Red Vine Spirituality

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

Breathe 2016

When you feel like you’ve been in a dead sprint for quite sometime, maybe this is the year to breathe.

Happy New Year, Red Vine Family. I realize that it’s February 5th: a whole thirty-six days after the New Year.

I’m learning as I run this race that my creative can’t be stuffed into a little square on the calendar. Creative needs time to run. She needs time to breathe, to feel the wind, to sift out her feelings and mix in experience. I can’t rush her. I can’t schedule her. So, instead, I let her decompress after Christmas, and I let her settle into a new year and a new word and new set of expectations.

As I prayed for a word for 2016, there were many words that came to mind: many active, forward-thinking words. But after a year of sprinting, after a year of following after Jesus so whole-heartedly and so blindly, I felt exhausted. I don’t think I have ever taken more blind walks off cliffs as I did in 2015. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared, so nervous, so alone, as I was in 2015. And, yet, I am realizing that this walk in darkness, with only His hand to guide me, is right where I have needed to be.

I ran a good race in 2015. I ran toward the finish line. I ran hard, listening to Need to Breathe’s Brother as my inspiration,

Brother, let me be your shelter
Never leave you all alone
I can be the one to call when you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving’ on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

and Third Day’s Soul on Fire:

God, I’m running for your heart
I’m running for your heart
til I am a soul on fire
Lord, I’m longing for your ways
I’m waiting for the day
When I’m a soul on fire
Til I am a soul on fire . . .
In the darkness lead me through
Until all I see is you . . .

And I didn’t run. I mean, I ran my heart out. But my running was sitting. A lot of sitting. Sitting and typing with these words blasting through my headphones straight into me. I sat in Starbucks and Panera, with my laptop and my headphones.

I listened to Need to Breathe’s Wasteland

. . . There was a greatness I felt for awhile
But somehow it changed
Some kind of blindness I used to protect me
from all of my stains
I wish this were vertigo
It just feels like I’m falling slow
If God who is on my side
then who can be against me?
In this Wasteland where I’m living
There is a crack in the door filled with light
And it’s all that I need to get by
In this wasteland where I’m living
There is a crack in the door filled with light
And it’s all that I need to shine . . .
If God is on my side,
If God is on my side,
If God is on my side, who can be against me?

I walked into a writing class and sat down at a table full of strangers. I joined a critique group, holding this precious book of mine up to the light and letting in criticism. I sat there and I took the critique. And they–these strangers–turned into dear friends. These friends hold my story dear and they treat it kindly, gently. And they believe in these pages becoming a book.

Even with that support and belief, I still struggled with fear. It was one thing to pound out words on this little blog. It was another thing to step into the Christian world with BIPOLAR carved into my forehead. Moving through this fear was like wading through neck-deep water. I was so paralyzed I almost cancelled my trip to She Speaks this summer.

But right before I left, I sat next to Jack on a Sunday morning and listened to Pastor Scott talk about Gideon (Judges 6-8). I’d forgotten that God found Gideon, the warrior who would go on to defeat the Midianites through the power of God alone, hiding in a wine press. And even after God spoke to Him directly, calling him a mighty warrior, Gideon tested God. He questioned God and God kept answering Him, kept proving Himself, until there was nothing left for Gideon to do but obey God. Pastor Scott reminded me that God can use our deepest insecurities to display His great strength. The very thing we believe disqualifies us qualifies us for our greatest work.

The worship band played this song by Bethel Music, No Longer Slaves, and I stood that day and knew that God was speaking to me. It was time.

You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
Until all my fears are gone

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into a family
Your blood flows through my veins

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God . . .

I am surrounded by the arms of the father
I am surrounded by songs of deliverance
We’ve been liberated from our bondage
We’re the sons and daughters
Let us sing of our freedom

You split the sea so I could walk right through it
My fears are drowned in perfect love
You’ve rescued me so that I can stand and say
I am a child of God.

