By Nancy Virden (c)2021
We are complex beings and complex solutions to our complex problems are reached through complex ideas. Simplifying any single person’s situation is to refuse to think critically.
Is any common circumstance perceived the exact same way by different people? Your family is caught in the rain. One responds by hanging up her hat. Another races to the mirror to fix his hair. There is always one who says, “I want to go back out and play!” No, similar experiences do not dictate reactions. Why then do we expect depression to be any different?
The six letters of the word STIGMA form a helpful acronym. Today’s blog looks at M.
M = Mutual understanding
Relatability is tentative at best. We may think we know, but do not actually know what another person needs in the moment. For example: If woman with depression seems needy, telling her to take those needs to Jesus may not be as helpful as you wish. If perhaps the only time she received attention as a child was when she was ill, her issue may not be as much her spoken needs or cry for sympathy, but expressions of love outside of troubles. “Take your needs to Jesus” is to her, yet another form of “do not bother me”. The solution is a love-filled tank forged through sincere and consistent relationship.
We cannot judge another by the degree to which he reacts to life. Though not guaranteed, it is possible that your Christian friend who has depression is more honest than most. Having come to the end of his efforts, denial is defeated. Depression is often the result of fighting too long.
Another person brags about being emotionally self-controlled. She may actually be out of touch with her emotions or fearful of emotional expression. To think, “I am stronger or better because I did not fall apart emotionally in difficult circumstances” is pride acting as a coping mechanism. Honesty does not require deflection. It is grateful for God’s undeserved mercy. “There but for the grace of God, go I.”
To claim mutual understanding is dismissive. Please do not say, “I know how you feel” because no one knows how someone else feels. Do not imply that another person overcame by getting his act together. A phrase like, “my sister had that and she was over it in three weeks” undercuts the value of a slower healing process, and may prevent your friend from trusting you to care.
Do say, “I am with you and will pray for you.” Admit you do not understand completely but that in your struggles you have found God never leaves. Share what has worked for you as long as you explain this may not be the solution your friend needs. Mostly just listen.
As for the woman in the example, a Christian sister can mentor her. A professional counselor may be able to help her discover freedom as God leads the process. -COMMENTS WELCOME
Today’s Helpful Word
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.
From his throne [God] observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.
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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!
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