Though death is against us, You are for us.

“Sometimes it is necessary to re-teach a thing its loveliness.”

By your power, great God, our Lord Jesus healed the sick and gave new hope to the hopeless. Though we cannot command or possess your power, we pray for those who want to be healed. Mend their wounds, soothe fevered brows, and make broken people whole again. Help us to welcome every healing as a sign that, though death is against us, you are for us, and have promised renewed and risen life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ~a prayer for healing, Book of Common Worship (PCUSA)

Many of you have been messaging me and asking how I’m doing. Many of you have been reaching out in prayer and in hope for my health and the wellbeing of my family. So I wanted to take a moment to update everyone. On Monday I was hospitalized, and now I am receiving careful care and attention from my doctors and my family. It may seem to you, as it does to me, that I’ve written far too many updates on my mental health.

This is no easy road to walk. This is no easy reality to live with. But in spite of it all I am feeling the stubborn yet gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit to reflect on the circumstances I continue to face. In May of this past year I preached a sermon quoting the poet Galway Kinnell who said, “Sometimes it is necessary to re-teach a thing its loveliness.” Today, I want to offer some thoughts on what I’ve learned and how I’m reacting to the reality I am facing this week. I want to share how I am re-teaching myself my loveliness

  1. I am enough. I was created by a great and loving God and I was created good. Though mental illness is a part of my story it is not the entirety of who I am or what I espouse to be. I have to love my quirky, nerdy self for who I am and that is enough. I don’t need the approval of others or institutions to know that.
  2. Vocationally speaking, I am clear. There is a need for mental health advocacy and policy reform within the United States. 1 in 5 persons die from suicide[1] if they are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That means that you have a better chance of survival playing Russian Roulette with a six shooter revolver than having an experience with bipolar. Why are we not fighting this? Why are we not equipping healthcare policy to deal with the mentally ill? We’re still in the middle ages when it comes to the brain and frankly it’s time for a reformation and transformation of the system. I commit myself to being a part of that transformation.
  3. Sacredness is found in the reality that I am not alone. I’ve spent my past few years writing a book on the beauty of an institution. While I still firmly believe that, I’m realizing the sacred nature of coffee, of wine and food, of a hug, of a sweet embrace of a lover. I’m realizing the hope of institutions is not in the institutions themselves, but the people that are inside them. We must work to recognize the sacred and beautiful moments in the darkness for that is what will see us through.
  4. Finally, and most importantly… This will never, ever win in my story. It came close on Monday, and it came close last April. But I am determined and I am driven because I have a story. I am going to cast off the stigma and the pain to say that I am loved and lovely. The whole reason this is published is not to elicit pity, but to say that our stories are sacred and must be shared.

Some say that I could lose everything in telling my story. But I’m reminded that a first century Palestinian Jew said that, “Those who lose their life will gain it.” I’m not going anywhere, I’m sitting here, gaining strength and courage for what lies ahead. I ask you to join me on this journey. Speak up and speak out about mental illness. Speak up and speak out about what might be going on in your mind. We will fight, we will win. Because in our loveliness we see that God created us for victory. God will redeem. Thanks be to God, and let’s fight the darkness.

[1] National Institute for Mental Health

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