By Rena Mammen
Name withheld to protect the author
By Darryl S. Duncan
By Anne Louise Antonoff & Catherine Gortner

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By Rena Mammen
(c) 2000 Rena Mammen, all rights reserved

There's a place up a yonder,
With Pearl Gates and Golden Streets.
Dear Jesus...I'd love to meet you there!*

Moses, Noah, King David, you followed God's footsteps...
Your reward was the greatest ever given!!!
The time is drawing near, to see Your shining face...
Dear Jesus...I'd love to meet You there!*

No words can describe Your Heavenly Presence.
Your Book of Life is filled with the names of Your children.
You became sin for us, You went back to heaven...
Dear Jesus...I'd love to meet You there!*

If You could take the pain,
the heartache that it brings,
I know I will lay down my life for You!
There's a place up a yonder,
With Pearl Gates and Golden Streets.
Dear Jesus...I've seen You there!!!*

* * * * * * * *

Name withheld to protect the author

Dear Friends,

Catherine asked me to consider putting an e-mail into the newsletter
that I had written to her a few days ago after reading Neil
Anderson's "Victory over Darkness." Though I initially agreed, after
some thought I began to change my mind, not because I didn't want to
reveal my personal struggle - how else can we testify to God's
strength in our lives if we don't confess our weakness? - but rather
because there was too much to explain.

But if you will indulge me for a bit of background, perhaps my e-mail
will be of some interest to someone after all, less for the personal
details than for how Anderson's book helped me discern Christ's
purpose in what otherwise seemed like needless pain. So let me just
say that my struggle concerns what doctors have thought might be
bipolar depression but may, as it turns out, simply be an extreme
and episodic form of PMS leading me to experience bouts of paranoia.
Under conditions of stress, the endocrine system can interact with
brain chemistry in remarkable ways. On the other hand, I might have
both the underlying illness of bipolar depression and the additional
endocrine disorder. Not knowing what, exactly, is wrong or how to
fix it medically has caused a great deal of disruption and anxiety in
my life. It has caused two brief hospitalizations, one seven years
ago and a briefer one this summer.

Apart from the medical uncertainty, I have been burdened with the
mystery of trying to know exactly what happened during an apparent
relapse that occurred while I was back on campus (I'm a graduate
student) about six months after my first hospitalization. I began
noticing that bizarre events were occurring in my presence, in the
fashion of street theater but involving students at places like the
entrance to the library when I was entering or leaving, as if
orchestrated to make an impression on me.

The theme always seemed to be my state of mind. There was even a
time when a car that I know belonged to one of the "culprits" drove
by me playing Madonna's "Borderline" - specifically playing the part
where she sings. "... Feels like I'm going to lose my mind..." I
knew the identities of some of the people involved, but not the
motives. And it hurt me deeply that people were in some way
exploiting my tendency to paranoia, without having the honesty to
tell me to my face what they wanted to say to me. I felt exposed and
humiliated and harassed. I have been struggling ever since with what
seems to be a form of post-traumatic stress syndrome, such that an
apparent recurrence of the circumstances in which I experienced the
strange episodes can induce new crises of anxiety and depression.

For years I tried to forget about the campus nightmare, but without
success; and this past spring, as I contemplated leaving the
university to finish my dissertation elsewhere, I realized that I
deeply wanted an accounting, perhaps even an apology, but at the very
least an explanation. Later in the summer, I set out to work on a
project with someone quite prominent who happened to have been
involved, but found I could not do so without first resolving exactly
what his role had been. So I started thinking very hard about the
events of 1994. And when I tried to follow the threads, I found
myself plunging back into the darkness of my original hospitalization
in 1993, having completely overshot the mark of the campus episodes.

