When We Feel Spiritually Bi-Polar

Sometimes the spiritual highs and lows make me wonder if I’m crazy. How else can I explain the heights and depths of this experience?

For days, sometimes weeks, I walk in victory. Life is a dance on a hill and I hear God’s voice frequently. Love, patience and acceptance of circumstances (even hard ones) all comes fairly easy. Praise and thanks are continually on my lips. I may not be elated all the time (I am human even in victory) but all is well with my soul.

And then…

For days, sometimes weeks, it feels too much to walk at all. Life is a long trudge down a dark and threatening alley, and I don’t know if I’ll make it to the end. I read my journal entries from victorious days and wonder who on earth wrote them. I wish I could be like her – full of faith and joy. But now, all is grey and sad. Frustration and sorrow pull my face in hard lines, and to smile takes conscious effort.  And I wonderis all still well with my soul?

And back and forth we go. It’s enough to make a girl question her sanity.

One day I told a friend about it. “I feel spiritually bi-polar!!” She was silent for a moment, and then said, “King David was like that…”

Yes! King David – a man after God’s own heart! – experienced intense highs and lows, victory and defeat. One day David praises God with everything in him, and the next he’s asking God to leave him alone or he’ll die. Oh! Maybe I’m not insane after all. 

Still, I have to wonder why 
I don't stay on the mountain top. 

What sends me plummeting to the bottom?

Is it sin?

Pride about victory definitely sends me into a spin if I allow it to continue. If I’m refusing to obey God in some area – even in something small - victory is compromised. When I humbly turn away from my sin and praise God instead though, joy and victory return.

Is it growing in faith?

It seems like growing into a new step of faith means standing on a trap door that suddenly releases. Instantly I’m in freefall into some dark hole. How deep it is, I do not know. But whatever I was standing on is gone for some reason, and now I’m flailing around trying to find something to hang on to. It’s scary. Finally though, I fall to the bottom – the very foundation. Carefully I feel around, checking that my footing is secure. Once the new footing is found to be trustworthy, I walk freely on it and discover my new surroundings.
That’s growing in faith. It’s scary and painful, and definitely feels insane.
Is it God’s Silence?

I do not believe God is ever completely silent. We’re surrounded by His creation which proclaims His goodness everywhere. (Ps 8) But He definitely hides himself at times (for our good and His glory). Still, He invites us to seek Him persistently and promises that when we do, we will find Him. (Mat 7:7)

Silence between friends doesn’t usually make me uncomfortable. When I can’t hear God clearly though, I get really uncomfortable. Fear and insecurity grab hold and questions come – have I gone deaf? Am I in sin? Have I forgotten how to pray? Did I ever really know how? Why?!?! 

Maybe I shouldn’t let the ‘silence’ become thick with fear. Maybe silence between friends is okay, and I need to remember that God and I are friends.

All three of these possible reasons for feeling spiritually insane have something in common. 
At the core of each is the question 
“Do I trust God?” 

 to be the keeper of my soul even when I doubt?
 to perfect my faith when it falls so horribly short?
 to intercede for me when I can not pray anymore?
 to be gentle with me even when this is the 47th time I’m here, struggling?
 to love me?
 to call and protect and keep all of His people – children, grandchildren, friends, family, martyrs, widows, orphans, leaders, the starving, the hopeless, the abused, the tortured, the deceived… everyone – can He reach all of His children and keep them until His return?

But here in the middle of crazy 
I have to know that these two things are true: 

First, I’ve got to know that the spiritually bi-polar feeling is okay. King David, Moses, Elijah, John and even Jesus each experienced emotions that soared and plummeted. To seek and serve our God is intense. And that’s okay. (I love that John wrote in 1Jn3:20 that "God is greater than our feelings" - it's a lifeline on crazy days.)

Second, I’ve got to know that the God I seek and serve is good and faithful and able, and that He IS love. I have to believe He will never abandon me, and that He can keep me even through the crazy. I’ve got to know that – even if it means hanging on to just one of those, and only by a thread – I’ve got to, or I may never find that new footing.

Some verses that encourage me in the grey and sad and freefall: (may they encourage you too)

“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of  trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you O LORD do not abandon those who search for you.” Psalm 9:9,10

“And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering…” Romans 8:23

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness… The Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” Romans 8: 26,27


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