Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
Can we fully understand anyone else’s motives?
Jeff Foxworthy was called “mean” by one of the audience members as he hosted the television game show, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader. His contestant was none other than Dan Whitney, playing his famous comedic character, Larry the Cable Guy. If you recall, Foxworthy and Whitney toured together for several years and have a long friendship.
What might you have thought if you heard Foxworthy imply in front of millions of viewers that Larry was stupid?
Whitney is a very successful comedian, actor, producer, and author. “Larry” on the other hand is not so intelligent and is highly unsophisticated. Whitney and Foxworthy play off each other like an old married couple.
Foxworthy replied to the heckler. “I’m not mean. I love this guy. We’ve been friends for a long time.”
We all judge
That situation may seem obvious because most of us know who are these two men involved in teasing each other. However, all humans judge others – we do! It is not a question of judging or not. It is a matter of consciously challenging stereotypes, stigma, and negative perceptions.
If you have thought or said “stupid driver” about the person who doesn’t move as soon as the light turns green, you have made a negative assumption. If you assume laziness to be the problem when you see the mother in the grocery store with two screaming kids, you have allowed stigma to do your thinking.
As one with a mental illness history, I’ve felt the distrust and disdain of those who do not understand. Trying to explain the tunnel-vision that accompanies major depression, I told a man that for a while it feels like ‘me me me’. He said, “Yes, and that’s sinful. We are to be unselfish and loving.”
Depression may prevent a woman or man from responding as we wish. She struggles to reason because her perceptions are negative. This is temporary. Meanwhile, of course she needs attention. He needs someone to dole out his meds. She wants to hear she is loved as-is. He longs for his friends to contact him so he does not feel forgotten.
We actually cannot understand anyone else’s motives. We must offer the benefit of a doubt, and believe a person’s explanation until facts show us otherwise. Close-minded people will be the last to learn. Mental illness, abuse, and addiction each come with a crowd of assumptions and negative judgments.
Let’s be leaders in setting higher examples, and casting the rallying cry for more eyes that willingly see, ears that choose to hear, and gentle respect for each other.
Today’s Helpful Word
Galatians 6: 4-5
“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”
**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME
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 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. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!