Do you wear moccasins?
Can't really judge that fellow unless you have walked a mile in his moccasins.
I remember so vividly when one of my sons was in high school, and he said, "Mom, I need to see someone." "What do you mean?" "I mean, my mind is racing, I cannot focus - I need to see someone! I think I have ADD1." There were a couple of events that escalated his desperate feelings, so I made an appointment with a psychiatrist who his friend also saw. My husband, his dad greatly objected to the whole thing. "We are not putting him on medicine! We are so over medicated as a society!" Ugh.
See, there are a lot of strong feelings about psychiatry, meds . . . or more aptly, psychotropic drugs. It was not that long ago actor Tom Cruise took it upon himself to condemn Brooke Shields for taking an anti-depressant as she suffered with Post Partum Depression. Can't really judge till you been in those post-delivery hormones, Tom, and clearly, you have not.
Adding to the stigma that is sometimes attached to seeking treatment for mental illness is the position of 'the church'. For years, the pastor of the church I attended maintained that 'if one just had enough faith . . . if one just prayed more fervently, God would take the depression or anxiety away.' 'Oh great! Now on top of being debilitated by depression, a person is made to feel 'less than' because she does not have enough faith?!'
Historically, I cannot say that Christendom has done a very good job addressing mental illness. This problem doesn't go away just because you have faith. For many, the church has become a place where they quietly suffer.
I have heard from a few readers in the past week or so about their own struggle with mental illness and I would like to invite you into the discussion: how about your story? How have you been impacted by mental illness in your family and has the Church or Christians come along side you, or have you felt judged, isolated? Fact is, we surely can do this thing better.
The writer of Hebrews lets us know in chapter four that our High Priest, Jesus, is touched by the feelings of our infirmities; he suffers along with us, and he himself identified with everything that we face.2 I'm comforted by the fact that Paul said the Holy Spirit himself prays for us to the Father, on our behalf, with groans that cannot even be deciphered.3 For now, I close with this-
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in hope. 4
Friends, our hope is in the Lord.
Hit 'reply,' won't you? Let's talk about this thing-what it's like to walk in someone else's moccasins.
1 - ADD- Attention Deficit Disorder
2 - Hebrews 4.15
3 - Romans 8.26
4 - Romans 15.13