wounds and reverse the life course those lies set you on.  I’m so glad to be free!  I’m so glad I know the Word of God well enough to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am truly  DEFINED by the moment the Father applied the Son’s blood to me – THAT is my “defining moment,” not the trauma and rejection of my first days of life.  I am not only accepted and acceptable to God, I am also forgiven and freed from the damage and consequences of all the times that I have been the “rejector.”  I am redeemed! Thanks Be to God!

Accepting My Limits

Today I am rejoicing in the LORD because I am in a steady state where the distortions of mania and depression are both absent.  Euthymia (the clinical term) is a wonderful state for me.  Over the 35 years that I’ve been formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I’ve come to cherish these level times so much that I am no longer thrilled with the pleasantries of low mania.  Stability is better than any manic state – and of course far superior to depression.  I learned this from experience.  

I have also learned from experience that bipolar imposes limits on me.  Accepting that in the present, that is, “today,” I have limits due to the disorder is the only basis upon which I can “accept” the diagnosis in the manner that most therapists and psychiatrists want me to.  TODAY I have limits due to having bipolar disorder.  However God in His Sovereignty can elect to lift the disorder from me at any time; He can heal me in many ways, on many levels that reduce the burden of the diagnosis.  Therefore, while I accept that I have a physical disorder that imposes limits upon me now, the future is yet to be determined.  Even now, at age 65, 35 years after the diagnosis, I maintain the confidence that God can relieve me of the bipolar burden at any time and in any way that He chooses.  Bipolar imposes very real and often painful limits upon ME, but not upon my God. 

Today, however, I’m freer than I have been in a long time.  (I’ve cycled through full blown manic breaks and intensely deep depressions with no respite of stability since June 2019).  The only fetter upon me from manic-depression illness is a need for deep emotional and physical and mental rest.  If I get too active or take on too many obligations I can sometimes get physically depleted, which sometimes precipitates depressive episodes.  Therefore it is only wise to rest.  “Fortunately” the horrors of Covid also impose limits upon my activities that, today, dovetail with what I want and need.  Tomorrow I may wish to use some of my stability in more active ways than Covid will allow.  But today, I am in harmony with my inner and outer life, and even with the pestilence.

I’ve invested some of today’s freedom writing this blog post to you.  You may consider it my invitation to share our experiences.  So long as I am stable I almost always have time and energy to respond to comments.  Would love to read whatever thoughts or feelings my writing today brings up for you!  

May the Lord bless you with inner harmony and deep peace. May you know freedom from illness, and freedom to choose well and wisely – Sande

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