I have a field of expertise I did not choose. On the contrary, I purposed in my heart to stay as far away from it as I possibly could. But many years ago I placed my life in God's hands and asked Him to chose the path that I should travel. If I was left to chose, I would take the quiet scenic route, one where I could just idle my life away. But God knows what we need to learn in order to accomplish His will for our lives and the roads we must travel to do the learning. Sometimes He leads us up the steepest trails to keep us in condition spiritually.
From the time I was a child, I was afraid of mental illness. My mom would often visit a mental hospital to cheer up the patients, and I would sit and wait outside. I was scared of that place.
When I got older I almost decided to be a nurse, but then I heard that nurses all had to spend some time working with the mentally ill before they graduated, and I decided that I absolutely could not be a nurse. I was sure that if I spent time with them I would become like them.
I was always an absent-minded person. I grew up with the words, “You'd forget your head if it wasn't glued on to your shoulders.” I knew there must be something wrong with me to make me forget all the time. And, besides that, I always froze under pressure, and I was far too emotional to be normal.
These thoughts made me fear my own mental illness. I was sure I was tottering on the brink. I was afraid that it wouldn't take much to push me over the edge. And maybe I was right. I strongly believe it is only the grace of God that keeps me calm and sane as I travel along the path He has chosen for me.
But although the Lord has kept my mind at peace, He has not kept the thing that I dreaded away from me. I walked through the valley with Him when my oldest daughter was taken to the hospital by a police officer for acting strange and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I came in close contact with Alzheimer's disease when my husband's sister became ill, and then, in 2010, my husband developed dementia, and again my path led through the world of mental illness.
But I have also seen God at work. I see a daughter who, after several years of constant breaks, is now living a normal life, but it's a life salted with the experiences she has gone through. And I am watching my husband go through a healing process that astounds health care givers and friends alike. (See Can God Use Facebook to answer prayers.) As I watch Bruce grow stronger mentally, I also see him display a spiritual maturity that has been born as a result of those fiery trials.
Christians are not exempt from trials, but when the trials involve mental illness, they become very hard to understand.
I plan on doing a series of articles around the subject of mental illness and the Christian; not a pleasant topic, but one that touches us all in one way or another. And, whether I would have chosen it for myself or not, the Lord has allowed me to go through situations that may help someone else along the way.