I always get “Delight” in having and sharing my dear friend, author, and advocate Tony Roberts and his informative blog at “Delight In Disorder” all about Mental Health.
He shares just how he feels and experiences as he raises awareness about living with mental health challenges. Also, way more than I do. He has such a beautiful heart and is full of faith as well. So I happened to really enjoy a couple of his recent posts and I know many of you will too and benefit from. I am hoping you will take a little time to visit his blog and give both a “Finishing Read.” They both are excellent topics and we all know that reading is being “In The Know and Powerful.”
“Fresh Hope for Mental Health Interview” ~By Tony Roberts
A few weeks back, I received an unexpected message from Pastor Brad Hoefs from Fresh Hope for Mental Health. Fresh Hope is a mental health ministry that reaches out with an uplifting Gospel message for those who are often cast down. Their mission is to “empower individuals to live a full and rich faith-filled life in spite of a mental health diagnosis.” Toward this end, they have developed curriculum for support groups around the country, they are producing webinars on such topics as “What I Wish My Pastor Knew About Mental Health,” and distribute a podcast that is one of the best of its kind.
Pastor Brad reached out to me to be a guest on this podcast. Below is the link to the program and the show notes:
Pastor Tony Roberts was born and raised in the Hoosier heartland just south of Indianapolis. He grew up worshiping high school basketball and once had the honor of playing in a televised “game of the week.”
Tony went to Hanover College. After many detours into sex, drugs, and more folk rock than roll, he wound up at the seminary and became a pastor. It was then that symptoms of depression and mania culminated in a psychotic episode that became pivotal in his life, for better and for worse.
After graduating from Hanover, Tony obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. While there, he did ministry assignments at a state hospital for persons with developmental disabilities, as well as at a women’s prison, and inner-city hospital.
Tony served two decades as a solo pastor. He then shifted to writing, speaking, and leading small groups. In March of 2014, Tony published his spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. Having served in pastoral ministry and gone mad, it’s now his mission to bridge the gap between faith communities and the mental health world.
Tony now live in Columbus, Indiana, with supportive family and faithful friends who keep me honest and encourage me to be who God created him to be. Tony’s greatest earthly delights are my four children and two grandchildren, with one more on the way.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)
46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2.46-47)
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, early Christians were on fire. They worshiped daily, shared meals bountifully, praised God delightfully, and built a reputation for loving each other and others with precious passion and compassion. They were filled with a spiritual fervor that knew no end.
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I have had such spiritual fervor. What has happened to my faith?
I went to church this morning, the first time in a long while. For various reasons, I have been absent from the pews much of the year. I have many excellent explanations, but no good excuses. My faith family has been patient with me. More than this, they persistently care in spite of it.
People still stay in touch, frequently send texts or emails not to badger me about coming to church, but to ask how I am doing, let me know that they are praying for me, and offer to help in any way they can. No pressure. No guilt. Just checking in with a brother in Christ to express love and concern. As one sincerely expressed, “We are more concerned with how you are than where you are on Sunday morning.”
As I sat in the pew today, I thought of brothers in Christ who make a difference in my faith.
Some time ago. I asked a brother, Sam S., to serve as my prayer partner. We meet every two weeks to do a Bible study book. We share casual concerns, deep joys, and requests for discernment. I have shared with Sam specific spiritual concerns and he is intent to pray for me, particularly over the weekend, that I might be motivated to come to worship in the fellowship of saints.
Sam is the song leader at our church. His deep melodious sound rings out and surrounds the sanctuary with ancient Psalms, the songs Jesus sang, set to classic church tunes. When my soul is most troubled, I sometimes remain in my pew as people stand and, instead of singing along, streams of tears will flow down my cheeks as I hide my face in my Psalter.
Then there is Gary M, an elder. When I first visited Columbus Reformed Presbyterian (CRPC), Gary was quick to introduce himself and invite me to a weekly fellowship called the Grub-In. We would meet at Gary and his wife Cynthia’s home for food, study, song, and prayer. It meant so much to me when I was going through a separation and divorce to have another faith family I could depend on to pick me up when I was down and set me straight when I veered off course.
Pastor Andy M. is an unassuming man with an abiding faith and a gentle spirit. I have consulted him on a variety of issues, from marriage and divorce, finances, writing. I consistently find him to have an informed Biblical perspective which he shares humbly in the Spirit of truth and love.
Lately, I’ve come to know and appreciate Roger G. for his quiet support and kind encouragement. This morning he shared with me that he enjoyed my recent post on writing. It is such a blessing to know Roger and other men and women of faith are out there, reading things like this, smiling in recognition as if to say, “I get that.”
So, what has become of my faith?
I refuse to believe it is God’s fault. I am not angry at God for letting me down in some way. It is not the fault of the church. By and large, pastors and people in the pews are no more hypocritical than persons in the world who accuse them to be. I can’t blame it on the many distractions or worries; my illness is an inadequate explanation at best; I have no unresolved sin conflict in my life that would prevent me from presenting myself before God with a clear conscience.
What is it? Why have I lost my fervor for fellowship? My drive to worship? My passion for praise? What has become of my faith?
Well, I hope you will stop by Tony’s Blog and read WHY and the rest of this post!
Catherine Lyon, Author, and Advocate