Why did this new crisis happen? Doctors could point to a convergence
of physical circumstances and environmental triggers, including the
renewed interaction with the person in question. I began reexamining
my memory of his role because I didn't know if it was "safe" to renew
the relationship now. I wanted to predict what might happen based on
a better understanding of what had occurred. But I know in my heart
that I had a choice of whether to pursue this line of thought at all, and
that I willingly took the risk of a relapse because I felt strong enough
on my own to confront the darkness. I ignored the warning signs that
I had already begun the descent into paranoia. I thought I could figure
it all out, through sheer intelligence. But I was wrong.
I didn't know how wrong I was until I read Anderson's book. Here's
what I wrote to Catherine just a few days ago:

[begin quote]

"Dear Catherine,

"The Anderson book arrived this afternoon. I just read the last half
of it, starting with the chapter on "winning the battle for the mind"
(Ch. 9), and I can't tell you how much peace it has given me just to
read it. I think more than anything else he wrote I appreciate the
fundamental truth that our emotions are the product of how we
perceive an event, not just the event itself. So just because
something triggered a bad experience seven years ago does NOT mean
that it must do so every time we think about it or every time we
experience a similar event in the future. I am FREE of the turbulent
response to a trigger if I can catch myself in the "first frame" and
remind myself of how I have grown since my last experience, grown
especially in Christ.

"Going through the experience the first time made me a different,
deeper person, as I recall; it brought me closer to God and really
woke me up to my complete dependence on Him. It was terribly foolish
of me, I now realize, to have let myself forget that "New Testament"
half of my experience seven years ago. Even more so to let myself
forget the truth of my experience six years ago, when I had a relapse
on campus and found that I had to forgive people I could not exactly
identify for things that I could not precisely perceive at the time.
That was a tremendous step forward in Christ, and surely it was
sinful of me this summer to have let myself concentrate on reliving
the fleshly, earthly mystery of what brought me to the hospital or
what plunged me into paranoia again rather than on the
incontrovertible simple truth of what brought me out of it, i.e.,
God, Christ, and the Spirit. (How odd, I suppose, to say emotions and
thoughts are fleshly and earthly, but in a spiritual sense they are.)

"So the next time I start to feel paranoid, or even turbulent to some
degree, with racing thoughts, I must remind myself of what, after
all, I most need at that moment: the trigger to peace, in every
sense. And that's the memory of what saved me. I went to the hospital
for one basic reason, underneath (or surmounting) all the medical
blather: to be saved by God. If I hadn't been there, I wouldn't have
felt the need to throw myself on His mercy and ask for His help. I
would have been safely ensconced in my ivory-tower apartment,
surrounded by books and suffused with intellectual arrogance, deluded
into thinking that my brain was all mine, and that my thoughts were
my personal playground. My mind is really not all mine; it's as much
of a temple as my body is, and purity is just as important in the one
as in the other.

"Looking back, I realize that my paranoia last month was not just a
product of unresolved conflicts, correct as Anderson is in
identifying such conflicts as "strongholds" where Satan can rule.
Rather, it was also the product of my intellectual arrogance, my
determination to "figure it all out." It's fine to do that when we do
our figuring in the power of Christ; but I committed a basic sin, I
really opened the door wide to Satan, when I decided to do all the
figuring on the basis of my experience BEFORE being saved in the
hospital. I thought I could figure things out for myself and count
God out of the picture. So of course all my body chemistry was
instantly at the disposal of this pernicious process, with
predictably dire results. And why did I have to be hospitalized a
second time? Because I hadn't learned my lesson the first time. I was
saved in 1993; but I wasn't fully conscious of it until the second
experience this summer.

"Only now, with the second experience, did I gain the spiritual
perspective to look back and affirm what the truth was. I even
vaguely realized this the first night that I was in the hospital this
time, but I didn't have the spiritual strength to know what to do
with the realization. Anderson was so right when he says that
sanctification is a long process, not something that happens
overnight. I think some of us have to get dropped on the head more
than once to get the message!

"The other thing I wanted to tell you is that I now understand why I
want to be a professor: it's precisely so that I can be available as
a counselor -- a Christian counselor, not a medical one -- to
students and colleagues, as well as an instructor and scholar. I can
instruct all by myself, by writing books; but unless I am in a
university I will not be making myself available in discipleship as
well. Some day, perhaps when I retire (!) I look forward to working
in the field of counseling and discipleship among those who are
mentally ill; I strongly believe that this will be my ministry.

