If you’ve ever really looked in someone’s eyes and asked “how are you?” you will see truth, whether it be of joy, peace, uncertainty, pain, lack of worth, the range of emotions are many and all it takes is pausing and looking into that persons eyes/soul and all of it will be revealed to you. We unfortunately as a society don’t do this often enough, we tend to be busied about OUR day and OUR activities, this sounds like criticism I know, but I promise you it is not, this is truth and it’s time we stop and see this. We need to honestly take time look in the eyes of one another and care.
That is the first part, so we do that. Now what do we do when we see pain? We try to comfort obviously, but for some of us we honestly just don’t know how, often times we feel we are invading ones privacy or it may simply be an emotion beyond our context of understanding. Does that mean we care any less? Absolutely not, however this is part of the problem surrounding stigma in mental health. For us it’s easier to hear things like “oh I’m sick with an ear infection”, and the reply is heartfelt and simple we say things like “I hate to hear that. I pray you feel better soon. Have you been to a doctor to get medicine?”, in our society it is simple and acceptable to suggest treatment for “physical ailments” along with prayer. However, when someone opens up and says “I’m not ok, I’m depressed, I am nearing the end of my tolerance.”. First, it is shocking to many of us because we are not use to hearing truthfully candid answers, but think about that, that means too many of us are suffering in silence and that statement is often a very real cry for help.
Our compassion is no less, however more often than not I see 3 things commonly. First, we may sight scripture, second, we say things like “think about all the suffering on the cross Jesus did so that we may live”, third, we say things like “don’t let Satan win control of your mind”, are these things wrong? No, however in that moment that person who is in so much pain who is crying out can barely see past their own pain, so it is important we remember that and take that to heart when replying.
Scriptures for me are a great place of peace but when I’m in a moment where I’m spiraling out of control, my thoughts are racing, the last thing I can do is focus, and this is truth. So in that “moment” let us lay those to the side and let’s speak from our heart with the words God gives us. It may be a simple “I am listening, I hear you and I am praying.” The second one I see often “think about all the suffering on the cross Jesus did for us so that we may live”, is this wrong?, no, is it helpful though in that “moment”? No. When I’m in the moment of despair I’m in so much pain, I already am beating myself up, I feel unworthy, not good enough, and a burden, so when I (I use myself in this as an example of insight) hear things like my beautiful savior giving his life for me it only deepens my feelings of shame, feeling as a failure, more lack of worth. Let’s say things that God would have us say from our heart, let us not compare someone in pain to Jesus. Those in pain certainly don’t feel worthy enough of the comparison and it’s just one more thing on our list of how weak and failing we feel. Ask God as your father what he would have you to say to comfort your sibling and listen to your heart. For me often times God leads me to say things like, “John, I hear the pain you’re in. I care about you, let’s talk about what is going on. Then do you mind if I pray with you?”. Third, “don’t let Satan win control of your mind”, this one is difficult, I understand the true fear in this statement, but I am going to say this because God has laid it upon my heart, God does not live in fear nor does he wish that for his beloved children. So when I’m already consumed with my racing thoughts, utter confusion and despair, as well as the tidal wave of emotions, to have someone say this to me only furthers my confusion and feeling of despair and GOD IS ABSOLUTELY NOT IN THAT. I realize it is coming from a place of honest good intent, but please once again pause and ask what God would have you say in this moment to your beloved sibling who is hurting and confused, approach first with love, uplifting, encouragement and compassion.
Lastly, God has gifted so many with beautiful gifts of healing, from ministers, pastors, and doctors. Please make it a part of our language when someone is crying out for help that we don’t discredit that anymore than we would seeing someone with a broken foot, we would be fully supportive of them being seen by a orthopedic doctor because God has gifted those physicians in the practice of healing bones, along with our prayers. The same applies to our psychiatrist’s, God has gifted these physicians in helping calm the chaos of the mind and make a path for our emotions, but like every other relationship we have to find the right balance and fit. The point is don’t be discouraged and let’s not discourage others from seeking professional help along with our mighty beautiful prayers. Thank you for reading, love and God’s blessings upon each of you.