I decided that day, standing with my hands raised in the air, worshipping God from my wine press, that if Gideon could step out, so could I. It was time to engrave BIPOLAR on my forehead. It was time to let God use it. So, after a pretty significant freak out several days before I had to leave, I got on that plane. And I went around talking to Christian women at a Christian conference on the other end of the country about how I went crazy my senior year in college. I told them how by God’s grace alone I am still alive and still married to the love of my life and I am a mama. I became known during the conference of 800 women as the bipolar lady in the red dress. Yes, yes. The bipolar lady in the red dress.

It wasn’t clear to me why I went. And it was so hard. But he brought the right people in the right moments. And I got to meet Lisa Jo Baker. Yes I did.

I went home. I sent in a proposal. I am still waiting.

Today, I’m sitting on the couch typing on this laptop, salvific words and rhythm blasting into my ears, my head, and my heart. This music continues to light the way.

All of a sudden–somewhere–in the running, in the being led even though it felt like I was just getting lost, I’ve found my way. I see the path.

Through a year of sprinting, I learned one undeniable, amazing truth that I have known all along but never lived wholly. Finally, this truth is tied into the marrow of my being:

He leads me. And I can rest.

When I sit in a crowd of 6,000 women, He finds me.

When I don’t know where to go next with my book, He directs me.

When I’m headed in the wrong direction, He closes doors.

When I feel the tug to follow Him across the country, when I am alone and overcome with fear, He provides friends to pray over me and encourage me.

When I see a tweet from HealthyPlace about applying to write for their blogs, I blindly send an email. My platform of 4,000 grows overnight to 1 million.

When I gather up the courage to volunteer to lead a small group for families in my church dealing with mental illness, I’m asked to speak. My first public speech, Shameless: Living Free with Bipolar Disorder, will be on February 17th at Brooklake Church in Federal Way, WA at 6:45 in the evening. Y’all are welcome. I’d love to see your faces, each and every one of you.

‘Cause this daughter’s no longer a slave to fear, and she can follow her God through the dark, because there’s always a crack of light to keep her going. And I’m going to run after Jesus and I’m going to rest in His sovereignty. I’m going to run and write and speak my heart out for all of my brothers and sisters who still believe the lie that they are not worthy because their heads are sick.

And, as in any deliverance, in any birthing, I am going to breathe in 2016. I am going to breathe in grace and strength from my source, Jesus. Job said of our Creator, our Friend, our Source,

The spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life
. Job 33:4

So, come Holy Spirit. Come, Breath of Life. Fill me through and through.
So I can run for you.

Breathing in 2016,
Praising His Sovereign Name,
Taylor

5 Comments

  1. I’m grateful to say I got to meet you, “The bipolar lady in the red dress” at the conference last summer. For me, it was an immediate connection even though we didn’t know one another and still really don’t. Except, I do feel like I get you, that I know you on some intimate level! I appreciate your down-in-the-dirt honesty! It’s was changes people and it’s what inspires me to be honest with myself and others. I always look forward to reading your posts Taylor!

    • Thank you so much Laura! I think about your presentation in our speech group every day. It helps me remember that life is as much a breathing exercise as it is a race. The work you are doing is so important. Maybe we can go to another conference together and pick up where we left off…bless you, friend!

  2. Thank you SO much for this post! I was diagnosed with Biploar II about 3 years ago, I have been untreated the entire time (except for the first 6 mths months or so). Now that I’ve accepted it, I am facing the fear of the unknown…and to say the least it’s VERY scary. Meds, manic episodes, super low days, my family and friends knowing about this. Yikes! The stigma of it all is so real, unfortunately. I feel like my “Hey this girl is Bipolar sign is flashing on my forehead at all times! Thankfully my Husband reminds me that it’s not! :)And thankfully my relationship with God is helping me cope (and my therapist and Hubby) BUT I’m still struggling. I really appreciate your candor, I wish that I could fly to WA to hear you speak. Will it be recorded or is there a live stream that I could view? Thanks again, Bless you dear heart!

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