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. (Psalm 139:7-8)
I had the good fortune and the awful burden of growing up in a family that taught me the fear of the LORD. Though this fear was not always healthy (or always faithful to Scripture), it did anchor me through rough waters and kept me growing in a love-relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Since before my birth, God has been busy pursuing me. I have strayed yet I’ve always been kept within the range of God’s never-failing love.
We all experience ups and downs in life. But with bipolar,my highs have been dangerously high and my lows critically low At both extremes, I have flirted with death,coming very close to ending my life and doing great damage to those around me. Through miraculous mercy God has kept me alive, saving me from certain destruction.
For over 30 years of my often reckless life, the Psalms have helped me maintain spiritual balance.
As a chaplain, I recited Psalms in community each morning during prayer service. In my quiet time, I’ve regularly read and reflected on the Psalms in writing. In weekly worship, Psalms shine through the hymns and praise songs I’ve selected and sung. On retreats, I’ve joined brothers and sisters in Christ as they’ve read the Psalms in prayer and over meals.
The title of this book is partially taken from a poem by Robert Herrick. It is not about God or bipolar disorder. Instead, it is about a dress. But more than a dress.
A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness class
Into a fine distraction class
An erring lace which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat:
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.
There is a “wild civility” to bipolar disorder that makes it deceptively desirable at times.
Before I was diagnosed with bipolar, I was mired in the darkness of despair, unable to accomplish anything, sleeping through the day and lying awake in bed at night. I was prescribed an anti-depressant which brought almost instantaneous relief.
Suddenly, I was able to wake up early, spend a tremendous deal of concentrated time in prayer and Scripture and write. Oh, could I write! I was divinely inspired (or so I thought). I wrote a book on prayer in little over a week, staying up late nights and waking up early in the mornings, leaving behind my wife and infant daughter so I could pursue the muse. It felt great. But it was awful. I was delightfully disordered.