Douglas paces back and forth, back and forth, back and forth across our living room like a caged cougar, pausing periodically in mid-stride to roar with a string of disassociated words before resuming the drill. I so want to scoop him in my arms and swaddle him like I did when he was infant, holding him tightly to sooth the screaming torment. How I long to gather him and his random rage under the protection of my mothering wings. But he is not willing.
This is what it is like when Douglas refuses treatment for bipolar disorder. There are effective medications available, counselors in-waiting, family members poised and ready to help, but he rejects it all. Defiantly he pushes away his father, who has been working relentlessly behind the scenes to carry him to medical help. My big, generous, kind husband gently pleads with Douglas to let him take him to the hospital. Douglas responds by shoving Nelson into the wall, pinning him tightly. I reach for the phone. By the time the police arrive, Douglas has calmed down, and though they offer to take him to the hospital, they can not force him. And he is not willing.
As I fall into bed that night I am overwhelmed by the absurdity of it all. How different, how better, how beautiful Douglas’ life could be, IF he would just accept the care and treatment being offered to him again and again. Yet he is not willing.
In Luke 13:34, I am reminded that the rejection of help, healing and hope is not a product of mental illness. It is not limited to those unable to reason, or too sick to understand. It is a human condition and I suffer because of it in my own life as well. Perhaps God often looks at me with with compassion and tenderness, and says, “Catherine, Catherine, I have sent you words of wisdom and warning. I have longed to calm your fears and quiet your heart. But you would have none of it.” And I am left to wonder, how different, how better, how beautiful MY life could be, if I would more readily receive from God the care He so lovingly offers through Christ?
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
Luke 13:34 ESV