An Itch

I’ve had this itch for a while now-a thought, a longing that won’t leave the back of my mind, that keeps resurfacing.

I want this thing so badly-for me, for my husband, for people who battle the same battles as my husband, for the wives/husbands/sisters/brothers/parents/friends who watch these horrific battles unfold and can do almost nothing about it.

I want the church to be a place of freedom, peace, rest and comfort for those with mental illness and their families. Jesus has always already been this place. I want His bride-the Church- to be this place, also.

I want to be a part of it. Or start it.

But I don’t know how. I don’t know exactly what it would look like. I don’t know where to start, or who to talk to, or if anyone would come. I don’t know if others want this. I don’t know if I could do it. I don’t know if I could start, lead, or participate well in this. I don’t know if I’m emotionally strong enough to handle it.

But I do know that there are so many more people than we realize who are fighting this war. I do know that God’s heart hurts for this even more than mine does. I do know I want to see Biblical, healing, supportive ministry in this area. I do know I’m not qualified. Sometimes I know that I’m called to this. But other times I don’t know that at all.

I don’t know a lot, but what I do know keeps growing in strength, crowding out the uncertainty, the fear, the insecurity.

But I still don’t know.

Robin

rw

I know this is a weird photo choice, but it just captures how fun he was and how much fun people had with him. photo from http://www.today.com

Celebrities’ deaths don’t usually affect me too much. My world and theirs are so far removed from each other, that other than a passing regretful thought, my world remains unchanged.

But Robin Williams is another story. Besides the fact that I grew up on his silliness and characters and watched Mrs. Doubtfire more times than I could ever possibly count, he left this world in a way that has become my greatest fear.

I desperately want to hug his wife. I want to hold her and cry with her and pray with her. I hurt so much for her, knowing the heartache that she has experienced even before his death.

There have been more than a few references on social media to some less-than-grace-filled opinions about depression-based suicide (insights along the lines of Christians Shouldn’t Have Depression, You Have Depression Because You Don’t Have Enough Faith, Pray Harder, Get Over It, etc.).

I would imagine that many of those opinions were shared by people who have never for one moment experienced depression themselves, nor watched a husband, wife, mother, father, brother, sister, or friend fight.so.hard. against this evil darkness and the lies with which it attacks. And this made me mad.

My first reactions were thoughts like, Who are they to weigh in on this? They have no effing idea what they’re talking about! They have no right to speak into this-they don’t know what it’s like!

But after my husband (Braveheart himself) intercepted a rather bitter, resentful facebook post I almost made, I recevied a text from a friend. A text of sweet support, letting me know that all this news coverage had brought us to mind and she was thinking of us. And in flooded all the experiences, people, and relationships we have that are so opposite of the opinions I mentioned earlier.

Yes, there are ignorant motormouths who will spout stupidly about hurts and illnesses they know nothing about.
But there are also parents who will attend conferences about mental illness because they want to be able to offer support.
There are parents who will take calls at any time of day because they have known this darkness themselves and can offer solidarity and comfort.
There are pastors who will lovingly counsel and pray you through dark moments in your marriage brought on by this illness.
There are life group members/friends who will listen, seek to understand, and refuse to stand in judgment, praying for and beside you instead of preaching at you.
There are best friends who will hold all your dark secrets and love you even more deeply because of them.
There are friends at church and at work who know just by looking at you when things are not well, and give you permission to have a crappy day.
There are co-workers who will let you vent over happy hour margaritas and not shy away from the hard topics.
There are other people silently suffering who find hope in the sharing of your own struggles, and who will stand with you in solidarity and hope because no one is alone in this.
There are blessings to be found despite this illness, and there are loving, grace-filled, gentle people to offer friendship and support. There are people who need your own love, gentleness, and grace. It’s my prayer that I can offer that. It’s my prayer that we all can.

Shalom

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day have come and gone. One of the most stressful, anxiety-filled seasons of the year (along with the joy, wonder, awe, etc.). In a very compartmentalized part of myself, I dreaded it, because of all.the.things. The parties, the can’t-get-out-of-it commitments, the family drama (of which we have oh-so-much. Yay us.).

When your husband has depression that robs him of every last ounce of energy for dealing with people and socially normal things, the Christmas season feels a little like a ticking time bomb. How long before he’s d.o.n.e. and retreats into The Pit? How long before I have to come up with reasons for why he’s not at this or that party…again?

I kept waiting….and waiting….and then cautiously optimistically enjoying events…but still waiting. And, it never came. God has blessed us with 2 of the most consistently healthy, wonderful months we’ve had all at one time, ever. It’s been beyond-words amazing. Peace-filled, restful, restorative. A calm in the midst of a storm, a reprieve from battle.

So I (we) have enjoyed it, and not tried to analyze it too much by writing, but instead praise God (every.day.) for it and live it.

The Hebrew word “shalom”┬ámeans completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.

Just, yes.

This has characterized the last 2 months for us, and we pray it continues. Forever.

Take every victory.

grace

Tonight, I let God be the strong one.

Frankly, I’m really bad at it anyway (as evidenced by, well, every other post I’ve written here). When I force myself to be the strong one, I have the stamina of a fat kid on a running track (I was that kid, so I would know). I can be understanding and compassionate for about 1.2 minutes. Then fear, frustration, and discouragement set in and shit hits the fan…tons of it.

But God is slowly and surely breaking that stubborn, self-sufficient and self-reliant part of me. Turns out, His grace really is more than sufficient, and He is perfectly reliable like no human could ever hope to be.

This will sound annoying, but I can find no other way to explain it. The whole “let God be your strength” thing is so theoretical-until it’s not. When I finally gave up and decided to trust Him, leaning into His strength just made sense. I found I was incapable of doing anything else. It is life-giving, and full of comfort, and, even in the midst of pain, filled with deep joy.

With it, I was able to hear my husband’s pain without panicking. I could comfort without falling apart. I could hold him and not pull away. I could stay in the pain with him and not implode. Victory. Only His strength can do this. Mine just.cannot.

I cannot deal with this illness, or support my husband through it, by myself. I am weak, selfish, and paralyzed by fear. But He is strong (like, ninja strong), loving, and invincible.

He is everything.