Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014 Nancy Virden
His name is Nate. By now he is about seventeen years old. When I knew him he was 8 to 11. His personality is that of a jokester, and what he found amusing many around him did not. I’ve never seen him be mean, however his humor could once in a while land on the border of obnoxious.
To know him is to love him, though. I knew he was a child and his odds of growing beyond his style of funny were nearly 100%. He had already been maturing before my eyes, and spending time with him was easy. I imagine because he is exceptionally bright, that his jokes now are more audience-friendly.
Nate was nine years old the seventh year I directed a summer program at our church. Months of planning, days of decorating, meetings with volunteers, and weeks of advertising led up to registration day. All involved anticipated a substantial response and eagerly waited for children to arrive.
“Here they come!” someone said. One, two, three, they bounced into the church. Nine, ten, eleven, twelve – where was the crowd? Nate ran in last, laughing and wide-eyed at the metamorphosis of our building into an indoor space station.
To put this into perspective, our small church had over ninety children from the community who attended our weekly children’s club. Plans for this summer event involved rotating busy schedules for the teachers, gathering myriad supplies and prizes! Oh, the prizes.
Of course I was disappointed and the thought of all that wasted time crossed my mind. Still, I loved the ones who came and knew they deserved our best efforts.
Nate remained a regular attendee of the weekly club the following year. One night many months later, I overheard him talking to his friend. “I’m a Christian,” he said. “I heard at that space class that God loves me. Mrs. Virden said I can ask Jesus to forgive my sins and clean out my heart, so I did.”
Thirteen. Failed program. Waste of my time.
Easter is a great opportunity to remember the One who gave all he had for each one of us. Jesus said that as the Good Shepherd, he would always search for the one lost sheep. He found me, he found Nate, he is searching still.
Apparently, Nate and I are worth God’s best gift- the life of his Son Jesus. His unfailing compassionate love teaches that none of us are a waste of his time.
Have a blessed Easter.
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 kozzi.com