As a father I still remember those times when I would come home from work and my wife would tell me that our young son was not well. “What is the matter?” or “What’s the problem, how is he unwell?” would I think have been my natural reaction and sometimes I would get a specific answer – “He has a cold” or “His stomach is playing up”. But at other times the answer would be far less definite and much more vague – “He doesn’t know he is just feeling ‘icky'” or when he was much, much younger, “I am not sure he is just very lethargic and something isn’t right.”
I have to tell you, it was those more general and vague responses that I feared and disliked the most.
Our son was hurting and he couldn’t tell us why and we couldn’t find out why and that in itself limited our ability to help and that situation of seeing someone you love and care for hurting and yet not knowing how to help was just awful.
Of course that situation is not unique to me. Nor is it specific to just our son Matthew. The fact is that I felt and still do feel that way about my adopted kids too, when they were hurting. Likewise I feel similarly when anyone I know and love or care about is hurting and I am unable to help.
I am sure lots of us experience the same or similar concerns, compassion and frustrations in these situations and that as you read this piece you will already have identified with some of what I am saying.
The strapline for this blog is “One man’s journey through Paranoid Schizophrenia, Mental Health, Faith and Life.” and yes much of what I write about on this blog is focused on my own mental health and on my own needs, challenges, experiences, hopes, fears and dreams. That is, I think, understandable given the ‘personal journal’ nature of this blog.
But whilst my mental health is exactly that ‘my’ mental health that journey, which I speak of in the strap line, is not just mine and it does involve others. Yes even a life and journey as isolated as mine involves others.
And when those ‘others’ are hurting it can – depending on how much we care for or love them – have a huge impact on us.
As I write this piece I can think of a number of people who are truly suffering at the moment…
One couple – who are very dear to my heart – have been suffering an extreme period of difficulty both mentally and physically since before Christmas and I cannot begin to express how much I care for them and how concerned I am for them. But alas, outside of writing encouragements and showing that I care, and of course prayer, I feel powerless to help.
Likewise someone else who is extremely dear to my heart is going through situations that I myself am not even sure I could cope with. Now trust me I have coped with a fair bit in my life, but again apart from prayer and encouragements, I feel powerless to help.
But is there a contradiction, an inaccurate implied defeatism in those words of mine?
“apart from prayer and encouragements, I feel powerless to help.”
Have I not suffered from poor mental health for as much of my life as I can remember? Haven’t I, in all that time, experienced situations that no-one else could fully understand, fully connect with, fully experience? Either because they did not have exactly the same thing going on in their lives or because they were not me and so even if their experience was similar there was still that ‘personal’ variance?
And yet haven’t the prayers and encouragements of others sometimes been the only thing that kept me going?
I can remember a time, not so long ago, when I crashed so very far down. Unable to communicate or even to reason I just wept and wept. Sitting there like some sort of hysterical zombie with PMT – unable to talk or to respond or to even fully comprehend what was happening to me or indeed who it was who were there with me helping me through it. The very fact that some folk – actually the couple I mentioned above – among one or two others – were there encouraging me was enough to bring me through that harrowing experience.
I have little doubt, given what happened, that those dear folk had absolutely no idea if their words or presence were even penetrating the complete and utter horror and chaos and confusion that my mental health had me trapped within at that time. And yet they stood by me throughout it all. And indeed their words, (some of them at least) and their presence and no doubt – given that they were Christian brothers and sisters – their prayers were indeed getting through and did indeed make a difference.
Of course in that situation they were physically able to be there with me even thought they could not get to where I was mentally. And yes very often the people whom we love and care for and who are suffering are not physically close to us, especially in this day and age.
The fact of the matter is that sometimes, and especially in respect of those who live far away but also those of us who suffer from mental illness/poor mental health and indeed physical illness/poor physical health, the only things that we have left to offer in help and support are our words and our prayers and that often times we offer them with no real immediate sign that they are getting through.
As an avid writer, poet, correspondent, and blogger and as someone who has been on both sides of situations like this, I am convinced that our words can without doubt reach out and hold and comfort and encourage those in need.
I really do believe that there are times when our words are all that we can offer and yet even in those times those words can be an absolute lifeline and bring rescue and healing.
I know that sounds a little dramatic, but trust me, anyone who has seen or experienced some of the wonderful ways in which people have been helped just through words of encouragement, would understand that I intended no exaggeration in that statement.
Additionally, as a Christian, I am convinced in the power of prayer. And even though again we may not see immediate sign of our prayers actually getting though, the fact of the matter is that I have no doubt whatsoever that they do and will be answered according to God’s will.
Earlier I spoke of those times when I as a father had to watch my children suffer and how that made me feel.
I am human, flawed and imperfect and yet my love for my children is such that I want for them to be healthy and have a good life and to be safe.
So how much more then would our Heavenly Father whose love, like Him, is flawless and perfect want that for us His children?
As a Christian who suffers from extremely poor mental and physical health I am often asked why I am not yet healed of either.
My answer is always the same, “I don’t know. But I am not going to start doubting or blaming God as a result of it and I find nowhere in the scriptures that tell me either a) healing is always instant or b) that life on this earth will be trouble-free.”
Actually I can quote scriptures that prove the opposite of both of those beliefs (a & b above) and trust me having been a Christian for many years and ill for a good many of them, I have had a long time to reflect on the whole subject lol.
Do I know why I go through what I go through? No not at all, although I do readily accept that often times I am not the best at doing what I am meant to do even when it comes to remembering to take medication etc.
But here is the deal. More importantly, through the His word and through the love and prayers and encouragement of others I know that I do not go through it all alone.
What can we do when those we care for are hurting? We can give of ourselves. In whatever way we can afford because we can’t always know just how important that is and we can’t always know just how desperately it is needed.
Kind Regards ♥