I am part of a team of people starting “HOPE” for Mental Health at Kentwood Community Church. We are part of Celebrate Recovery founded by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. This group of courageous people, who admit their imperfections and trust Jesus to deliver them, have been a catalyst to me being able to confess my sins to another trusted person (or small group). I read my Nobody’s Perfect post from August of 2013 tonight and realized I had promised to get back to you when I had put this into practice.
Much better late than never.
I had told Jesus my sins but telling another person with skin on freed me from most of the grip of satan in my life. No amount of prayer has freed me as much as telling my sin to another person. Sin loses power when exposed.
I have known for years that I was “supposed to” confess my sins to another. But I made excuses and told myself it really didn’t matter. I lost years of my life to satan’s influence simply because “I know more than God.”
God is not mocked. I reaped what I sowed.
But I have learned.
I am grateful to God for the mental illness He gave me. (But I would never want to repeat it). Looking back I was “crazier” when I was “sane” and sane now that I’m mentally ill.
Let me unpack that.
Before mental illness I wanted to be a aerospace engineer. I wanted to impress people with how smart I was. I wanted fame, fortune, power and pleasure. I had bought the whole commercial-driven American media world-view.
Most of the girls in my high school graduation class wanted to be social workers it seemed. I thought they were crazy. Helping people seemed like a colossal, boring, unrewarding waste of time.
It was at this point that God publicly invaded my private world. God told me I was a sinner, but I didn’t believe Him. What I didn’t know was that I was in love with myself, looked down on everyone else, and thought the world should serve me. That’s when God gave me mental illness. And my life and the lies I told myself, about myself, fell with a great crash. God humbled me. I couldn’t get much “lower” in superficial stereo-typed status than being intermittently locked up in mental hospitals.
For the next ten years I fought God and the meds. At the end of ten years God gave me the wisdom to take the meds. Then He sent Bonnie, who knew and loved Jesus, to tell me Jesus loved me. I wasn’t interested. Then Bonnie told me that if I rejected the love of Jesus, the only thing left for me was hell.
That got my attention.
I chose to turn around and follow Jesus.
He forgave me, loved me and gave me a heart that cared about other people. Now I am a Certified Peer Support Specialist working with others who themselves deal with mental illness. I encourage, give hope, and care. And I love it. It took most of my life to discover my life’s work. And it took going “crazy” to discover what real sanity is.
There are many definitions of the “Glory of God”. To me the greatest attribute of God’s glory is his humility. God chose to humble Himself and love me when I was arrogant, boastful, insulting and rude; to others and especially to Him. If God had not endured my disrespect, I would probably be in hell by now. And rightfully so.
My greatest weakness may be “Pride.” I wrote evangelistic advertisements for a newspaper. The ads ran every Saturday. I did this for two years until my pride was such that I couldn’t hear from God any more. I didn’t write again for 8 years. I knew I was getting proud. I didn’t want to get proud. I thought I confessed my pride to God. But I was proud.
Pride is the opposite of love. Love gets its joy from helping others. Pride thinks only about itself. I still need to die to myself. Every day.
On the other hand, God’s humility is amazing. His depths of self-denial are so great that if I loved like He does I would feel embarrassed. Like the father of the prodigal son, God undignifies Himself and runs after us to love us. Where I would feel humiliated to love someone who treated me like I treated God, His strength-of-self knows no such weakness. He voluntarily throws aside the respect due Him, in order to meet my need. And He has. And He truly has my Respect.
How about you? Did you think God was stuffy, formal and pretentious? Did you think you were too low for Him to come down to meet you where you are? He’s already there. And He is waiting for you to ask Him into your life. And He wants to give you His love.