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Posts Tagged ‘ministry’

As some of you already know, I am in the process of writing a book about mental illness and the Church.  This book will focus on educating the Church as to what mental illness is and isn’t, and highlight what they’ve been doing right, as well as what they’ve been doing wrong.  It will also serve as a “guide” to ministering to the sick.

If you have a story – either good or bad – regarding your own experiences with mental illness and church/Christians, I want to hear from you.  I am currently doing interviews and would love to hear what you have to say.

You can contact me at julie.fidlerATlive.com  (Remove the “AT” and replace it with “@”.)

Looking forward to hearing from you!

-Julie

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In my first post, I mentioned that I was going to be talking about mental health/illness in this blog.  What I didn’t mention was why.  Well, I’m working on a book project about exactly that.  Let me explain a little further…

Longtime readers of my old blog, Fidler On The Roof, know that I have Bipolar Disorder, anxiety, and I’m not afraid to talk about it.  It’s a part of who I am, and I treat it as such.  I discuss it the same way I discuss having a head cold.  But now I’m going to talk about mental illness, including my own, in a much broader spectrum, and I’m doing so out of frustration, sadness, and mostly a desire to educate.

When you’re open about your own mental illness, you encounter a wide variety of reactions.  When you are a Christian that is open about your mental illness, the reactions are often very harsh.  I am not the type to shrink back from a difference of opinion, but when someone thinks their opinion usurps scientific fact, I am often rendered speechless.  I often sense fear, shame, and a basic lack of knowledge in Christians when it comes to this topic.  We’re supposed to have joy, aren’t we?!?  Isn’t that what the Word tells us?  If we’re depressed, bipolar, schizophrenic, and we don’t have joy, then how can we say we’re walking with God, right?  Isn’t the problem that we’re just not spiritual enough?  Surely, mental illness can’t be a REAL illness.

The Bible describes a demon-possessed man in Mark 5:1-13.  Verse five says, “Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.”  (And, by the way, how many teenagers does this apply to!)  Jesus calls the demons out of this man, and sends them into a herd of pigs nearby, who drown in a nearby lake.  I truly believe that a lot of Christians see mental illness the same way – a demon possession that needs to be driven out by Jesus Christ.  I can’t say they’re wrong, but I can’t say they’re not always right.

I’m here to say anything is possible.  Never say never.  Some people are touched by the living Christ and forever healed from what ails them.  I believe that God’s supernatural healing power is just as potent and available today as it was in ages past.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Every one of us who has claimed Christ as our Savior has the Holy Spirit living inside of us, meaning He is closer than the air around us, and perfectly capable of healing.

But even in the Bible, Jesus healed in so many ways.  He didn’t always command demons into herds of pigs.  What about the blind man whose sight was restored when Jesus spit on the ground, made mud, and rubbed it on his eyes?  For the life of me, I wish I understood why so many people are opposed to the idea that God heals with modern medicine, INCLUDING psychiatry and medication.  He is not physically here, but here spiritually.  Why is it so hard to believe that sometimes those antidepressants are a form of God’s healing?  Doesn’t all of man’s wisdom come from God?

And why is it so hard for us believers to believe that God doesn’t heel everyone, He doesn’t always rub mud in our eyes, or heal us by merely reaching out?  He doesn’t promise we’ll have perfect lives, but He promises to be our shelter in the storm.  My storm is Bipolar Disorder.  His promises give me hope, His medications give me physical help.  Why does that rub us the wrong way?

This concept was never a big deal to me until I found the right kind of medication combination to treat my illness.  Before that, I was angry, irritable, I had an out-of-control sex drive, and I was often suicidally depressed.  I lost jobs, I lost friends, I dropped out of college, and I nearly ruined my life.  I loved the Lord, when my depressions drove a big wedge between God and I, and I was physically incapable of reaching my full potential because I was so sick.

Now, if I had refused psychiatric help and refused to seek help due to spiritual reasons, and thus destroyed my life… is that any better than agreeing to take medication and turning into an extrovert with goals, dreams, and a heart for ministry?  Which one is the sin?

