So, how are we doing? Loaded question, I know.
This briefing is to encourage you,
that no matter what you are facing . . .
no matter what is going on . . .
you can, and indeed you must, press on.
As the apostle Paul practiced, you can choose
to forget what is behind and press on to what lies ahead1,
because God has a future and a hope, planned just for you2.
We recently discussed longings, concluding that our longings will someday be fulfilled in Heaven. O, what a day that will be! But until then, there is no doubt we live in a broken world. 'Gotta put a wrap on one aspect of that brokenness, because we can clearly see that mental illness is running crazy - causing radical problems of many sorts, contributing to addiction, broken relationships, homelessness, suicide, mass shooting (?!) - all kinds of things.
Sadly, the effects and fallout of mental illness can often render us isolated - feeling as though no one could possibly understand what goes on in our homes, our relationships, and yes, in our own minds.
Once I had a young man of 20 years old look at me through miserable eyes and remark, 'you would not want to live one day in my head'. Have you ever felt that way? Like your mind is a war zone? In the last Morning Briefing, "Do You Wear Moccasins?" http://pastorwoman.com/ReadArchive.aspx?id=2980
, I asked for responses on the matter of mental illness, and heard from a number of readers about the pain and loneliness of their personal struggles.
Like it or not, mental illness has a stigma.
When we have physical illness, like a broken leg or an infection, we go to the doctor, seek a remedy and get well. Mental illness falls into a different category. And we often look just fine on the outside, even managing a smile, while tumult abounds within.
I am not a mental health professional quite clearly, but I interface with scores of folks in relational and spiritual matters, so I am well aware of the depth and breadth of this affliction and all that goes with it. So please receive some encouragement from me today in several succinct points.
Be encouraged because you are not alone.
Jesus is a friend who is closer than a brother3. So run to God, cast your cares on him4, carry your young person or mate to him5 and ask him for guidance, wisdom, healing and peace.
Do not do life alone. The Bible says we are to love one another and share one another's burdens - both of which are key to living well in this life. Make sure you look in the right place, find your people, and become an active member of a tribe.
If you are in authentic community, where you are 'doing life' with people, you will soon learn that mental illness is an equal opportunity resident among us. I am well acquainted with the gut-wrenching feeling of being unable to control anxiety, fear and depression-it seems at times like a locomotive barreling down the tracks about to derail.
Your diagnosis is not who you are
, or your loved one either. Your daughter is not bipolar; she may have a bipolar disorder but she is a child of God!6
With God, there is hope, and we can smile at the future.7
and in today's world, there is help. See a doctor and if need be, take medication to balance any imbalances - whether, chemical or hormonal, or occasionally, just situational. [Just curious - do you have a truth teller?]
If mental illness does not impact your life directly, I am so glad! Be thankful.
But listen to me: be certain that you DO NOT JUDGE what you do not understand. Friend, you cannot really understand the plight or anguish of another, unless you are in his head, heart or circumstance [aka 'moccasins']. DO NOT JUDGE because it hurts people and besides, as you judge others, so you will be judged8. Yikes.
Grateful that I addressed this subject, one reading friend commented that a well-known evangelist 'made it sound like the recent suicides are because people don't have God in their life. I don't agree with this. I am a Christian and when my son died 12 years ago from an accidental overdose, I was overcome with pain and sorrow. After a year of counseling, grief groups, mentoring, etc. etc. I felt the grief would never let up and I got to the point of total despair, felt I had no choice but to end my life to end my suffering. I had God in my life and I felt like He wasn't helping me and I was doing everything in my power to find some relief...' Hear me, Friends: faithful, biblical Christians can and do lose their battle, feeling unable to go on. Let's be certain we do not judge, but instead render love and support. Don't understand? Love more.
There are no easy answers or remedies, but we do know we are invited to the throne of grace for mercy9. Mechanism: prayer, crying out to God. And through the power of the Spirit ->we are beckoned to press on. So, surrounded by the great crowd of witnesses who have gone before, who are cheering for us, let us determine we will press on.
1 - Philippians 3.12-14
2 - Jeremiah 29.11
3 - Proverbs 18.24
4 - 1 Peter 5.7
5 - Mark 2.3
6 - Galatians 3.26
7 - Proverbs 31.25
8 - Matthew 7.1-2
9 - Hebrews 4.16
10 - Hebrews 12.1