Tagged: ephesians

Bipolar Christianity

Image by Erin Nicole Photography on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/dNVy75)

Image by Erin Nicole Photography on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/dNVy75)

I am a victim and observer of what I have decided to call “bipolar Christianity.”

What on earth am I talking about, you may ask. Well, here’s my definition of bipolar Christianity:

Bi-pol-ar Chris-ti-an-it-y [bīˈpōlərˌkrisCHēˈanitē] = having two poles or extremities relating to one’s faith in Jesus Christ.

To break it down even further, bipolar Christianity is when you are a Christian who experiences periodic “highs” of praise and joy in Jesus and yet also experience all-consuming “lows”.

I’m talking about the people who go to church and are ecstatic and overwhelmed by the grace and love of Jesus and then go home only to sob for hours.

I’m talking about the people who are absolutely in love with Jesus and yet have an inexplicable sadness that creeps in uninvited.

I’m talking about the people who are on fire for God and have all these dreams and plans and motivation only to later be found curled up on the floor wondering why they’re even alive.

And these people don’t necessarily have clinical depression or bipolar disorder. And they aren’t experiencing some silly side-effects of PMS.

They just have this problem with keeping their emotions on one side of the spectrum. They love Jesus and they have great faith, but they experience intense ups and downs. That’s just their life.

If you’re reading this and you’re starting to feel like I may be referring to you because you can wholeheartedly relate, then I just want to say now that nowhere in this post will I offer a solution.

I don’t have a solution. Trust me.

I’m a bipolar Christian and I can rack my brains for as long as I’d like and still never come up with an answer to this dilemma.

When you’re a bipolar Christian, you just feel kind of… stuck.

This post isn’t intended to encourage you to do step A, B, and C to get a hold of your emotions and your life. I have no authority to tell you how to do so.

This post is intended to just say, “hey, you’re not alone.”

And I also want to remind you of some nuggets of truth that maybe you can hold on to for now. You might not remember these things when you find yourself in the low moments of your day, but when you’re composed again, I hope they are an encouragement.

Truth #1: Jesus loves you.

You know it, but do you feel it? Stop for a second and just meditate on the idea– the REALITY– of His love for YOU.

You know the way you feel sometimes when you’re worshiping? Like how full of joy you feel to be praising your glorious Father? And in that moment, you don’t feel like a failure or a disappointment. You just feel loved.

When you’re NOT worshiping, you are loved just the same. When you’re just going through the mundane routine of your life, you are loved just the same. When you are unable to speak, move, or pray, you are loved just the same.

He loves you today just the same as He ever has or ever will. He loves you infinitely more than you’ll ever understand or comprehend. And that love doesn’t change.

Truth #2: You are blameless.

I know you wish from the bottom of your heart that you could feel whole and just be fine and not have to deal with the things you do. I know sometimes you feel so guilty and ashamed of your inability to remain joyful in God. Everyone else seems to have it all together and you have no idea of what’s wrong with you. All you know is that it’s wrong.

But it’s not wrong.

Repeat this to yourself: It’s not wrong to feel the way I do. I’m not wrong for feeling.

You are a new creation in Christ and that means the kingdom of heaven is now yours. And if you’re having a hard time understanding what that means for your life, that’s okay. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to be filled with joy, that’s also okay.

Your Spirit knows. Your Spirit knows God’s joy and how to bring you there. Your Spirit knows your innermost longings and it cries out when you cry out, too.

Do you know what’s IN the kingdom of heaven? PERFECTION.

And even though you’re stuck here on this earth for now and you can’t fully enjoy that perfection awaiting you in the next life, you are already considered blameless and pure and whole in His eyes.

You might think that’s an audacious statement, but it’s only audacious to you if you don’t know Scripture.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be HOLY and BLAMELESS in his sight. (Ephesians 1:3-4; emphasis mine)

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of  your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you HOLY in his sight, WITHOUT BLEMISH and FREE from accusation. (Colossians 1:21-22; emphasis mine)

These aren’t traits that are to come. This is our reality here and now. Once we were saved by faith in Jesus Christ, we were ensured an inheritance and that inheritance, the kingdom of heaven, is sealed in us by the Holy Spirit.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Because of the Spirit living in you, you are regarded as WORTHY of receiving God’s promises and that worthiness translates to you as being holy and blameless. Only a holy and blameless person could receive these gifts of grace and salvation from God. And only Jesus could bring us to that state of holiness and blameless.