"Perhaps I can start to do that by working with people who are
suffering self-doubt and stress in a university setting. That's not
to say that I would promise "professional" counseling and therapy; of
course not. But I strongly believe that our chaplaincies, of various
denominations, have a role to play in helping students and professors
connect their spiritual, intellectual and emotional lives in a
working harmony. So often these dimensions seem set in opposition to
one another. The challenge for me, in my personal life, is to make
them truly cooperative, and I am convinced that this should also be
the goal of our chaplaincies, whether through arranging, say,
Christian counseling for people suffering academic stress (how often
do we forget as students that God doesn't care whether we get honors?
and that we may not be allowing the Spirit to inspire us to do our
best if we are bottled up with other conflicts?), or helping to
coordinate retreats, or whatever.

"It's not just students who need the help; academia can take a severe
toll on professors who believe they are not measuring up to their
early promise, or think they have failed in some way, or have
succumbed to alcoholism or drugs under the stress of publicity and

"I feel so strongly about this since I got out of the hospital last
month that I must believe that's why I had to go there this time: to
learn to walk in Christ, as Anderson puts it. I believed I had a role
to play in securing better mental health access for students on
campus even just after my experience seven years ago. But now, having
been blessed with a rapid recovery while talking with my friends at
the hospital this summer who are struggling with career and life
crises as a result of their illnesses, I have a much better
understanding of the need to help people revive their ambition when
they have been knocked sideways by illness; and how better to help
them repair their sense of self-worth than through Christ?

"Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how excited I was to read this very
simple yet profound little book and how it really clicked with what's
been going on in my life."

[end quote]

On reflection, I have little to add except to reiterate how valuable
the book really is, particularly when one's mind is filled with
trouble and one wants a plain-spoken, gentle guide to truth rather
than a dense philosophical text. Anderson writes in Christ, and his
love for others stands out in every sentence. He is a man devoted to
ministry, and each of his readers will be blessed for encountering
him. If any of you is struggling with depression or some other form
mental illness, even a period of grief that seems like clinical
depression, then I pray that you will find in it the peace and strength
that God has given me and that none of us forgets to lean on Him in
bad times as well as in good.

To learn more about this book (ISBN 0830713751):

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By Darryl S. Duncan
(c) 2000 Darryl S. Duncan, all rights reserved
I Pray
Please email your thoughts about the song to Darryl at:


Verse 1
How do I ease the pain?
How do I stop the rain?
How does God hear my soul?
How does He work inside my life to make me whole?

When you never seem to find the peace inside of you..
When all hope seems gone, there's one thing I can do

I bow down and Pray, I Pray, I Pray, I Pray, I Pray, I Pray everyday, I Pray
I Pray, I Pray, I Pray, I Pray, and suddenly all of my hurt goes away.

Verse 2
Never feel lost or alone
God's got a speakerphone and it's always on
Don't wait until you are in need
Come to him often and make it routine

Change 2
When I feel the world is closing in on me
I put my hands together and drop down on my knees
And I pray

Chorus 2
I Pray, I Pray, I Pray, I Pray, I Pray everyday, I Pray
I Pray, I Pray, I Pray, I Pray, and suddenly all of my hurt

All of my pain, all of my worries, everything
It goes away when I pray it goes away, when I pray

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By Anne Louise Antonoff & Catherine Gortner
(c) 2000 Anne Louise Antonoff & Catherine Gortner, all rights reserved

God made mountains
Steady testaments
To unshakeable peace
God made forests
Garrisons of hope

God made stars
A twinkling canopy
Lulling us to wonder
God made wind
Caressing and refreshing

God made grass
Soft embracing cushion
Verdant canvas for life
God made flowers
Vibrant bouquets of color

God made birds
Flashing wings of beauty
They sing with their mate
They sing without their mate
They just sing

God made man
Times tired
Times inspired
Times of taking and giving
Time of strain, pain, then gain

God made rest, blessed

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Except where otherwise noted, (c) copyright 1999-2001 Destiny Music, Inc. All rights reserved