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GUEST POST: Turning a “Shaft” into a Mine by James Watkins (@jameswatkinscom)

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I’ve had the pleasure of working with James Watkins, a legend in the Christian writing community. He has a heart for God and people, with a dose of humor and a twist of lemon. He’s full of hope and humor, wit and wisdom, and my favorite: he calls himself a “threat to society.” So I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from James Watkins, not only because of who he is, but because of the topic. He speaks openly about mental illness, which is close to my heart because I have bipolar disorder. But mental illness doesn’t stop him. Instead of feeling like life has given him the shaft, he’s turning that shaft into a mine.

Whee! Just like in Indiana Jones.

Turn Your “Shaft” into a Mine

by James Watkins

Did you see all those commercials before Valentines Day trumpeting Le Vian’s “unique chocolate diamonds”?

The only problem is that brown diamonds are the most common and least valued for jewelry. (The most valuable are white and blue.) So, for centuries, brown diamonds were used only for industrial purposes. Then the Le Vian family decided on a creative marketing strategy. Instead of calling them ubiquitous and virtually useless brown chunks of compressed coal, they hyped them as “Chocolate Diamonds.” Everyone loves chocolate! And Le Vian family has been making a whole mine of money selling them!

Or maybe you have seen the ads for Snyders of Hanover’s “Flavored Pretzel Pieces.” The TV ad claims that they contain so much “intense flavor” that no one can eat a whole pretzel. Another genius marketing plan! They’re selling off the broken pieces from the pretzel line.

Kellogg’s did the same thing with “Corn Flake Crumbs.” I worked at the cereal company four summers while I was in college. One night, I worked the corn flakes line. (There is nothing better than hot, crisp corn flakes right from the oven.) But what do you do with all the broken flakes? You install a giant vacuum over the line with the suction carefully calculated to suck up crumbs and dust, but not the whole flakes. Voila! Corn Flake Crumbs!

What once were considered rejects, scraps, damaged goods fit only for the dumpster, are now proudly marketed as something truly wonderful. (You know where this is going, don’t you?)

Just a plain brown diamond.

What in your life is a brown diamond? A broken pretzel? A Corn flake crumb?

We all have areas in our lives that are not perfect, investment-quality Grade-A Fancy. But often our weaknesses turn into our strengths, our failures into our successes, and our worthlessness into our greatest value. The apostle Paul writes:

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Does this mean the mine is mine?

How can you turn what appears to be a dark, cold “shaft” into a diamond mine?

I actually score over 100 on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder scale (150 and under is still “high functioning”). But I have managed to turn “quirky” into creative. I’ve used my clinical depression as motivation to write with hope and humor. And my OCD seems to balance out my ADD, so I am extremely organized and, thus, extremely productive: over 30 books, 2,000 articles and hundreds of blog posts, along with hundreds of speaking engagements. (I don’t suffer from mental illness, I thoroughly enjoy it! And I think my readers do as well.)

So, how about you? How can you turn dinosaur doodoo into “chocolate” diamonds?

Dinosaur poop?

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

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Thanks so much for the support and encouragement in my honesty about my own mental health issues. However, a good friend loving emailed me to say, basically, “Don’t call yourself—a creation of God—mentally ill.” I so appreciate that, but one of my “hope and humor” goals is to educate the church on mental health issues affecting God’s creations.

Telling someone with depression to get off anti-depressants and “just have a positive attitude” is like telling someone with high blood pressure to get off their meds and “just think lower BP thoughts.” Those “voices” probably need Haldol rather than an exorcism. And someone born with a propensity to addictive behaviors needs support and encouragement rather than condemnation. It’s often bio-chemical imbalances not sinfulness.

If we have cancer, the whole church will rally behind us. If we have schizophrenia, most of the church will stay clear of us. But mental illness is not a “spiritual” issue any more than a broken leg is a sign of lack of faith. We live in a fallen world that causes brokenness physically, socially, spiritually . . . and mentally. Help is available, so see a licensed professional if you’re struggling with mental health issues. And find a Christian group or a trusted friend from whom you can receive prayer, support and accountability. Prozac and prayer is a powerful combination!

Copyright 2015 James N. Watkins

Used by permission. Feel free to forward this post or use it on your site. Just be sure to include the copyright notice above. Thanks!



Find James Watkins on Twitter.You can connect with James Watkins on Twitter (@jameswatkinscom) or on his website: Also, check out a couple of his books, below.



Squeezing Good Out of Bad: 10 Ways to Squeeze Good Out of Those Lemon of a Life, Lip Puckering, Time Sucking Situations (Christian Devotionals for Women and Men)

James N. Watkins

Available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions.

Squeezing Good Out of Bad: Top ten ways to not only survive but thrive with a lemon-fresh attitude as you face those lemon juice in the eye, life-puckering problems. The author has had his share of sour fruit (cancer, unemployment, depression, chronic nose hair) but provides a humorous look at the problems of life. Learn how to find hope and humor amidst horrific circumstances.



Jesus: His Life and Lessons

James N. Watkins

Available from Amazon for Kindle.

Discover the life and lessons of Jesus. This user-friendly book arranges His life in chronological order and His teachings arranged by topics. And for good measure, a glossary to make it even easier to explore the gospels. No commentary, no doctrinal states, just 100% Jesus.




  1. James Watkins

    August 10, 2015

    Post a Reply

    I’m honored that you reprinted my post. And thank you for spreading the news that “mental” illness is not a sign of “spiritual” any more than a “physical” illness is symptomatic of a problem in our relationship with God. Keep spreading that hope, Christy!

    • Christy

      August 10, 2015

      Post a Reply

      Actually, thank YOU, Mr. Watkins, for allowing me to share your post. I’m glad you stopped by to see it. Blessings to you!

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