The source of courage for a “reed shaking in the wind.”
Acts 4:13 in the Bible (KJV):
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
I have always been fascinated with life verses: how did people choose them, how could one verse capture their whole life, why didn’t I have one?
Today the above verse struck me. I present as timid, my hand shakes when I am nervous, my voice shakes as well. Yet, out of obedience to Jesus, I have risked my job, my family’s income, saying I would not work with ads that promoted pornography, abortion or the occult. I have been filled with the Holy Spirit explaining to upper management why these things are wrong, how they hurt all the people involved with them.
At another job I pointed out to the Executive Director that the self-care we were teaching our clients, we ourselves were being forced to ignore for ourselves because we were being forced to work 60 hours a week (for 40 hours pay). Their initial stated reaction to my email was appreciation for what I had “uncovered.” After a few months they turned on me and I quit before they could fire me.
In another situation, a group I was a part of were deciding if they should use their influence to encourage a family to stop life-support, and let someone die because if they lived it would dramatically change everyone’s life for the “worse.” (this last part was unstated by our group). I firmly dissented to stopping life-support because I believed in the long run they would recover. I was the only one that dissented. The person died. The family now regrets their decision and wishes they could choose over again. The group has never acknowledged their wrong.
I have no courage to do these things; but Jesus does. He fills me with his courage, courage to do the right thing and let God the Father handle what comes next. I may appear to others to be a “reed shaking in the wind.”
But some see that I have “been with Jesus.”
It is in the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given.
During my “personal, private sufferings” I may not have wanted to read this. All the courage that I imagine I have when not suffering abandons me in the face of real suffering. All that I thought stood by me I realize can’t help me. Sometimes even Jesus seems as though he has left me.
I am alone. And I am afraid.
As I obey my best guess as to God’s will my soul aches and I search for God in my circumstance.
It is here that I decide that no one should have to go through what I am going through alone. If I only had someone to talk to I could bear it. I decide if I encounter anyone struggling as I am, I will help them.
And a dream is born.
My dream, forged in the late seventies and early eighties, when I had not yet decided to take meds regularly and I had yet to welcome Christ into my heart, is being lived out now 35 years later (with Jesus and with meds). As a Certified Peer Support Specialist I have the privilege to serve people dealing with mental illness every day. I am doing, as Whitley Phipps says, HPLP: Helping People Live their Potential. Or, as Jesus says, Loving others.
Am I a hero? Not even close. But I am privileged to serve the real Heroes; people who fight horrific battles in their mind and in their life every day and keep on fighting. Battling thoughts that no one should have to experience, making even the simplest daily tasks excruciatingly difficult.
Mental illness takes the most hospital beds in our country and receives the lowest per patient funding in our country of any disease. It is projected that half of our population will experience mental illness in their lifetime. If that is not you then it is most likely someone you love. And it is much cheaper to pay for treatment for all who need it than to pay the costs that untreated mental illness cause: personal, family and friend suffering; lost productivity; prison cells and hospital beds.
What can we do? Get treatment for yourself or your loved one, treat the mentally ill with the respect being a Hero deserves, and vote for funding of Mental Health in your area.
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.