Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pain; It’s Personal

I know the experts say to make each post about your readers.  They say not to get personal.

But here’s the rub.  Mental illness is personal.  To me.  To you.  To all who suffer with it in all its delightful forms.  To all who love or live with someone with it.

Today is personal.  I suffered.  Did you?  Maybe my personals today will resonate with someone.  You are not alone.

Times are tough for me.  Stress is high.  The people I live with don’t get it.  To them, I’m just being lazy and irresponsible.

My kin doesn’t get it.  I was irresponsible 15 years ago, and didn’t pay back what I had used.

She’s right.  I was irresponsible.  My behavior, then as now, was not socially or financially acceptable.  But when cancer hurts and there’s no painkiller, you scream and write a lot and spend what you have on release, not duty.  You get desperate.  You don’t connect now with later.  ‘Wait’ is not a space of time; it’s just a ‘weight’ on the soul.

I don’t think she gets her own child either.  Genetics played a nasty joke on her progeny.

Now I need a job.  I look some, but focus is almost impossible and distractions abound.  The emotions partly born of insecurity, fear, worry, and loneliness wring out the last dregs from my cup of possibilities.  The first dregs got drained by my own duplicitous brain.

I pour forth detailed plans in monster waves.  They crash and foam and never reach shore.  I can’t carry them out.  Dust bunnies get in my way.  Dishes and grass clippings and expectations attack. Desire is legion, but priority is AWOL. I’m trapped; no car, no way to run, so few tools to help.

Insurance was nice.  The county sucks.  It’s not their fault.  There’s just too many of us.  Why?  What did people used to do back when?

Today’s last straw was just a pin-sized twig, but it broke this ass’s back.  It’s always that way.  Little stuff is seen through a magnifying glass every time.

I truly didn’t want to live.  I planned on it to help get me through, but it refused and now I’m limited to the struggle.  I need another shot of safety; just for a week.  I can’t stand the limits!  Not again!

I scream, I cry, I question and storm and beg for release.  I hate this pain that drills deep. I can’t filter out the pain of the past or the pain of the future or the pain of entwined others either.  It won’t let me go.  It’s always peaking around corners and saying ‘boo’ just when I’ve turned the corner.  I’m always ready now to jump.

Oh if I could snuggle!  Arms with skin on help so much if they are gentle.  The arms of faith have disappeared today.  I’m so guilty because I’ve seen them so big before.

So where is the glass half-full?  I dropped it and it broke, long ago.  The shards got stuck in my foot.  The liquid evaporated.  I should try I guess to levitate with my mental magic prowess the cup there in the cupboard over to the faucet pouring with water.  But today, magic doesn’t exist.  Does it ever?

There’s one boon today.  Satan was winning.  He loves to tell me that God won’t provide like He said.  After all, look at the widows in India.  They beg for their food.  Their husbands have died and their sons disown them.  Some starve and their bodies are thrown in the river.  Why not them, God?  Paul went hungry, cold, and naked.  Why him?  He was yours!

Maybe me.  But God said.  If the walls fall inward, thunder rolls, the mountains move into the sea, and fire rains down, God still said.  I don’t want to live this.  But God said.  I don’t know how.  But God said.  I don’t feel able, but God said.  I don’t get it, but God said.  I’m blind and deaf and dumb and burning, but God said.  So somewhere so deep even I can’t know it, I believe.


Mental Fight

Rarely is my mind ordered and my emotions even.  Most days the battles rage.  Priorities fight indecision.  The winner fights with distraction, and time outflanks them all, throwing in the flaming arrows of interruption, irritability, and anguish.  The work I’m trying to do just doesn’t get done with any speed or efficiency.

“Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank my God through Jesus Christ our Lord…” Romans 7:24-25a

Ephesians 6:12 says our struggle is not against “flesh and blood”.  It is against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

The work I want do each day I do for my family, my friends, and ultimately for God.  Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,…”

Satan hates this way of thinking.  He plays on our weaknesses to pull us away from anything that magnifies God.  The weaknesses that pull me away from the work of living and earning and writing are mostly above the neck.

The things that try with all their might to depress, confuse, paralyze, destabilize, and distract my attention from my work and my passions are purely mental.  The labels for mental attention thieves can be multiple; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Anxiety, Depression, Schizophrenia, Autism, and many more.  Maybe your distractions are physical; chronic pain, disease, physical disability.  Maybe they are both.  Definitely they are real, biological, disorders of mind and body.

Definitely sin pulls us away from God.  Sin is not the urges, the thoughts, the fears, the visions, the pains, the emotions we feel.  Sin is what we do with these things if what we do is not Godly.  And God says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Christ died to remove the punishment of our sin from us, taking it on Himself.  Satan hates this too.

With mental disorders that are expressed behaviorally, what is the point at which our behavior becomes voluntary and our sinful nature our own choice?  I don’t know.

But this I do know.  This excerpt from Elizabeth’s Ramblings on August 18 spoke to me about our mental and heart fight with all that pulls us away from God.

I woke up this morning with the chorus of this song/hymn singing in my head…

Bring me my bow of burning gold: Bring me my arrows of desire: Bring me my spear: O clouds, unfold! Bring me my chariot of fire! (Elijah) I will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand…

And I respond, “I will not back away Lord. Equip me, and help me stand.” 

What about you? Are you facing a fight today? Is there some dark, dread-filled cloud hanging over you? Fear not! Ask God to equip you with His Armor and take a stand knowing the battle is His and not yours. He will make a way and bring you through the dark and out into His glorious Light. All you need do is stand. 

The Armor of God (from Ephesians 6:10 – 20)

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

The words that first caught my attention were “mental fight”.  That’s what I do all day most days.  Fight the battle with thoughts, with anxious or sad or downright excruciating emotions, with fears, with feeling alone in my struggle, with many tears, with indecision and confusion and un-productivity.

I don’t get how these verses work in practicality, but I know they’re true.  It is true that:

  1. We can stand strong against any kind of pain, mental or physical, with God’s power in us
  2. We can thwart the devil’s schemes, those principalities and powers and spiritual forces in the heavenly realms; by using the armor God gives us.
  3. This armor enables us to stand our ground against all that is against God, whether inside of us (in our minds and hearts) or outside of us.
  4. This armor requires that we do everything we can, to the best of our ability, to use it.  I believe this ‘everything we can’ includes using the resources God has put on this earth to help our infirmities.  Doctors, medications, therapies of all kinds, good nutrition, exercise.
  5. The storage house of this armor is in the Word of God; His written word, the bible, and His ‘Word made flesh”, or Jesus Christ.
  6. Stored in this house is truth, righteousness, the good news of peace in Christ Jesus, faith in God, salvation through Christ’s blood, the Holy Spirit, which is also the “word of God”, and prayer in the Spirit.

Indulge me.  Let me repeat what Elizabeth wrote:

And I respond, “I will not back away Lord. Equip me, and help me stand.” 

What about you? Are you facing a fight today? Is there some dark, dread-filled cloud hanging over you? Fear not! Ask God to equip you with His Armor and take a stand knowing the battle is His and not yours. He will make a way and bring you through the dark and out into His glorious Light. All you need do is stand. 

I don’t know how this works.  I don’t know why or how some people have diseases and troubles they live with, sometimes for life.  It’s a world fallen from God’s ideal, and full of the consequences of sin.  The creature groans.  But God says we can stand, and that’s enough for me.

I just have to put on God’s armor and watch it fight the battles for me.

Please let me know what you think.  How do you stand?