This past Easter, I got dressed for church like I normally would. At the door, I panicked. These days, church feels incredibly overwhelming. Especially on a day where we celebrate a triumphant God and especially in churches where all we worship is a triumphant God. Because when we celebrate the risen Christ, but never the crucified Christ, people who are broken get left behind. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t need to know that God holds the victory, I needed to know that the God who is familiar with death walks beside me.
So often, we attach sin to stigma. In the past 15 years, I have heard pastors tell people to not take their medication. I’ve heard pastors tell people that anxiety is the result of pride. I’ve heard pastors make jokes about Bible characters having bipolar disorder or schizophrenia – but only when those characters are indecisive or talking to themselves. Once during a period of depression, a pastor told me to smile without ever asking if I was okay.
In churches where we worship triumphalism, we value non-stop efficiency and creativity. We worship people who work non-stop. People with bipolar disorder (and really, any other mental health needs) are harmed by this work ethic. I can create non-stop, but that’s normally a symptom of a problem. For me, working non-stop often triggers hypomania because that’s how I can get everything done.
All of this creates a space that I can’t imagine stepping into. And if I’m being totally honest, it’s not just the people that I’m angry with – it’s God. Bipolar disorder has impacted my life in so many ways, and if I’m being radically honest, I always think it’s going to get me before I can get everything done.
For the past year, this struggle with the church has been the thing that I have to wait through. I’m learning to deconstruct the things that the church has taught me about my value and worth. I know there are people who question my faith. But I am here. And when I pray for help, God is still faithful enough to show up. Right now, that’s as much faith as I need. Because I know that resurrection doesn’t just happen on Easter, it’s ongoing. It happens in the small moments where you find life in the midst of death, and if you can find those moments, you can find the Christ who is resurrected and present with you.