When I was child, I used to sit on my swing set and tell God everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. At the time, it seemed the most natural and uncomplicated thing to pour out my heart to him, including my sorrows and heart aches and fears. I believed then that he heard my every word and cared for me when I could turn to no one else.
My religious background is complicated to say the least. I am not a religious person but a person who spiritual. After my near fatal suicide attempt and diagnosis with Bipolar 1 Disorder and PTSD, I heard from others “You should just trust God more” or “You should go back to church” or a lot of other statements that were hurtful and drove the wedge of stigma down into the ground around me a little to close. I had only a handful of people who identified themselves as Christian or religious in my life who just simply sat with me and loved me. Those few who did though loved me with the Godlike love I remembered from my childhood. They have been through the darkest depressive episodes, the aftermaths of mania, the PTSD issues and the struggle to maintain my health physically.
Their presence lead me to the parable of the Centurion from the Book of Mark. (Paraphrasing mine) The Centurion comes to Jesus to heal his son who is some distance away. Jesus asks if he believes and the Centurion responds, “I believe but help me in my unbelief.”
When asked if I have faith or believe in God, I always return to the above parable with my response. For me, having faith in God is much like the wind. While I cannot see it, I feel it against my face when it blows. I have felt it before and am certain that I will feel it again.
I often stay away from churches due to my experiences there personally but I struggle with the desire to return after 15 years away. I think returning to the right church would be a step towards my long term recovery but I am not sure that it will be an easy choice to pursue. I feel so far away from that childlike faith that I had on my swing set as a little girl. And yet in my quirky and weird sense of humor, I began describing what it is like to have Bipolar Disorder as like being on a swing set and never getting off. Maybe it isn’t I who had the sense of humor that day a few weeks ago when I described it that way, but God, trying to gain my attention.