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During Thanksgiving at our house, around the table filled with too much food, the conversation usually includes the obligatory listing of things we are thankful for. We recite what we have seen God give or do for us in the last year. New babies, new jobs, new friends. We mention happy vacations or meaningful opportunities, all good gifts from our good Heavenly Father.

However, rarely are there offers of gratitude for the tough stuff: broken relationships, financial struggles, consequences of poor decisions. We are thankful for the gains, but not so appreciative of the losses. As a family dealing with mental illness, some years our honest recounting includes more of the latter.

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Mental Illness, Prayer, and Extravagant Grace

This blog was written at the invitation of Amy Simpson (author of  Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission) and posted on her site October 2, 2017. I was grateful to her for the opportunity to share these thoughts with her readers. 

I can’t honestly say I am thankful for the mental illness that besets our son. But in full truthfulness I can say I am glad to have been forced to do battle with my theology of suffering and to test both its mettle and mine.

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He Has a Name

Isaiah 43-1 - 2My curious eyes followed him around the store. He was easy to track in his seersucker shorts, almost-tucked-in long-sleeve plaid flannel shirt and unmatched socks sliding into well-worn sandals. As he walked/skipped/danced unfettered up and down the aisles, he talked quietly to himself. Continue reading

Becoming Aware

I first became aware of mental illness when I was about nine years old. I overheard my grandparents talking in hushed tones with my dad about my mother. At the time they didn’t label the behavior they were discussing with the words, “mental illness.” But even without a name, we all knew what we were seeing, and we knew someone needed to do something. I guess someone did because things calmed down in our family for a while. Continue reading

Endurance

Hebrews 12-1cI’m not a runner. But I have many friends who are, and they tell me that there are specialized kinds of training and clothing needed depending on the type of running that you’re going to do. A sprinter trains very specifically, as does a marathon runner. Running in a relay is not at all like racing over hurdles. The shoes are different; the course is different; the preparation is different. It is important, therefore, for a runner to know which race they’re in, so they can train, equip and pace themselves for that particular kind of run. Continue reading