Campus ministry with the Navigators continues to teach me so much about God, people, and myself. It's a challenging endeavor, and I'm thankful to be in an environment where I'm growing exponentially and coming into contact with beautiful individuals who come from various backgrounds. I'm learning that there is power in my testimony, and the transforming power of Christ is evident when it's shared.
The Lord continues to remind me of what He's brought me through, and it's such a beautiful thing to be able to look past some of the darkest times of my life and realize that God has gotten glory through it all. Back in 2007 I could barely see past the fact that I was in and out of psychiatric centers or the fact that I had to take seven medications a day to maintain my sanity. Being labeled "mentally ill," I equated it with brokenness, and was fixated on the hurt, pain, and confusion.
I just met with my friend Brittany, who has literally gone through the same struggle with mental illness. Meeting with her is so refreshing and Proverbs 27:17 (iron sharpening iron) is always in action as we discuss what God is doing in our lives, how treatment is going, and where we feel the Lord is leading us. I am constantly reminded that those dark hours did indeed happen, but God in His ultimate goodness redeemed me (and Brittany as well). I love talking to Brittany about it because I feel completely free to be open and honest to her about details and don't have to side-step any issues or "dumb down" discussion about doctor's visits, medication, the hospitalizations, or whatever. I know that we can share our experiences with each other without fear of judgment and our conversations point to God and how we can use these things to bring Him glory. We've been talking about how our testimony can speak to others who struggle with mental illnesses or how we can help family/friends of people struggling be more supportive and understanding.
Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm then and do not let yourself be burdened again by the yoke of slavery."
As Christ freed me from bondage and captivity, I feel like my mental illness has been an illustration of God breaking my personal chains of captivity. In a lot of ways, my episodes have forced me to drop every single IDENTITY that was not of God and make my IDENTITY Christ. The manic-depressive episodes broke me and brought me to Christ.
When Brittany and I talk about these things, we are not just sharing a common experience, but we are thinking, dreaming, praying through how the Lord can use us for His glory. I pray that God uses both of our experiences to speak truth into the lives of others, and show those suffering that the Lord is sweeter, bigger, stronger than the pain.
He sets you free.