Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Love them like Jesus

A few posts ago I  alluded to some conversations that I’ve had lately, some comments that have been made that have made me think about how hard life can be for some people. 
For those who aren’t aware, I deal with issues surrounding mental health on a daily basis…not my own, but those who have been there can attest to that fact that when you are immersed, or maybe submersed is a better word, in a life with someone you love experiencing a mental illness then you often feel like you might as well have the diagnosis anyway. 
Life has been tough for a few years, lots of things have happened that have caused permanent scars on the lives of everyone in my house.  But we are working on this, we have been and we will continue to. 

Today I wanted to touch on depression and God…how they two come together and how they separate too.  Depression and deep sadness is not a new thing, it’s not something our generation dreamed up nor is it something that has only existed in the last 100 years.  King David was pretty clear that his world was one that was wrought with sadness at times….

Psalm 31 9-10

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish
    and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,[b]
    and my bones grow weak.

And like King David, people today with mental illness experience a lack of support …

11 Because of all my enemies,
    I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
    those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
    I have become like broken pottery.

I came across this on a Christian website and thought it applies well here….

“The church is God's hospital. It has always been full of people on the mend. Jesus himself made a point of inviting the lame, the blind, and the possessed to be healed and to accompany him in his ministry, an invitation often spurned by those who thought they were fine as is.”

But that fact is so many of us are not ‘fine as is’ and so many need support to get the help they need…or even just to be supported WHILE they are getting the help they need. 

There is no symptom more central to depression than the loss of hope and it is so easy to feel hopeless when the people around you don’t offer their support, when you feel shunned, ignored, gossiped about etc.  Where is the motivation to ‘get better’ when everyone acts these ways around you. 

But there is hope, there is support.  God is there to shelter you from the pain, the emptiness and the sense of loss…and he is so totally ok with you not being up to giving much back to him some days.  When I was in the deep dark depths of grief and could barely see the light I came across this song and it just really speaks to the heart of one who is struggling to stay afloat but still knows God loves them…

All I can Say – David Crowder Band

Lord I'm tired
So tired from walking
And Lord I'm so alone
And Lord the dark
Is creeping in
Creeping up
To swallow me
I think I'll stop
Rest here a while

And didn't You see me cry'n?
And didn't You hear me call Your name?
Wasn't it You I gave my heart to?
I wish You'd remember
Where you sat it down

And this is all that I can say right now
i know it's not much
And this is all that I can give
yeah that's my everything

I didn't notice You were standing here
I didn't know that
That was You holding me
I didn't notice You were cry'n too
I didn't know that
That was You washing my feet

And He is there, he is standing right there, he is holding us..always.  And he is ok with us not being able to give him much some days.  He understands that we don’t notice him when we are in the dark world of sadness and loss…. And oh how easy it becomes to not notice anyone around you when you are depressed, suffering from mental health issues such as manic depression, narcissism (yes this really is a diagnosis, not just someone who thinks they are the BEST!), addiction or anxiety disorders.  A big characteristic of many mental illnesses is a  self-centered attitude…either self-importance or self-loathing.   And I think God is even ok with us feeling like He has abandoned us. 
Wanna know why???Because he created us with the ability to experience love and without the ability to love you can’t have the ability to lose (because what are you losing if it isn’t something you loved in some way).  It doesn’t need to be the grief of losing a loved one.  It can be precipitated by the loss of a job, a home, a friendship, a relationship etc…but it can also be precipitated by the loss of self, the loss of who you thought you were going to be, what you were going to do with life.  God knows we will feel this way and He allows it…because he knows that if we turn to him we will eventually find the only way to really heal and that is through Him.

Sure there are lots of other ways to get help getting there. When used properly, antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy can restore a person’s stability so that they can better face their everyday challenges. And for those in the heart of a deep dark depression, the effects of medicine and therapy might even prompt them to praise the Lord for this form of healing. And they should give thanks. But none of these approaches provides much help in understanding or addressing the reason they are depressed.  It doesn’t address the problem of which depression is a symptom. These approaches provide needed relief, but not answers or prevention.

The medical world comes up short because they can only go as far as their understanding of the subject of the problem will take them.  They can treat the problem, the symptoms, the chemical imbalances… but they can’t treat the heart.  They can help you to see your triggers, identify areas of weakness, explore your past to find the root of the problem but what they can’t do is change the way our “fallen society's afflictions are often inscribed on the bodies of its members’.  In other words, they can’t change every person in the world so that no one impacts us in a way that evokes the feelings that precipitate a mental health issue or crisis. They can’t change that our society is full of things that can set of the strongest of minds let alone someone who is struggling with mental health and addiction.  And they most certainly can’t stop the enemy from finding the very things that attack our fragile minds and hearts and from convincing us we are worthless, useless, powerless etc. 
I never realized how much impact the Lord could have on mental health, mental stability until I came to a place where God was approached as the ultimate healer, where Jesus was your helper, your friend, the one who would listen without judgment.  And that in a place where God is looked upon in this way, his people, his church, are also much like Him and support others around them in the same manner.  It amazes me how non-judgmental the people I encounter in my faith community are.  They don’t make comments like ‘well I hope it works this time’, ‘I hope he/she doesn’t screw this up’, ‘ hopefully this time the focus will stay where it needs to be’ etc.  Instead they offer support, encouragement, praise, gratitude for what the Lord has given and unconditional love. 

Yesterday our associate pastor spoke about ‘serving with love’ and how important that is.  One of the points that really stuck with me was that ‘Serving with Love’ is a choice… a choice we all should choose but a choice all the same.  The reason we must make this choice is that we are all people….no matter our abilities or afflictions… we are all people.  Who did Jesus love on the most… the ill, the lame, the poor, the widows, the children… all of those that society shunned.  We need to stop judging and love like Jesus did…we need to choose to serve ALL others. 

Thank you to everyone who can love like Jesus!

No comments:

Post a Comment