Red Vine Spirituality

Taylor K. Arthur balances Bipolar 1 Disorder, marriage, and motherhood with a nitty-gritty faith inspiring a twisted, blissful life.

All the Rest is Fluff: The Broken Way

Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”
Esther 4:15-16

I sat next to a friend the other night, behind the booth of Fresh Hope materials, telling her how I wish my ministry–this table–were about something else. Anything else.

“You know I can teach, right?” She nodded.

“And I went to Divinity school?” She nodded.

I told her through embarassed, glossy eyes that this was never something I would have chosen for myself.

Because, my pride is always whispering to me, what if people actually thought I was proud of this?

This sitting in this booth, this Hope for Mental Illness booth, is a coming out, you know?

Because most people would never know it to look at me. That’s what the docs say: I present well.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t.

The outing still stings, as I realize mamas and teachers I work with, whose babies I love after school until they get off work, learn my secret. And knowing what happens when people learn the truth, how they step back a step, look me over twice. How they look me over ten times. How my human flaw, justified anger, or frustration gets written off “crazy” by those who don’t want to take responsibility. How everything, in every relationship, can pivot on my dichotomy.

Friend looks at me, “I know.”

I gulp, and breathe, and eat handfuls of gluten-free, red licorice in the shape of Scottie dogs that I’ve stowed in my bag for a desperate moment.

Jack sits in the booth with me watching me gulp air and Scotties. We own these scars together in this place.

This place has become a home to our family: our church, our school, my part-time after-care job.

Most importantly? In the midst of all of this life and bustle, this place we spend 6 days a week?

This place is home to our ministry. Ours: our family’s, our marriage’s.

This place houses our broken way, lived out.

Because we weren’t called to sit inside a palace and have everyone applaud our gifts. We were called to leave the palace, get down our knees, and share.

Share to breaking, until my pride rises up in my throat.

Share broken, the meat of my life with the hungry.

And the meat of my life is this:

There is no broken place God cannot find you in.
There is no trap, no diagnosis, no sin he can’t rescue you from.
And there is no valley you can walk where He has not already been.
So come, meet with us, and we’ll find Jesus in this mess of family and mental illness and brokenness together.

This is my life, purpose-deep and tear-pricking.

I know now, gut-deep, that here broken is pure calling. All the rest is fluff.



And gluten-free red licorice Scottie dogs when it gets to be a little too much.

Read with me today in Christianity Today an excerpt from Ann Voskamp broken way‘s new book.

1 Comment

  1. Taylor: I have read several of your posts. You are an amazing servant for our Lord. My brother Stan Beckett and I visited your Fresh Hope group on April 12, 2017 after our visit to Brooklake on Sunday, April 9. I live in California but had come to visit Stan and his wife Diana after she had had back surgery. I had ask my brother several times about finding a fellowship of Christians in the Milton, WA area. I had been praying that this visit God would show me just the right group of believers that would fit their needs. The only thing I knew about Brooklake was what I had read on their website, excluding group information.. It was enough to know that I wanted to visit and see for myself. God answered my prayers beyond anything I could have hoped for. What a wonderful God we serve.
    After service I suggested to Stan that we check out the First Step booth. I told him that I believed that the size of this church they would certainly have a small group that would meet their needs. You see my sister-in-law has been diagnoised with bi-polar and several other mental conditions. We met Tina and I explained what I was looklng for in a group for them. That is when Stan and I learned about Fresh Hope for Mental Health. We attended your group the following Wednesday and had the pleasure of meeting you and your husband Jack. My brother and his wife attended the group this past Wednesday, April 26. Stan told me that Diana felt very comfortable and was encouraged when the participants told her she was not alone “they had her back”.
    Healing from the surgery was not going well and on Friday April 28, she had her third surgery in 40 days to determine why her incision was still oozing fluid. She is currently at Madigan Hospital on Fort Lewis. If possible Stan would appreciate it is some one from the group could go see them and let them know that you are praying for her complete recovery. I believe she is on the 7th floor. Stan and Diana can fill in the details for you about what has been going on. Thank you for reading my request and praying for them. i believe you have information on Stan as Tina had filled that out on our visit to the booth.

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