Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden
The young assistant peered over my face in worry. “We thought we lost you!” she said.
It was 1985, and people were reviving me following dental surgery. For four years I had ignored an abscessed tooth, eating on one side of my mouth until I couldn’t close it at all. Fear of dentists had overpowered any thought of looking for a solution to this problem. Instead, I had begged God to heal it.
Tears ran down my cheeks as I scheduled an appointment. The aforementioned assistant had tried to calm me over the phone. Even as I pulled up to the building, I was pleading with God to take the pain away. Instead, I fell into a deep sleep under anesthesia.
I felt I was rising and looking down on a body surrounded by people. I believed God was talking with me in a very blue and perfectly peaceful place. He allowed me to stay for a few moments and then said, “You have to go back.”
Seeing the young woman below me, I said, “Do I have to be in her?”
Sensing her inner torment, I said, “I don’t want to go – she’s in so much pain!”
“It is just for a short time, then you will be with me forever.” The gentle voice was comforting.
I recall feeling distinct unhappiness as I opened my eyes behind hers. Confusion also led me to implore several times, “Is this real?” I didn’t recognize the assistant or even my husband right away.
This experience was perhaps the first of several visions God has blessed me with over the years. Some have been warnings, others have prepared me for specific events, and all have testified to God’s tender, unfailing love.
This one had been unique in that I felt pain’s absence for a few moments. If there is anything I’ve always wanted, it is peace.
Five years ago today, major depression had hammered away for months at any reasons I may have held for living. In one last blow, it managed to convince me God wanted me to die. As a committed Christian, I did not want to dishonor my Heavenly Father, so irrationally, I asked for his permission for suicide. Remembering that decades-old vision, I said, “Please, God. Is it time?”
My fractured mind said, “Yes, it’s okay. Come home.”
Peace came over me, and tremendous relief. It would soon be over – all the fear. guilt, loneliness, aching, longing, and despair would pass. The future held the promises of security and love for eternity with Christ. Finally, I would be with him!
That is when I died.
Once in the hospital, my body was breathing, talking, eating, walking, smiling, and even laughing. My entire being was worn out from interacting with the women whose job it was to keep an eye on me around the clock.
Nevertheless, I was dead.
Little did I know this utter emptiness of life was the catalyst for the healing of my mind, body, and spirit. By taking tiny steps toward learning how to stay alive, new ways to think, act, and believe eventually changed my worldview. The process of dying to old ideas and false core beliefs restarted my life. Even backward steps have not been enough to ruin my enriched sense of worth.
From fear of a dentist’s chair to losing my will to live, suffering ultimately led to true answers. In both scenarios, by following the process of healing, I witnessed the profoundness of Christ’s inexplicable peace. Five years ago today, several people tried to promise me I still had reason to live. Wrapped in fear and sorrow, I didn’t believe that pain had a purpose.
I was wrong.
Comments are always welcome (see tab below). NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.