Friday, October 28, 2016

Maybe Healing Looks Different Sometimes

I read an article recently that made me think. It related to a very personal experience for me. One I haven't spoken about directly in this format before . . . or really spoken about much to more than a small group of people in my life.

When you live with anxiety, it's not usually a topic of regular discussion. There really seems to be some deep misunderstandings about what it actually means for the person living with it. And, like the article I read says, some of the things that are said by others or suggestions of how to solve the problem are far from helpful. And they assume things that aren't true.

For a while, I've been thinking about what it might actually mean for God to heal someone, and I've been wondering if our definition of healing might be too narrow. We tend to see healing as only having happened if we're completely free of whatever it was we asked God to heal us or another person of. But, what if that's not all it is?

What if healing sometimes means being able to live what most would call a "normal life" while still living with something such as anxiety? What if healing means learning how to live the life God has for you while still having the struggle?

I think that sometimes, it's when we live with the ongoing struggle, but still live life to the full that we're actually living more of the life God created us to live. It makes us more dependent on God to get through each day.

And we need to learn to see this as God healing, as much as being permanently freed from something. Yes, that is what healing can be. But, what if healing also looks like learning to live a life where you're not held back by something like anxiety? It doesn't mean we never have moments of battling with it, but it means we learn to manage it and to deal with it properly in the moments when it begins to rise again.

This doesn't mean we don't pray for complete healing of something. It doesn't mean we don't desire to be completely freed from it. But, sometimes on this side of eternity, we're not going to see things completely made right because we live in a broken world.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Walking into Some Difficult Topics of Discussion

It seems that these weeks on my blog are for taking on the subjects that can be controversial, but that seems to be what comes to mind when I sit down to write these days. And when it's not a post I'm going to write and leave to sit for a couple weeks before it goes live, that means they get written and they actually get shared.

In the last few days, I've seen the same meme coming up on Facebook - posted or liked by multiple people. In the past it wouldn't have bothered me much because I agreed with what it said without question. But, I've been bothered by it these last few days. I'm not sure it's always as cut and dry as this meme makes it out to be anymore.

The meme talks about how if you don't take divorce off the table when you get married you'll end up divorced rather than working things out. That it is as simple as just deciding it's not an option in every situation.

Now, before we go any further, I want to be clear that I'm not saying divorce is something God means to happen in marriage. I believe He created marriage to last. It should be something that is worked on, rather than divorce being the easy way out of problems. Divorce is not God's plan for marriage.

For a long time, I used to think exactly the way that is talked about in the meme from Facebook - that if you just take divorce off the table, you'll end up staying married and working things out instead. I had no question about it. Despite never being married myself I was sure that it was just as simple as deciding divorce was never an option.

Some things that have happened in the lives of others around me have made me think that's not always so cut and dry when it comes to this. Going into marriage thinking it will end isn't the right idea. That's not going to help you to create a marriage that is even beginning to look like God intended for it to look.

But, I also wonder if stating it's never an option, can, in same cases, actually do more harm than good. I'm beginning to wonder if sometimes making it out to be as simple as just deciding it's not an option can put undue pressure on someone to stay when it's not safe - to stay in a situation that's not actually going to get better or be worked on to deal with the problems in it because the one person is unwilling to do the work.

I would say that divorce is never God's plan. And it shouldn't be our first choice. But, I wonder if there are times when we need to remove some of the shame of ending up in the place of it being what is happening, by not declaring that it's as simple as deciding it's not an option. Sometimes, even when you go in to marriage thinking it's not an option, you end up in that place for a variety of reasons.

It's not our place to judge the reasons why someone ended up there. We don't usually know the whole story. We don't know what has gone on that we can't see before something ended up there.

Regardless of our views on this, our job is to love people. And to care about them in their need and their brokenness. It's what we are called to. And I'm wondering if part of doing that is refusing to declare a simple solution to what can be a much more complicated problem.

Since I wrote this post, I've realized that this post is actually being posted 9 years to the day from the first post I ever wrote for here. When I started this blog, I never thought I'd get to this day. But here I am, posting something I'm not sure I ever would have posted when I started writing.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Words we Use Talking about Mental Illness

I've been watching some discussions about mental illness take place on Facebook recently. I've been encouraged by the courage of many in talking about their own struggles with mental illness. And I've been shocked at some of the responses they've received - many of them the very reason why this isn't talked about in the church often enough.

As someone who has been there myself and has walked alongside others in their struggle, I know it's difficult to talk about openly. For all the ground we've gained, there is still a lot of stigma around mental illness. And, sadly, that stigma often seems greater in the church.

To some degree I understand. If you've never dealt with mental illness yourself, it can be hard to understand. I didn't really understand it until I faced it myself. Then I was able to more easily alongside others who were struggling, with the love and grace they needed.

I think the part of the online discussions I've been struggling with the most is the implication that a person with mental illness would be cured if they just had more faith and prayed more. Can those things help someone struggling with mental illness? Absolutely. But to imply (and sometimes, out-right state) that's all they need is destructive.

Some of the people I know who had the greatest faith and the most intimate prayer lives are also those who are in the midst of the some of the deepest battles with mental illness. Telling someone they need to have more faith and pray more to be cured does nothing more than make light of a legitimate struggle.

In the case of any other kind of illness we would definitely pray for God to heal the person, but we would also encourage the person to see appropriate medical help. Why do we treat mental illness any differently?

I guess the thing I'm looking for in all of these discussions I've seen, that often seems to be missing, is the love and care for one another that Scripture teaches. Yes, there are times when we need to speak some hard truth to each other, but that should never come at the expense of loving and caring for one another. It should be part of it.

I would say that even when we're participating in discussions on social media of any kind, maybe even especially there, we need to be careful not to use our words in the destructive way I've been seeing them used lately. When someone admits to a struggle with mental illness, we need to respond with care and love. Being supportive of their struggle and their journey back to health.

What if, instead of telling people what they should do when they admit a struggle with mental illness, we listened? And we cared? And we offered love and support?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

God's Hands

Cold, dark, unresponsive
A lifeless heart weighed down
By life’s burdens crushed beneath
The heaviness of struggle
Waiting for rescue and release
Waiting to be set free

How long must I wait?
How long will this go on?
Will this weight be lifted?
Will I walk again?
Or, is this my new home,
My new way of living life?

Warmth, light, a hand reaching
Taking my lifeless heart
In gentle, loving hands
Hands that lift the crushing weight
Hands that gather the pieces
To tenderly rebuild, bring life

A beautiful, new creation
Shining in His glorious light
His brilliant Masterpiece
Restored to the fullness of it all
The joy of all He designed me for
And He delights to gift to me