Yesterday during church, the microphone in front of the kick drum fell off the stage. I want to be clear: the microphone was turned on in the sound system and crashed onto a polished concrete floor while a couple hundred people were singing. Specifically, I was the one leading the singing at Shiloh Ranch Church in Powell Butte, Oregon. And I was the one who knocked the microphone off the platform—whoopsies and grrrrrrr.
You see, occasionally, I’ll put a kick drum in front of me to play while singing and strumming the guitar at the same time. To non-musicians, that might sound like a fantastic feat. I suppose it is a cool parlor trick at some level. Still, in my experience, each time I finish the song I am playing with the kick drum, I am deeply relieved that I didn’t train wreck the music, become a terrible distraction or fall over because I lost my balance—the leg I’m leaning against always gets terribly shaky toward the end of the song.
Additionally, when an unforeseen distraction occurs as I’m stretched to my musical limit—like the microphone incident—I have a minimal threshold to address the distraction with grace. Yesterday, I suspect the “sonic boom” that bounced around the sanctuary startled everyone except older folks who had turned their hearing aids off. And wow, did it scare me! I hadn’t anticipated the mic would rattle off the platform. And there was no way to hide what had happened. People’s eyes could see the problem, and the ringing in their ears left no doubt. The good news was that I quickly processed the culprit of the loud bang and continued to lead the worship song without stopping. But I did send a loud, goofy giggle of recognition through my microphone. By God’s grace, I held it together enough not to blurt out my historical go-to, “&$#@!!!”—cough—that would have provided an additional and memorable distraction. Further, no one fainted in fright or died of a heart attack from the loud noise, so this was a win.
I realize it may not land with everyone, but being diagnosed with bipolar disorder was a bit like a drum mic doing a face plant onto a concrete floor in front of a big crowd of people who were at least partially focused on me (a reality of being a person up on a platform, even in a church). My diagnosis took a year, but it came on the heels of a few public expressions of symptomatic behavior. Regardless, the reality of the life changes and maturity I would have to achieve hit my wife, Kariann, and me hard. Think about your experience with your mental diagnosis, your family member’s or your friend’s. Diagnosis or bad behavior generally occurs at inopportune times. There are exceptions, but even things done in private are eventually exposed publicly, which often results in (significant) discomfort and embarrassment. Sure, we know that people aren’t thinking about us always. They’re thinking about themselves, mostly. But people are drawn to drama. In my experience, when I provided the bipolar drama, others had no problem looking out from behind their curtains to take a peek at my life before going back to thinking about themselves. It’s the nature of the mic drop—it gets people’s attention. That’s normal. When there’s a big freakin’ “boom,” I look, too. I understand.
So years ago, when the bipolar “microphone hit the ground” in my life, I knew I gave a community of people I wanted to impress a look into an area I thought made me weak and dirty. And while that is partially true, it’s not the complete truth. My bipolar disorder has made me strong. Managing bipolar has made my marriage better, not worse because bipolar disorder has drawn me (and my wife, Kariann) into desperate dependence on Jesus Christ. In this way, learning how to become healthy and manage bipolar disorder in private has proven to have very public results. And this is a glorious thing, in my opinion. So rather than pretend like others can’t see or don’t care about our bipolar adventures, Kariann and I decided to put our lives on display, not because we are perfect, but because Jesus has made us healthy despite not healing me. And that’s the point.
Even after the “bipolar mic” dived into my life, we didn’t give up on each other—I’m so thankful Kariann didn’t give on on me or her faithfulness to Jesus. The song of our life has continued. We keep playing the drum and singing the lyrics. And the beat goes on. Yes, there have been plenty of frustrated cussing and questioning God moments over the years, but there has been so much more laughing, love, joy, and peace; so much Jesus. I look forward to sharing more about the Box family’s journey in the months ahead.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this. Yesterday, after the microphone hit the ground, my friend, Shiloh Ranch’s lead pastor, Joe Pearson, rushed to the platform, lifted and repositioned the mic. Immediately, the sanctuary was filled with the rich, low-end sound of the kick drum again. I thank God Joe wasn’t afraid of being associated with me anymore because I dropped the mic. I thank God that Joe wasn’t nervous about stepping out in front of many people to help me. Joe was willing to help set things right even after an event that would make a great video on the “Worship Fails” YouTube channel. And that’s a good friend. That’s a good church. That’s the heartbeat of the life of salvation and restoration. And, yep, we get to do it together. We must.
Kariann was the primary person who helped me understand that God intended to put our journey to health on display. But there have been many others, too. In this ministry application, I do not have to imagine the extraordinary community and friendships a person will build in the Fresh Hope network. Because Jesus is in charge of the whole enterprise, we can expect our relationships with one another within Fresh Hope to be like pastor Joe was to me yesterday at Shiloh Ranch Church, like Kariann has been to me for twenty-five years of marriage and like Jesus has always been. Expect the exceptional. Expect the miraculous. Expect Jesus to save the day every day. Then, tell your story to tell Jesus’ story. Figurative, “mic drop.” —S
Scott and Kariann Box live in Redmond, Oregon. Scott serves as Pastor of Development at Shiloh Ranch Church and has been a worship leader for over twenty-five years. Kariann works as a Realtor in Central Oregon and supports Scott’s…creative spirit. They have two children, a one-hundred-pound Labradoodle and a four-pound Shih Tzu without teeth. Scott is the author of HEROIC DISGRACE: Order out of chaos. Hope out of fear. ― A Worship Hero Story