You, my friend, have been brought into that state.

You are holy and blameless, and no depression or anxiety or pain can destroy that.

Truth #3: You don’t have to be alone.

Do you know that there are bipolar Christians (and I’m sorry if you don’t like being called that) everywhere?

There are bipolar Christians around every corner and some of them could be your closest friends.

The reason why we don’t know where to find them is because they’re often in hiding.

We bipolar Christians are fond of hiding because we think it’s abnormal and wrong to feel the things we do and be the way we are.

We’re afraid that if people find out, we will be beat over the head with talk of spiritual welfare and demons. Our faith will be questioned and we’ll suddenly be the odd ones out.

And even though all of these things are a possibility (depending on who you surround yourself with), your true brothers and sisters in Christ would not want you to suffer alone. And God doesn’t want you to suffer alone. No one should have to suffer alone.

As scary as it is, admitting your bipolarity can be the most freeing thing. You suddenly feel like you have allies, people to pray on your behalf when you don’t have the strength or willpower to pray for yourself. You have friends, people who truly know you.

It’s okay to confide in trustworthy people about your feelings.

It’s also okay if you don’t. We aren’t designed to be isolated but if you feel as though you just can’t confide in anyone right now, know that Jesus is your ally. And I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

We serve a God who “is able to sympathize with our weaknesses” and whose “throne of grace” we may approach confidently (Heb. 4:15-16).

 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and FAMILIAR WITH PAIN.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and BORE OUR SUFFERING,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds WE ARE HEALED.

(Isaiah 53:3-5; emphasis mine)

Jesus understands. It’s perhaps unfathomable, but it’s true. He understands you better than you understand yourself, and he beckons you closer to Him because  you are never meant to be alone.

I know these things aren’t the answers you might have been looking for, but like I said, I have no solution to offer. I only have the truth.

And this truth I have to declare over myself all the time because I know how hard it is to hold on to it.

As I’m bombarded by attacks of satan and my flesh, it’s so difficult to remember to put on this armor of God that Paul speaks so fondly of. But there’s something powerful about the armor of God.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of TRUTH, and having put on the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish ALL the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD OF GOD, praying at ALL times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:10-18; emphasis mine)

This whole armor of God thing might be kind of confusing, but it makes sense if you consider what it’s really saying. We must be equipped with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Spirit, the Word of God, and prayer if we are to have any chance of withstanding attacks of the enemy.

And it may sound strenuous to try to equip ourselves with all the things, but just about all the work has been done by God already.

He’s given us truth through His Word and His Spirit, He’s already made us righteous, He’s given us the full story of the Gospel and how through that we have received salvation, and we are worthy to approach Him with our prayers and supplications.

The biggest part of the faith is sometimes just remembering we have these things. It’s especially hard to remember when darkness is so convincing.

But darkness doesn’t win in our lives. Not anymore. The “gospel of peace” that gives us “readiness” (v.15) is the story of Jesus’ victory on the cross and the subsequent victory in our lives. We are ready to fight when we accept that we are already victorious.

Regardless of how overwhelming things are for  you, the truth remains that Jesus loves you, you are blameless, and you don’t have to be alone.

How I wish we could all just dump our sadness once and for all! But that’s not the world we live in.

That beautiful, perfect, pain-free world is coming. And until then, I pray that we learn to fight.

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From Darkness to Light

Image by Noelle Buske on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/d1i8Mj)

Image by Noelle Buske on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/d1i8Mj)

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you– Psalm 139:7-12

Sometimes I feel like King David hiding in a cave.

Venturing out is just too dangerous. Everywhere he turns, he encounters enemy after enemy. They are looking to kill him.

He fears for his life. All he can do is wait in the dark and beg the Lord to avenge him, to give him back even just a small portion of what he once had.

And all the while, David’s eyes are becoming accustomed to the dark. He’s becoming accustomed to hiding and running.

The question that remains is, can he outrun God? Will he reach a point of no return as he dives deeper into this dark, empty cave?

