As I write this, I’ve got a lot on my plate.
A husband facing a health crisis.
A book project I can’t seem to dream into existence.
I don’t know how it is for you, but around here life is a delicate balancing act between trusting God and throwing something really big and heavy through the TV. That’s about as encouraging as I can be today.
What worries me, even more than the problems I face, is the sense that I am always this close to going through a bipolar cycle. It won’t be the health crisis, the financial struggles, or the professional frustration that gets me. It will be the combination of all of them combined. I’m sure you’ve felt like life was piling up and you’re one more memo from your boss or one more car problem away from breaking. Everyone, whether healthy or mentally ill, knows what that’s like. It’s just that it’s more catastrophic for some of us than others.
Any type of life change, no matter how big or how small, can trigger an episode of bipolar disorder, depression, and other mental health issues. For some people, all it takes is an argument or the change in seasons.
All my life, my mother told me that God would never give me more than I could handle. Now I know that’s not true. Relevant Magazine just published an article on this very topic. In the piece, author Michael Hidalgo points out that not only did God notpromise to give us more than we can bear, there are plenty of examples of overwhelmed souls in the Bible – Jesus included.
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). Jesus told His father, “This is too much for me!” We see this kind of thing in the Psalms, too. The Psalmists ball their fists in rage, and shout at God, “Why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22) In their sadness they say, “darkness is my closest friend” (Psalm 88).
So I go into this period of my life not expecting God to lift me up and over the pain. Even the best psychiatric medication in the world can’t do that. I can only expect that God will be present as I wade through the poop of life, and that I won’t fall any further than He can catch me. I used to believe this meant that people like you and I were just destined to suffer mercilessly, and that maybe God just had it out for some of us. I’m not so sure about this anymore. Who appreciates health more than the sick? Who appreciates rest more than the worn and weary? Gold isn’t gold until it goes through the fire.
Isn’t it interesting how shocked and broken we are when we get a swift kick in the pants from reality? Trouble just blows our minds even though we know we can’t avoid it forever. Death shakes us to the core even though we know nobody gets out of life alive.
We just have to reset our expectations. Don’t expect the worst – life isn’t worth living without hope! We have to start expecting that the inevitable will come, but that God will point the way and be there, and we will somehow come out refined, even if it’s subtle and not immediately physically visible. We have to take measures to prevent a crash, while remembering that we are sick.
We can’t always turn away the storm, but He’ll ride out the storm with us. The Great Healer, the Creator of these brains of ours… sees the rain even before the first drop lands on our hearts.