Saturday, September 09, 2006

Faith and mental well-being

I have lived with bipolar disorder as a person who didn't believe in God. And I've lived with bipolar illness as someone who learned to have faith in Jesus Christ. And, though my faith did not "heal" me, I have become a stronger person because of it.

Trusting in God has removed a lot of the fear I had. I don't become anxious as often. I know that I'm on a spiritual journey that will never end until I go to heaven. Some anxiety and some fear will always be part of my life. But I live with a hope that keeps me well more than I would otherwise be. And, though I know that depression will still periodically hit me - as it has quite a few times over the past 18 months - I've learned that, every time I come back into the light, I'm a different person in some way. My moods teach me things, even if it's only to have better compassion for others who suffer in some way.

The Bible says "...we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has give us." (Romans 5:3-5)

Although suffering is painful there is something about the pain that does build character.

But I think the greatest thing I've learned since I began following Christ, was that God loves me unconditionally - no matter what. When I go through the pain that comes periodically, feelings of abandonment and darkness, I try to remember Jesus who is well acquainted with those feelings. He also suffered greatly - all for us. God knows what our pain is like. When we suffer, he suffers with us. We are not alone. To this knowledge we can cling.

I have known of God's love for a long time, but I haven't always felt it, or grasped just how great it truly is. But when I did, I became more confident, more assured of my worth. And all I knew I wanted to do, was to work for him, to help others understand how wide and long and high and deep his love is.


searcher said...

The ideal of having an ever present God, who is aware of one's suffering, definitely brings solace. It is the feeling that one has been abandoned by God, and that one is really suffering for no apparent reason, or the sufferer is responsilbe for his or her own suffering, that prolongs the darkness. It is in the darkness, that God's presence is most likely there, but not as visible.

marja said...

Thank you, searcher. You're right.

And here is where friends who share your faith, can be helpful by showing their love and support when it's so hard to feel God's presence.

It's through my church friends that I learned how great God's love truly is. My friends pray for me and stay close when I need them. And I, in turn, support them when they're in trouble.

Bleeding Heart said...

Hi Marja - I believe in God. I am very spiritual, I taught Religion, and when I was young I wanted to be a nun.

But with this Mental disorder, for me...God isn't the issue for me. I think because I know he had nothing to do with this and accepting it has nothing to do with faith for me.

I have faith, I love God, and I believe in God...but accepting this illness and receiving the support from others or not receiving the support from others is what makes it So hard for me to deal with.

Dobro said...

Hi! I am glad your faith is strong and that you know that God loves you unconditionally. I also like that passage from Isaiah 53 about Jesus being a Man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief.It gives me comfort when the suffering comes and some people don't understand and reject me