So my 44th birthday is in a little less than four weeks and on account of me being me, this date is always met with much trepidation. Not much has changed from 43 to 44. In the good sense, I’ve moved into an apartment I love, I continue at a job that makes me happy, my son is healthy, I have wonderful friends and family…I can go on–with the external.
Spiritually, this has been a trying year. I’ve heard it said that your walk with God is tested hardest in prosperity than it is in suffering.
How true that it is.
The gifts often eclipse The Giver, whereas suffering is more apt to keep your gaze fixed on the unseen and aware of how quickly all that is seen will pass.
I’ve been reduced to this one prayer this year: I’m willing that you make me willing, Lord.
Almost one year ago, some wise words were spoken to me. These words were beyond insightful; they were penetrating. Of my one counseling session with a Pastor-Friend, I wrote down the three main points–his keen assessments of my spiritual condition–that have echoed from last year to this year thus far. When I re-read them just now, I immediately knew that I had to write and share them.
There is someone that needs to hear this counsel, even if by second-hand, because the residual effects of mental health / faith-struggles are staggering amongst the body of Christ, even when they go unspoken.
April 2017, I sat across from my Pastor-Friend and poured out my heart. I shared my story, which was peppered with doubts, questions and lowered expectations brought on by a life mostly lived with tumultuous mental health issues.
Here was the first shot of Truth Serum as applied by this Pastor-Friend:
1) “Some Christians struggle with PTTD (Post Traumatic Trust Disorder). They find it difficult to trust God after a blow to their faith.”
Can I just say, Amen?! He was right. Repeated blows had weakened my faith altogether. Can I go out on a limb and trust you, Lord? Will you catch me if I fall? I recall falling…hard..and it seemed you weren’t there. How do I recover from that? That is now in my faith’s frame of reference, so now what?
Diagnosis: PTTD (Post Traumatic Trust Disorder)
Cure: “Lord, I do believe; Help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
2) “Mature Christians can struggle with lowered expectations (from God) due the consistent unfavorable outcome of continuous trials. Ironically, this makes it more difficult for seasoned Christians to be as resilient as newer Christians.”
Lowered expectations and resilience together in the same thought. Lowered expectations are wounded hope. There is no resilience–no “getting back up” without hope. A serious issue had been identified. But, yes, real resilience is hoping again and again and again…
Diagnosis: Countless troubles and a sprained hope…
Cure: “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us..” 2 Corinthians 1:10
3) “Have you ever forgiven someone who hurt you? You need to forgive God. There is a lie underneath all the intellectual, doctrinal truth you know about God that is keeping you from actually experiencing His love. It masquerades itself as truth and it speaks to you day in and day out. This needs to be exposed. And you need to be real with God. Tell Him how you feel. Start at the train station in 1995 when your illness first struck. Tell him how you felt He turned out to be a different God than you imagined and you feel let down. Open up, receive His truth, HIs love, and let it go.”
It is not so foreign to forgive God. He didn’t cause my troubles. I know that now. But to forgive Him was to break a wall of pain between us constructed entirely by me and made up of lies and misconceptions. The words needed to be said. The feelings needed to be released for my perception of Him to be purified and my heart to become fully receptive to His love. It’s a process and one that I welcome.
Diagnosis: A hardened heart..
What I have experienced will always compete with what I know. I have experienced seasons of darkness that threatened to swallow up the Light in my life. You probably have, too.
But the antidote–the Truth Serum—is in what I know, what is true and that is this…
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome It.” John 1:4