Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
Plants do strength training, did you know that? I would not have believed it except recently I watched a plant lift weights.
Many of its leaves are a foot and a half long and as much as nine inches wide. Thick and leathery, most of the time they reach up and out like proud flags in the wind. If too much time goes between watering, sheer weight pulls them to the ground. Long before any signs of dryness like brownish coloring for example shows, these bright green beauties droop to the floor.
On this day, as if in a wrestling competition, a chair held one of the larger leaves locked under its arm. Another stem helplessly bent in the middle at a 90 degree angle. Random leaves piled like football players after a tackle. It appeared impossible this plant could untangle.
I watered it and for an hour and a half kept vigil, figuring something visible to the eye had to occur soon. Ever watch a plant for an extended period? About fifteen minutes in, I was pondering the fascination of drying paint. Then I heard a “pop” come from within the dense foliage.
The stems drank and regained their strength. One by one they escaped the death-grip of the chair and pile-up. Yet only a few times did I see movement! It was as if what was out-of-place was restoring itself in secret. What, did I blink?
Why Would Anyone Watch a Plant?
What you do not know is that discouragement was ruling my morning. I slumped into the couch. A few minutes later I reached out to my Heavenly Father and sighed. “I wish I could see you.”
The Bible teaches that God reveals himself, in part, through his creation. Nature. That is why I watched the plant – because I needed to feel him more tangibly beside me. I wanted to see God at work.
Restoration is an Inside Job
Gazing at the now plush and vivacious plant, bearing no evidence of its struggle, I asked God, “What does this mean?” That is when I recognized there is a key to a plant’s subtle revival, and to recovery from major depression or from anything else. That key is life-giving water.
I too had once been wilted, hopeless for change. Life-giving water God provided to me came mostly through highly trained mental health professionals. Observing at any given point in the process, someone on the outside may have seen a helpless mess.
They would have been wrong. I was in strength training, and soaking up the hope and life lessons I needed to thrive.
You Have Life to Give
A quote I saw on Facebook reads, “Don’t judge my story by the chapter you see.” Encouragement, kindness, tenderness – these are life-giving water to people in emotional pain. If I’d told my plant to just snap out of it, it would be dead.
In the same way, next time you see a person who appears wilted and beyond hope, remember you cannot see the miracle muscle-building happening underneath the surface. Offer water. Speak life.
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or 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 is yours.