Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
(c)2014 Nancy Virden
His stride was long and confident, and he carried the baseball bat with as much self-assuredness. Converse shoes scraped the dirt around home plate in a back and forth motion, both releasing and agitating adrenaline in his body.
A small crowd cheered and hooted as the pitcher checked for base stealers. The ball rocketed past the batter’s torso and slammed into the catcher’s mitt.
I’m being a little facetious. This was in 1976, and both teams consisted of conservative religious types who believed tattoos were for drunken sailors, not converts. Besides, the player up to bat was their pastor.
Honestly, I have no recall of anyone criticizing him, but I did hear statements like, “That’s from his past,” and that made it okay. I think it was a Popeye-type tattoo of an anchor which is if we think about it, is appropriate for believers in God as an anchor for their souls.
As tattoos rise in popularity forty years later, it can be fun to see the creativity and messages people are trying to send. Some tattoos are just for the owner to appreciate while others are for the world to see. Admittedly, the tattoo of a semi-colon on a young woman’s upper arm made me curious a few years ago. It had to mean something, otherwise why would anyone want that?
Now I know why. A semi-colon is placed where a sentence might have ended, but the author chooses to continue writing. As an author with a suicidal past, this sentiment is lovely to me. It fits every area of my life. I could quit smiling, socializing, writing, or working. Friendships could cease, and growing spiritually could stop. I know these are possible because each of them have happened during major depressive episodes. One option is to quit trying.
However, this author chooses to finish the work. As that unfolds there will be periods of time I have no idea what to write next. Life has its joys and struggles and no one but The Author knows how it will arrive at The End.
As are books, I suspect each person’s life story is filled with repeated opportunities to persist or not. That is why a simple punctuation mark is so beautiful. A “semi-colon” is at the end of hope, dashed dreams, and broken relationships. It marks the beginnings of new days. It stands between promise and fulfillment, hurt and forgiveness, despair and joy. There is nothing ugly (or ungodly!) about wearing a reminder that God is not done with an individual’s life.
Will I get a tattoo? My kids would faint, relatives would roll in their graves, and some (not all!) conservative religious types would be sure to frown. Still, as The Author has my name carved into his palm, maybe I will choose to have a permanent punctuation mark on my wrist daily reminding me he is not finished writing this daughter’s tale.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.
*picture from qualitystockphotos.com