And I think that's really the miracle of my mental illness... it's not that Jesus healed me; it's that Jesus forced me to rely on Him in such a way that I realized I was designed to rely on Jesus.
With 25 years of worship-leader experience, most Christians would assume Scott Box's spiritual life was rock solid, unshakable. Yet, on the inside, he was battling an undiagnosed mental health illness, Bipolar II Disorder. This might seem impossible if you believe church leaders are called to perfection, or they forever have all of life's answers on this side of heaven. But, for Scott, facing this mountain he couldn't summit, he discovered heroism--true, God-ordained heroism.
"I do remember one of the negative thoughts [in church culture] was the idea that mental illness was something really bad, especially when it came to somebody [who had] committed suicide. That was the most shameful and selfish thing a person could possibly do. There's nothing further from the truth, in my experience. When you are mentally ill, your mind is sick, and your thoughts are sick, and your actions are sick, and so there's this new understanding that I have because of my experience that helps me look back on some of the things I grew up on in a whole different light."
From this place of humility, Scott was able to redefine Christ's salvation:
"I'll just cut right to the chase, what's happened for me is this idea that Bipolar Disorder really illuminated the fact that I couldn't save myself. I was too broken. And I could never be the self-made man or self-reliant man or the hero I believed I was supposed to be. And I think that's really the miracle of my mental illness... it's not that Jesus healed me; it's that Jesus forced me to rely on Him in such a way that I realized I was designed to rely on Jesus. And then I entered into this desperate friendship with Jesus."
At the forefront of the church, a worship leader is supposed to be the face of hope and contentment. If you are centerstage singing God's greatest anthems Sunday after Sunday, surely, you are steadfast, full of hope and contentment, with each passing Monday through Saturday. Yet, there again, a fallen world holds no favorites, allowing God's boldest servants to rediscover that the avenue to contentment isn't always as easy or blissful as it seems.
"When I got diagnosed, I was like 'Oh, yes! I finally have a name for this,'" Scott explains. "But then, when it came to medication, I was very much, 'This is disgusting, I don't want it, I should be able to work myself through it.' But once my doctors said. 'Scott, just trust us. It will be as if a switch has been flipped in your life. You have to just trust us; it's going to take time, but this will help you manage. We're not promising heaven... we're promising it won't be hell anymore.' And I trusted them. I call it a 'dedication to medication.'"
However, though Scott has discovered the miracle of modern-day medication, it seems the church is behind:
"This is a massive problem in the church that they think they can pray this stuff away. I believe God has given people incredible knowledge and gifts that can create medicine, that can [reroute the] neurotransmitters in my head and connect the dots. I am still Scott Box... I have not lost Scott Box because I take medication... but now, I can be a good husband and a good father because I have a dedication to medication... You can choose a different lifestyle to address the different mind and body and spiritual health things."
For those who struggle with Bipolar II Disorder, Scott offers words of wisdom, calling those on the outside to choose their words kindly:
"For so many years, I didn't count the cost of what it would mean to follow Jesus, and part of that counting the cost is in the way I treated people, that I was gracious to people, humble myself, not egotistical... When we're talking stigmas, there [are] real things on the line. There are real emotions, real consequences when we stigmatize and we don't just treat people for the real people that they are... The ministry of Jesus is that Jesus was so adept at meeting the needs of those who were around him... This is the heroism that I'm calling people into."
"I pursued a type of heroism in my life that was a 'Frankenstein,' I call it. I was just grabbing at things. Jesus didn't define heroism by winning but by losing in the most humiliating, disgraceful way possible, and along the way, on that path to that humiliation, He flipped everything upside down by loving and serving and looking to the Father for everything. Everything He did, everything He said. This is the power of Jesus in the world, to offer help for mind, body, and spirit even when healing is an absurd impossibility."
Scott goes on to say, "Jesus propped up the weak and the broken. He came, as Scripture says, "to serve, not to be served" (Matthew 20:28). That's the type of heroism that gave meaning to my pain and helped me make sense of my life--even with a Bipolar diagnosis."
As Scott's therapist, Libby, told his wife: "It's okay to grieve the dreams you lost, but not for too long. Dream new dreams."
To check out more on Scott and his book, Heroic Disgrace, visit heroicdisgrace.com, or follow him at Heroic Disgrace on Facebook and Instagram.
Scott W. Box is the founder of the ministry, Worship Hero. Scott's mission is to change the way people understand and practice worship by providing tools to "Pursue Jesus. Reflect Jesus." as a habit leading to hope; to become heroic worshipers. Scott's a nice guy, and you'll have all the time in eternity to get to know him and go on adventures together. But first, introductions are necessary. He wants you to meet the Great Hero, Jesus Christ.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/18percentgrey
Peyton Garland is an author and coffee shop hopper who loves helping others find beauty from ashes despite OCD, burned bridges, and perfectionism. Follow her on Instagram @peytonmgarland and check out her latest book, Tired, Hungry, & Kinda Faithful, Where Exhaustion and Exile Meet God, to discover how your cup can overflow, even in dry seasons.