Going on those meds was hard.  I had so many negative questions swirling around in my mind.  Was I only a real person when I took meds  Was I really saved if I couldn’t live up to my potential without popping pills?  Then this amazing thing happened.  My medications began working.  I was no longer an insomniac, I was no longer angry and irritable for no known reason, nor was I sinking into the deep hole of depression anymore.  My marriage began to heal, I could hold a steady job, I developed wonderful friendships, and the Julie that God intended came out and showed herself for the first time.  I began developing my ministry.  I credit the Lord with my transformation.  The psychologist that diagnosed me was a great Christian lady, and I am grateful to her.  But all of her knowledge comes from God, so I give Him the glory.

I know that God brought me back to life.

Do I think sometimes people are plagued by demonic influence, and are not truly mentally ill?  Yes.

Do I think sometimes people are dealing with a painful past and need therapy and temporary meds?  Yes.

Anything is possible.  I’m not interested in dismissing any of those things.  All I want to do is educate Christians – specifically the church – on what metal illness is and isn’t, how they shouldn’t and shouldn’t address those issues, and how they should and shouldn’t minister to those that are ill.  I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist.  I’m a writer, a reporter, a mental illness sufferer who has been told many times that what I REALLY need is to pray harder and read my Bible more.  Ditch the pills!
These people mean well.  They just don’t know…

Someone has to start the dialogue.

He works in myserious ways...

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So here it is, a brand new blog.
Again.

I started a mental health blog about a month ago, then decided that would be a lot to keep up with. So I decided to start a new personal blog where I will focus on, among other things, mental illness. Why? Because I’m working on a new book project about mental illness and the Christian Church. More about that later.

Life here has been rapidly changing. My 14-year-old niece got herself into some pretty serious trouble, and was going to move in with us, but that seems to have gone bump in the night. It has been a harsh reminder of what a troubled kid I was, really, until my early twenties. I have tried to respond to her and be there for her in the ways I wished others would have responded to me at that age, but I’ve got to level with you, it’s frustrating.

When I was her age, I had a few things to my advantage. My family was troubled, but my parents were together, and I grew up knowing my family would not give up on me I had my faith in Christ, and even though I fell away time and again, the Truth kept me from afloat. Amy Grant was my childhood hero – that’s as tame as it gets. But my niece doesn’t have childhood heroes worth looking up to. Much of her music is depressing. She believes in God, but doesn’t seem to know how to apply that to her life. Her parents are divorced, and her mother seems to have written her off, hopefully temporarily. And perhaps worst of all, her dad never seems to be able to set rules and boundaries and stand by them.

I tried to jump in as a parental figure, but found that it just pushed her away, so I’ve gone back to being Fun Aunt Julie. If she ever does move in, I suppose that will have to change, but for now, I feel like that’s who I need to be.

The thing that really struck me recently was the fact that for so long I have been asking God to put me back in youth ministry. How many of us ask God for things with no strings attached? I’d venture to say very few. Instead of, “Put me to work for Your Kingdom, Lord. Whatever!” we too often say, “Put me to work for Your Kingdom, Lord, and here’s how I’d like you to do it…”

Not that we shouldn’t talk to God and share our desires. But I’ve had to reexamine my heart in the wake of all of this and realize that while I may not be touring the country speaking to teenage girls, I’ve got a teenage girl of my very own and she is very much my ministry. My niece, my friend, my ministry.

We’ve got to learn how to care for a single heart if we’re ever going to care for a flock.

Writing is the same way. I have friends that travel the country week after week, speaking about their books, and I wonder when my time will come. But long ago, long before my first book was even written, God told me that if I would write about Him, and write what He tells me to write, that I would be successful.

So here’s my new blog, Jesus. I want You to trust me in the little things, so we cantake a gentle step onto the next level of this ladder we’re climbing together.

Ah, it’s good to see all of you again.

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