Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse (c)2018 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries
This past Sunday, I drove to Chicago. The director of alumni events at a rehabilitation center had invited me to speak with residents on Monday.
Morning came early. While much of the U.S.A. was arising and heading to work or school, these women continued the fight to gain recovery from addiction, eating disorders, mental health challenges, or all three. Excited and a little nervous, I left the hotel to join them.
Women in the rehab program advance in liberties as they progress. This time, my audience consisted of women in the process of learning to make healthier choices without constant supervision. They are well on their way to going home, clean and sober. In fact, a few of them graduated that day!
Most people in recovery have been told numerous times they are worthless, many since childhood. As part of my story, I shared the reality of God’s love and message. I added, “I am a Christian, born-again, a follower of Jesus. But those are only words. Hopefully, my life reflects who he is.” Everyone nodded.
America today hears much rhetoric about Christians, evangelicals in particular, and the mix of religion with politics as if faith in Jesus and a certain political party are one and the same. It is difficult for those who do not know, to grasp who Jesus actually is.
In some ways, the standard for Christians is raised. Show me you mean it. Show me you do not hate or despise me. Match your choices to your words. Prove your faith by your love. In extending love and compassion, and sincere non-critical acceptance to people in all stages of their journey, we represent God as the Bible reveals him.*
Mental health treatment in this country is greatly lacking. It is not available everywhere, and is expensive for most. Parity in the insurance realm is inconsistent. There are few standards by which to measure how long a patient should stay in a hospital.
In my opinion, stigma and lack of knowledge are the primary reasons we do not take care of mentally ill and emotionally unstable people. There is judgment – “I do not believe in mental health disability, I just don’t.” “Depression is not an illness, with enough faith (or strength) anyone can snap out of it.” “You are adopting the principles of the world if you give psychology any merit.”
All these have been said to me, about me, plus many more accusations of failure. If I could describe the beauty of joy and hope in the faces of the women I met on Monday, perhaps more could see the value of mental (some call it behavioral) healthcare. Maybe God could get some credit for knowing what he is doing in each person’s life!
Meanwhile, it is tremendous joy being vulnerable and open with people in the middle of the struggle. They, as do we all, respond to love.
Today’s Helpful Word
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.
-woman pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; Jesus pic from freebibleimages.org
*This does not imply avoidance of the topic of sin. As seen in my work s a whole, my emphasis is how we approach people. Are we interested in gaining insight into another person’s struggle? Jesus showed sincere non-critical acceptance to hurting people, and in the context of meeting their needs, taught them to know him.