A number of years ago a dear friend was in a horrible car accident, and two of her three small children were killed. There were no words of comfort worthy of her grief. So we sat in tear-filled silence for a long, long time. Then quietly I asked her, “What do you think Jesus is doing right now?” She shrugged. “Weeping,” I whispered.
Jesus sits with us in our sorrows. He understands our disappointments and carries us through the unimaginable.
I watched the turmoil in his eyes as our son Douglas wrestled with envy at the news his younger brother, Jonathan, had just bought his first house. And when his little sister, Joanna, completed her master’s studies, Douglas struggled again. After all, he was the eldest. Shouldn’t he be first in all things? Continue reading
Have you ever been invited to meet with someone very important or famous? Or can you imagine that you have? I think I would spend a lot of time planning for the visit: what to say, what to wear, how early to arrive, when to know it is time to leave, whether to bring a gift. I would be terrified that I’d make a mistake or say something offensive. And what would I do if I arrived in a rainstorm and showed up sopping wet or came on the wrong day? Or, what if I lost the invitation on the way? The possible faux pas are endless.
In her excellent book Prayer in the Night, Tish Harrison Warren tells about a time when a friend’s infant son had to have surgery. As the baby was wheeled away, the mother said to the father, “We have to decide right now whether or not God is good, because if we wait to determine that by the results of this surgery, we will always keep God on trial.”*
We do that, don’t we? We consistently judge God by the outcome of our prayers, according to His provisions to address our needs or on whether or not things turn out the way we want. We believe God to be good when He does what we think He should, but we can quickly put Him on trial when life moves in a direction we don’t like. Continue reading
Maybe you remember the moment of your epiphany. That instant when you realized the severe mental illness your loved one suffers with can’t be “fixed”—not by you, not by medication, not by therapy. It’s that time you understood mental illness isn’t like other illnesses that can be cured, but more like diabetes that can be managed and mitigated, but not usually healed. And, if not carefully addressed, it can also be fatal.
Watching over, caring for, supporting a loved one with mental health challenges has forced me to learn many new things I never thought I’d need to know—things like how to apply for SSI, how to get a mental health warrant, how to research psychotropic medications and how to recognize and mitigate “triggers.” It has also helped me to learn to pray differently, trust God in deeper ways, be more empathetic with others and, most surprising of all, how to wait.
Good morning, Lord.
I am grateful that, once again, You have offered me a new day as an incredible gift to unwrap and enjoy. Thank You that it is not a blank slate waiting to be filled, but a treasure chest beckoning to be explored.
When Douglas took off after high school to attempt life as an adult, he carried with him his “fortune”: savings bonds from grandpa, a car given by a friend, graduation monies and a promise of rent payment from us. Within months it was all gone. Squandered. Like the Prodigal Son, he had taken all the things that could have given him a successful launch and used them on “riotous living.” It’s no wonder that in those early days I often turned to the parable in Luke 15:11-32.
But that was before. Before a diagnosis. Before understanding of mental illness. Before the discernment to distinguish misdirected brain chemistry from willful foolish behavior. Continue reading
Some of you may have noticed that I have not posted a new blog in many months. This is because I have had some health issues that needed my full attention for a time. I’m happy to say that I am fully on the mend, and so am able to pick back up with sharing with you. As a reminder, these blogs form a collection of my reflections from the Scriptures related to caring for loved ones who live with mental illness.
Wouldn’t you know it! As if caring for our loved ones doesn’t stir up enough fear on its own, here comes COVID-19, isolation, job losses, economic uncertainty, political chaos and civil unrest. So, in addition to worrying about our loved ones’ medication compliance, suicidal ideations or agitated outbursts we also fear what kind of a future is ahead of us.
How do we get on top of such anxiety? Continue reading