No.

No darkness is too dark or impenetrable for the light of God’s presence.

I, like King David, have found myself again and again in an all-too-familiar cave. Enemies all around. Blocked entrance. No room to breathe.

Darkness upon darkness upon darkness.

And yet I can testify that the Lord has never left me. It doesn’t matter how alone I feel. The reality is He’s been there all along. He’s been fighting my enemies. He’s been paving a way out for me. He’s been breathing air into my lungs.

There is no such thing as too much dark or too much sadness or too much sin or too much pain. At least, those things aren’t too much for the healing touch of God.

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Sometimes you will feel like the gap between where you are and where you long to be is just too wide.

But His love is wider still.

Sometimes you will feel like time is going by too slowly and it’s been far too long. You’re too far gone.

But His love is longer still.

Sometimes you will feel like the wall you built to block out the world is too high to ever climb over, too strong to ever break down.

But His love is higher still.

Sometimes you will feel like you’re in over your head and the hole you’ve found yourself in is just too deep.

But His love is deeper still.

There is no place we can run that God can’t follow. And while that might not sound reassuring to some, it is the greatest of blessings. There will come a time when you’re tired of the darkness (I know I sure am), and that will be the opportunity for the greatest story of redemption ever told to unfold.

Let His light pierce the darkness. Let’s get out of these caves.

The Immeasurably More

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).

What is the “immeasurably more” that God has in store for your life? What are the things that He is going to bring to fruition in your life that you wouldn’t even think to ask for or dare imagine? What will be the result of the work he is doing within you?

These are questions I want you to start asking yourself because I’m beginning to question the same things.

It’s funny how obvious God’s work is when we look back on our lives yet how doubtful we can become as far as His work in our future. We’re so quick to look at our present circumstances and think, this must be it.

There couldn’t possibly be awesome things awaiting me. God isn’t going to use me to change the world. I’ll be lucky if I meet the right guy and find a job I actually enjoy that will pay the bills. I’ll scrape along like my parents have and my parents’ parents did before. 

These are things I have often told myself, particularly in times when it seemed like nothing was going according to plan. Or at least, according to my plan.

Sure, He’s completely changed my life from the inside out and has provided for me physically, socially, and emotionally since birth. He has transformed me from a self-consumed brat to a woman whose heart contains love that she has no idea what to do with. He’s brought me an amazing group of friends and mentors who have challenged me and been there for me during the roughest times of my life. He’s given me a family that not only supports me with their wallets, but also supports my dreams by their encouragement and “nudge” to the next step in life. I went from thinking that money and fame was all that mattered to realizing that nothing in this world compares to the beauty of Christ and the eternity He has waiting for His beloved.

I’ve done three life-changing internships that involved me in ministry. He’s used me to speak to others and make a difference in people’s lives. Within the past year, I’ve been given several opportunities to use my vocal talent for the glory of God through worship. I’ve led Bible studies and fallen in love with an amazing group of middle schoolers that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and leading for over a year. I’ve had visions, I’ve had dreams, I’ve been given callings for my life. And I’m still just nineteen.

Yes, God has done all these things and more.

I say all these things not to boast, but to show you my weakness as a human who cannot truly perceive the work of God. Even though I can see such good that God has done in my life, I still forget and doubt His goodness. I still question if He’s really doing anything in my life.

And I know I must not be the only one. There are many who have been wondering if there is such a thing as the “immeasurably more” that Paul speaks of. Could God really have a great calling on our lives? Will He really do more than we could ever dream of?

I think the answer is already staring at us in the face.

He already has done immeasurably more, hasn’t he?

Look at your life. Look at where you started and where you are now. You most likely are not the same person you were when you first began your walk with God. In your former life, did you ever expect such grace and joy to fall over you? Did you ever expect such freedom?

We’ve already been given more than we could’ve asked for, yet we forget the power of God so easily. The truth is, we have NO IDEA what God has in store for us. The dreams you used to have can still become a reality. They may not look how you imagined, but God knows the desires of our hearts and what will truly bring us the joy and peace we’re searching for. He knows what to do with the dreams we’ve discarded and questioned.

It’s time to find that faith again. We may not know what this “immeasurably more” is, but we know whose hands will deliver it.