By Nancy Virden (c)2021
My strong desire is to see stigma replaced with effective love within Christian faith circles. Effective love makes a positive difference. Instead of accusing, it walks alongside. Effective love rejoices in the truth, not myths and platitudes.
The six letters of the word STIGMA form a helpful acronym. Today’s blog looks at T.
We cannot understand the complexities of another person’s filters through which our words and the gospel must run. For example, let us say a man with severe depression and social anxiety grew up observing a coldness between his parents that trickled down to him and his siblings. He feels threatened by the unfamiliar concept of fellowship within the family of God. The idea of God as a loving father is foreign. He understands the words, yet his filters prevent him from experiencing the fulness of their meaning.
To theorize that his problem is stubbornness or a preference to be alone is short sighted and unhelpful. Due to widely accepted stigma and platitudes, it is easy to slip into remarks such as “Just walk with God and you’ll have nothing to fear,” or “You would feel better if you would just come to church.”
What is best to NOT say? Leave the word, “Just” out of the conversation because it suggests a simple solution that the person in pain is refusing to follow. “Just” is dismissive, leaving people feeling like losers. Avoid offering advice at all. Each of us must be willing to admit we may not fully know what we are talking about.
What TO say and do? A woman once said to me, “Come sit with us.” Her welcoming personal invitation told me I was not a pariah, and that my breakdown did not remove her love. She did not interrogate me or tell me how to fix my problem. It is always appropriate to remind people through words and actions that God deeply desires a close relationship with those who hurt.
Listen carefully and believe what the person says. Join him where he is comfortable. A potential solution for the man in our example looks less like talking and more like a long-term, safe relationship with a Christian brother and a welcoming church. -COMMENTS WELCOME
Today’s Helpful Word
Proverbs 25: 18-20
Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow
is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor.
Like a broken tooth or a lame foot
is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.
Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,
or like vinegar poured on a wound,
is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
Nancy’s latest FREE e-books! Click on the pictures for immediate access:
Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. 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. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
HOLY BIBLE, NEW LIVING TRANSLATION, COPYRIGHT © 1996, 2004, 2015 BY TYNDALE HOUSE FOUNDATION. USED BY PERMISSION OF TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC., CAROL STREAM, ILLINOIS 60188, PER BIBLE GATEWAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. RETRIEVED FROM HTTPS://WWW.BIBLEGATEWAY.COM/