A glimpse at my past: Christianity, Charismatic Churches, Missionary Work and God's Calling; Part 5
I experienced the sublime in Hong Kong. Everyday was beautiful and lovely. God was paramount in my world. But then everything changed and drastically. My disorder---the same one that made me think I contracted it due to my sin----reared its ugly head.
I was faithful to pray intensely each day that I lived overseas. I was faithful to listen to God each day as well. Nevertheless, I became sick just like six years before. I had a manic episode. It was shocking. I studied God's Word even harder than I had before I accepted my teaching position. I ritualistically created a prayer "sandwich" using the book of Ephesians; and yet, I became ill.
Moreover, just prior to the outbreak of the manic episode, I encountered a dismantling emotional "holy war" between the Protestants and Catholics at ICS. I had seven Catholic students and a Catholic principal. Everyone else at ICS was Protestant. One Catholic student was strongly picked on. He would come to my room during his lunch period and my planning period because of the daily abuse. We would talk and he would argue Catholic apologetics. I knew nothing about Catholicism except that I lived around many, many Catholics when I grew up in Kansas.
I have to say that that daily experience helped catapult me into a crisis of faith. ICS stressed that my Bible Doctrine class was to be from a Protestant perspective. I was so naive I thought that must be the "end all to be all" perspective. However, I would learn in the following years that it was just ONE view. There were many other view points about God and Christianity.
So, what ultimately happened was that my meds got messed up due to a non-translation of dosages between the U.S. and Hong Kong. I was reeling about the heart breaking "holy war" between my students and the board. And my brain went berserk shortly after Christmas because I forgot to take my drugs when I took a brief holiday trip to an outlying island.
But before the circuits in my mind went into total overdrive, I had one last amazing spiritual experience.
My brain raced as I sat in a contemplative state overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I listened intently to Steven Curtis Chapman sing about being up on the mountain. It was as though Chapman was singing directly to my heart. I knew I was getting ready to enter a "valley experience." I was deeply sad but concretely accepting of that "valley." This was God's call for me. I was going to live through something that elicited horrible amounts of disgrace and shame. I was going to live through the devastation of returning home from my dream in a similar fashion to how Vietnam vets returned from their very confusing war.
A lot of people rode my coattails to Hong Kong. When I failed to return to the United States healthy and a missionary, those same people felt great disappointment. My shame and disgrace were magnified by this coattail factor. It would take me years to heal from this.
Furthermore, my headmaster acted quite meanly toward me. After my hospitalization, I remained in Hong Kong for about a month. My headmaster called me stupid for screwing up my meds. I was damaged inside. My fragility was incredible. He was supposed to be a Christian that exemplified the institution he ran. He was self-centered and cold.
Shortly thereafter his cutting words, I returned to the U.S. and lived with my mother in Kansas. Often, I would write my friends (and colleagues) at ICS. Each day, ICS had a devotional period before school. People would offer prayer requests. So, I would ask for prayers. My headmaster wrote me one day and told me I could pray where I lived. He did this because his fundraising capability was being infringed upon by my MENTAL illness. But I didn't perceive this until much later. Rather, at the time, I perceived disgrace and I experienced amazing amounts of mental anguish. I began to hate myself but I hung on to Jesus with all my might.
My mom would constantly say, "Let go and let God." I didn't know how to make sense of any of it. What was I supposed to let go of? I had no idea.