MENTAL ILLNESS, ADDICTION, AND MY CHRISTIAN LIFE

Before I became a Christian at age 22, I had it easy. I had never truly experienced pain and suffering. After a fun and fulfilling childhood and then a parent-funded Bachelor degree, I was ready to embark on the journey called Adult Life.

Life wasn’t perfect, but BOY, had I been sheltered! I just had no way to fathom what the next three decades would bring my way. A life where sadness, neglect, emotional abuse, mental illness, drug addiction and suicide attempts would enter my life’s path. Basically . . .

“Your Worst Life Now” could become my anti-Joel-Osteen bestselling book.

Do I regret anything that has transpired? Do I wish I had taken a different path? Do I raise my fists in anger to God?

No Way!

Dang, I’m GLAD for the emotional muscles that God has built in me. I am thankful for the tribulations . . . really, in all honesty.

It’s not fun to go through difficult times, but it sure is worthwhile. And the reason is because Jesus has been there with me through it all. I had nowhere else to turn, so He literally became my ROCK.

Interviewing for a teaching position at a large homeschool co-op in 2014, I was extremely nervous that I did not possess the desired credentials. But this was a Christian ministry with their head on straight; the first question the panel asked me was, “What does Jesus mean to you?”

Are you serious!?

I immediately started bawling my head off!

Now THAT was a credential I possessed in excess. I began to tell the ladies how Jesus meant EVERYTHING to me; how He had held my hand through many difficult trials, and how I had learned to depend on and rely on Him alone.

Teaching at that co-op for the next five years, was fruitful and successful . . . in a spiritual way. To this day, I still get together with some of my ex-students, high school age, for coffee, chatting and a Bible Study (heavy on the chatting!)

My heart rejoices in the Lord! I am writing this post to testify that He gives us JOY in the midst of pain. It’s a heart-filling, overwhelming sense of peace, safety, security, love and acceptance. NOTHING is better than that.

Yes, my life is still difficult. We had another huge, terrible family emergency just four days ago; an event that could have been devastating . . . but that God had His hand in nonetheless: He works all things together for good.

Christian brother or sister, hang in there! Cry if you need to! Pray and yell and fret all you want to our Father God, He can handle it. Pour out your heart to Him at all times. Cast your cares upon Him.

For He cares for you. ❤️

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The New Life

woman walking on pathway while strolling luggage
Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

 

I was pretty shocked when I began to hear the Lord speak quietly to my heart that it was time to quit church.  “Not so, Lord,” I said, in the spirit of Peter from Acts 10 and 11.

 

But I finally relented.  . . . Although it seemed as though I was having an inner temper tantrum in my “obedience” to my Lord and Master, Jesus the Messiah.  (Good job, Lisa.)

 

The following Sunday, it was a huge surprise to me when Jesus made Himself known.  His presence was manifested to me. “Oh!!  Jesus!”  I said.  “Well, hello there!  It’s been so long!”  And His glorious joy was poured out to my spirit.

 

Of course He had never left me nor forsaken me.  But I had forsaken Him.  For 15 years.  Why?  Well, heck, I was trying to be a “good Christian.”

 

Before quitting church, the Lord had been stripping me of a belief system that was based on rules and regulations.  I was all about, “you have to do this, and you shouldn’t do that.”

 

He led me to quit church in 2004, and by 2006 the only ‘law’ I was still holding on to tenaciously was that we  “have to ask forgiveness for our sins.”  Finally, the Lord gently removed that one last requirement through learning the proper meaning of 1 John 1:8&9.  Simply put, John was speaking to unbelievers (most likely the Gnostics in his audience) in verses 8 and 9 of chapter 1.

 

So, I came to understand that I did not have to ask for forgiveness; that His death on the cross had already accomplished my forgiveness, and I simply had to believe that “it is finished.”

 

Realizing that I no longer had a Christian To-Do List, there was simply nothing left for me to do.  Except to love Him back.  To trust Him.  To rely on Him.  To depend on Him.  I began to live my life in a totally different way.  I trusted Him to lead me and guide me.

 

The way I parented our three kids became completely different; the way I viewed God began to line up with reality; I began to give my husband grace, and stopped trying to change him into a repentant and obedient ‘godly man.’  The TREE OF LIFE became my daily food; I had left behind the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  I now live every day with Jesus, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.  It’s a glorious life.

 

And if you’re wondering, no, I don’t go to “church.”  Well, I never went back to “formalized” church.  Yet to this day, I do gather together with believers on a regular basis, and there is more true fellowship in my life now than there ever was in the days when I went to church four times a week

Experiencing Joy in the Midst of Suffering

Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. (Romans 12:12, NET Bible)

One of my favorite things about my relationship with the Lord is the JOY that He gives me; the joy that I feel coursing through my veins; joy that is palpable and evident and real.  It is His joy and I am so thankful to Him that He shares it with me.

I appreciate it so much more when it is felt during times of difficulty, pain and suffering.  At times like this, His joy makes me want to rejoice! 😄

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4, NASB)

I am reminded of Corrie Ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, in which Corrie eloquently describes the dual-existence of joy in the midst of suffering.  In this true story that is a “must-read,” you’ll learn that Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their elderly father were all arrested and sent to prison for hiding a group of Jewish people in their home during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Soon after their father’s untimely death, Corrie and Betsie spent time in the notorious women’s concentration camp, Ravensbruck.

“Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.”  ― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom

Such a marvelous book! ❤️😁

The Ten Boom family could see the true light in the midst of this dark world.  And as their brothers and sisters, as Jesus followers, as believers in the gospel of grace, we also know the truth!

The truth has set us free, and yet we are stuck on this earth temporarily.  So, while we are here, let’s be patient; let’s hang in there; let’s not give up.

We all have pain, we all have suffering, and we all have difficulties to varying degrees.  But we also have hope.  Not only the hope of our future life in heaven, but the hope that is alive for us today:  the kingdom of God in our very hearts.  A hope with promise; that when we have persevered through tribulations, God will use the pain we have endured to reveal more of His love to us!

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

(Romans 5:3-5 NASB)

November 29, 2018  10:16 AM