Worship may be my most blogged about topic, because it just so happens that I am very passionate about it, not only for myself but that everyone have the worship experience they need to encounter God. I volunteer in worship production each Sunday at my church, and I have researched worship and how people worship and what suits them best. I put a whole semester of school and an entire senior project into the topic, and yet I feel like I have only just touched the surface. In fact, I’m currently reading “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas, and have found it to be fascinating as it describes how different people with different likes and personalities and temperaments experience God best in different ways.
I think it is totally amazing how God has made us all so unique and that my expression of worship often will differ from someone else’s expression of worship and yet it is all worshiping the same God. And then I like how in corporate worship we can all worship together and yet still experience God in a way that is best suited to us. I tend to find God in the intellectual, it was actually going back to college that helped inspire me in my relationship with God and to begin to understand things. So this week I was studying for one of my final classes and read something that was very profound to me:
“Worship understood as dialogic in which God takes the initiative and human response consists in worship. Worship typically involves public prayer, sacraments, reading of Scripture and preaching. True worship also involves penitence and the ability to forgive others (indeed McClendon sees this as almost a separate practice), and the overcoming of all forms of discrimination (ethnic, class and gender) in line with the making of one new people out of two” (Moore, 2011, p. 55).
This brought up some things I’d never really associated with worship, the idea that forgiving others is an act of worship and that overcoming discrimination is a form of worship, I’d never considered that. But the more I think about it, the more I think that Moore might be on to something. I do know that unforgiveness and discrimination can be hindrances to worship, but perhaps that is because those acts are worship and perhaps deep down we know that.
I claim that two things significantly changed my life, the greatest being Jesus Christ and the second thing being Prozac. As a fundamentalist being depressed was not to be talked about and the only guidance I ever received was that I obviously had unconfessed sin and that the depression would go away if I would just repent. When I struggled with eating disorders and with cutting and when I attempted suicide the fundamentalists told me that I just wanted attention. I tend to be a fighter and one of the first things I did when I left fundamentalism was make sure I got some counseling, because I knew I was broken and I wasn’t sure how to be fixed.
The thing is, Jesus is the Great Physician, and there are many ways he chooses to help us. For me one of the things that he has allowed to be of help to me is antidepressants and mood stabilizers. When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder about a year ago, I was devestated, and I knew many people that I had known would not understand it and would write it off as rebellion, which is what happened. In fundamentalism I was supposed to keep up appearances and having a mental illness was just not part of that dynamic and so nobody knew what to do about it. After so long of thinking I was crazy, it has been nice to know why I felt the way I did and nice to know that although there is no cure for bipolar, that with good medicine and good counseling, I can feel more “normal” (whatever that is) than I ever have and that I can think straight.
Sometimes, in an effort to try to make myself look good rather than be real, I try to pretend that I am fine sometimes when I am not. I have tried to be honest about having bipolar and I have tried to do everything I am supposed to do. But often I still feel ashamed, like it is something that I need to hide, something that I cannot mention to anyone. Sometimes I still don’t want to accept the diagnosis because it is so deeply ingrained in me that my problem is merely a sin problem. I tend to think that we all have a lot of difficulties in life due to sin but I also believe it is not fair to those who suffer to write off their illnesses as only sin problems. Yes, having bipolar makes it much easier to sin especially in thinking wrong thoughts.
It isn’t a surprise to God that I have bipolar, for some reason unknown to me, this is something that he has allowed in my life and I just need to trust him. The grace that saved me is the same grace that is available to me every day in life as I walk with Jesus, the grace that helps me to deal with bipolar, as well as the other things going on in my life. And for that, I am so very thankful.