Life is a journey.
There is a beginning and an end, and therein lies all the certainty you are given. If you are lucky enough to encounter God Himself, your life will be forever changed. If you are willing and privileged enough to enter into a relationship with God, follow Him, and let Him lead you, I can guarantee you will end up in a journey you could never conceive of in your wildest dreams.
At 13 God spoke to me through scripture and I knew it held a secret to the path my life would eventually follow. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers, against principalities, and dark authorities in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 spoke to me in a very real and terrifying way, and I knew this was sent to me from God. I knew this was my “burning bush” moment, and it was the scariest thing to be standing on the threshold of learning God’s calling for my life. I wrotethe scripture on my bedroom wall, carried it around in my school binder, and in my heart.
I felt God calling me. More then my happy idealistic middle-class early 1990’s world. I knew God meant more for me, to experience more of Him, and to follow His ways. So I prayed for God to show me the path of heartache and struggle I would eventually need to use for His purpose.
At the time I was in a great youth group, with my safe prayer buddies. We’d been studying, praying together three years almost, and I decided to go to my Anglican churches youth group the next year- well God decided for me, I listened. And things didn’t work out very well. I encountered a much different atmosphere then I was expecting.
It was my first lesson in church politics, and the first lesson in spiritual warfare I would learn in life. People just aren’t open or accepting of God’s truth, and carrying it around with you is enough to make people hate you in a way they themselves don’t understand. I was attacked, isolated, and ostracised in an indirect way which made me the villain and their treatment of me acceptable. I’m not just talking about the other kids, but the leaders as well. In hurt and rejection from the church I felt God was rejecting me.
Unfortunately, this was the time period in which my bipolar was beginning to show itself. At the time I had little understanding of what was happening to me, or what it meant. Between the passive-aggressive rejection I received from my church and the emerging negative self-talk and depression I was experiencing, life began to take on a bleakness I have never fully shaken.
Things happened around me and I could see the war happening in the spiritual world. I became terrified of what I could see. The harder I tried to reach for God, the greater the attacks came. I tried to reach out, but there was no one to reach out to, no one who understood what I was going through. No one to tell me, explain to me, the very real spiritual war which rages around us. Satan used this against me.
I believe God gave me my bipolar as the thorn in my side I would have to contend with. He also gave me the gift of discernment and faith. I believe these are all tied together in the plan God has for my life, but at the time of my late teens all I could see what the hurt and pain being inflicted on me by a hypocritical, ignorant church.
It became easier to ignore God. It made the spiritual attacks lessen. Life became easier, and I became afraid of openly following God. My faith didn’t falter, but I did. Over the next decade, as my relationship waned, my bipolar intensified. I struggled, I faltered, and tried to die. Yet God wasn’t ready to give up on me, and deep down I wasn’t ready to give up on Him.
To this day I don’t know if my straying from God in all my struggles was just another part of his plan, but because of my struggles I am one step closer to being able to use the gifts and talents He’s given me. It’s been a slow decade returning to God, building my spiritual life and relationship with Him again. There are still peaks and valleys with my bipolar and with my relationship with Christ. Yet my faith is stronger then it ever has been, due in part because of the tribulations I have faced and conquered.
Looking back, I know for certain that God was there the entire time. He never left me, never forsook me.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6