Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
For one year now I have introduced myself as a Mental Health and Recovery Advocate. According to a few extreme responses, “advocate” means I must stand for every psychology-based feel-good whimsy, willing to sacrifice my Christian faith in the process.
The background and perceptions of those who think that way are unclear. Let’s face it. Old ideas and stigmas die hard. I too am influenced by both informed and uninformed messengers of qualified truth. There have been serious inner struggles over whether I am doing the right thing and advocating for the right thing.
Each time though, I land on one important point. People need hope, and judgment never meets that need.
Psychology is the study of human behavior. It is neither perfect nor innately wrong. As one who thanks God for the therapists and psychiatrists whose knowledge and medicine helped turn my life around, I will be an advocate (not an anything-goes pusher), of professional mental health care.
How could God possibly be against the study of human behavior when the Bible is in part exactly that? He provides the answers that I, for one, needed the help of therapists to understand.
As a believer in Jesus’ divinity, I know him as the only Son of God. He is not merely one of many options, but is in fact, the way to God the Father*. The “universe,” and creation are not equal to the Almighty Creator. As it says in Romans 9:20, “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'”
I will always credit God as the Highest Power for taking me to the right people at the right time. Because he is an artiste who knows us all intimately, he alone truly understands a human heart and the inner workings of each mind. He knew exactly what would heal me and deepen my experience with him.
Mental health and recovery advocacy is not the same as embracing a victim mentality or denying one’s need for turning from sin. I do not defend addiction, spiritual rebellion, or excuses for poor choices. Instead, my advocacy tears down pious and ignorant stigmas that prevent people from finding lasting hope.
For me, mental health and recovery advocacy is offering patience and support for the suffering no matter what causes their pain. By teaching churches, families, and friends how to effectively love those who are broken-in-spirit, and to avoid becoming overwhelmed in the process, I multiply how many hurting people receive the non-judgmental care they deserve.
My wish is to increase the number of hands offered to despairing people who lay fallen on the floor. I am not going to kick a person who is already down.
Today’s Helpful Word
Job 6:14 (Amplified)
To him who is about to faint and despair, kindness is due from his friend, lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty.
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.
*John 3:16; John 14:6