Walking on the Other Side of the Street…

I’ve told a story about a guy walking down a street only to fall into a hole. Since I’ve posted it a few months back, I won’t retell it now. If you read it, you might remember. If you didn’t... check it out. It might be of interest to you if you find yourself at a crossroads like me. To change or not to change…? Only one option really makes sense if you’ve lived a life of dysfunction and want something more. I am a lonely, once-broken person. The brokenness is pretty much gone, but I am still lonely and I want more.

In the story the guy ends up walking down a different street and avoids the hole altogether. I think I’ve finally become that guy. Struggling with Bipolar Disorder was tiring. No, draining is more like it. It’s like walking down a street peppered with holes and you never know when you’re going to fall into one. You never know how you’re going to get out of it.Your waking life and your sleeping life are at war and you are in the middle.

That bad dream I had the other night? I dreamed that leeches were burrowing under my skin. They were trying to suck me dry and I couldn’t pull them out. The first thing I did when I woke up was check my arms and face to make sure there were no leeches. The dream had been that real. Bipolar Disorder is like a leech. It sucked years out of my life that I cannot get back. But that doesn’t mean that I have to sit in a corner and play the world’s tiniest violin for myself. Change. God keeps telling me to change. He keeps assuring me that HE can change me. If I don’t like looking at the years that Bipolar ate, then I have to be willing to change. I have to trust his changes.

Last night I met with one of the elders in my church. His wife invited me to dinner when I emailed them and told them about my decision to leave the church. I have to admit, I was nervous. Ours is not some funky cult where you are harmed if you want to leave… but I was fairly certain they would want to know why I was leaving and I worried about being able to make my reasons clear in less than five hours. Declining the invitation was not an option. I firmly believed that God wanted me to meet with them. I tried to make conversation during dinner although I was really tense. Small talk has never come easy for me. As soon as their daughter went to her room to play the wife said, “Well..?” And I had no clue what to say.

Eventually, the conversational ball got rolling and I found myself easily telling them what had gone into shaping my decision. They listened without judgment and added insights as they felt led. My tension rolled away, but I worried about knowing how much to tell them. In the end, I asked could we pray and I asked God to give me the words that I needed to say and to hold back that which shouldn’t be said. They were able to see and understand why I needed to leave and, in the end, were supportive of my decision to go. They made sure that I understood that they loved me and that I was always welcomed in their home. They wanted me to understand that the church body would always be there for me. It was so different from any time I’ve EVER left a stressful situation in my life. They didn’t say any hateful or hurtful words. They didn’t try to make me feel guilty for leaving. There were no issues left undiscussed that would later fester and come back to haunt me. They didn’t come out and say it, but when I left, I knew that I had their blessing.

Of course, after so much mental stimulation I was wired for sound when I got home. I didn’t go to sleep until well past my bed time and then I dreamed. Can’t remember the dreams now… but I dreamed. Then I woke up at some ungodly hour and couldn’t go back to sleep. Seems like Earl was trying a new tactic since I had changed my MO. Open face-to-face communication is a change for me. I’m more of the passive-aggressive emailer type. I need to do more face-to-face talking…but I should do it between the hours of 5-8, so that I can get my sleep. Former Bipolar Girls need their sleep.

When I woke up this morning and finally staggered out of bed, I was exhausted. I felt another hour of sleep was going to come in handy but I needed a bathroom break first. Got the surprise of the day when I saw a really fat centipede curled up like an ugly bracelet on the floor between me and the bathroom. Six months ago I would have freaked out. Don’t believe me… search out the post I wrote where I doused a centipede with a can of RAID and hid the body under a bucket for a week because I was too afraid to touch it.

Change? I have changed. If Earl wasn’t going to stop me a centipede wasn’t going to do it either. It was dark and windy, but I opened both of my front doors (L-shaped entry hall), got the broom, a heavy sandal, and the can of RAID and went to war. One spritz of RAID to check for life signs. When it started to dance, I whacked it with the sandal to smash it up a bit, and then I used the broom to play hockey with it and jettisoned it out the doors. Gone was my exhaustion and mental fuzziness. No longer turned into a quivering mass of fear by the creepy crawlies in my living space — I set about getting ready for my day. I opened my bible and read a verse that pretty much told the story of the man on the sidewalk in two short lines:

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. ~Proverbs 27:12

Tired of falling into the holes in your life?? Stop doing the same old, same old. Change! I can’t change my past or any of the things that have ever happened to me, but I can change how I do things now. And in doing so, I fully expect to get different outcomes. Living my life as a loner for so long, I have never really sought out relationships, communication, or accountability. I need to work on all of those things.  Making myself accountable to them last night was easier than I thought it would be. Now I know that they will be praying for me and we will be in contact during my season away from my church. I am no longer trying to be the “Lone Ranger Christian.” I cannot do life alone. I might have fallen in a lot of holes over the years. At times I may have even felt like I’d been pushed into holes by other Christians, but I’m doing things differently now. By leaving my church for a season, I’ve chosen to walk down a different street and last night I finally realized that I do not have to walk alone.

 



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