Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014 Nancy Virden
Realistic. Experienced. Knowledgeable.
Ignorant. Close-minded. Opinionated.
We all know people who fit the latter category and yet claim the first. If our goal is to know and understand little we will reach it, and maintain our success for a lifetime.
I want to introduce you to Leon, a man I met twenty-seven years ago. We were in our twenties. He invited me to travel with him to a women’s prison where we sang and offered encouragement. My expectation was that he and I would lift the prisoners’ spirits, but they actually lifted mine. Those women are unforgettable in their desire for change, and I pray for them often which changes me.
Leon had impressed me as someone with strong opinions yet kind. That is, until two incidents came to my attention.
A young woman who was fighting cancer told me some people suggested she was dying due to lack of faith. “Some people” included Leon.
A few senior citizens in our church were distrusting of young, ambitious ideas. Leon said loud enough for them to hear, “We have to hope they will hurry up and die.”
These stories jarred me. Leon had apparently applied his opinion of ‘right’ to relationships. His self-perceived knowledge and experience failed to create anything good. He had a serious case of ignorant, close-minded, and opinionated thinking.
However, did you forget what I did in the prison ministry story? I went to the prison expecting to be the inspiration for some wayward women. My closed-mind had to be opened in order for me to see how God loves and meets everyone exactly where they are.
What if our goal is to listen with an open mind? With insight we can grow knowledge and discernment in humility. Love will then produce kindness, patience, and truth.
That is our mandate as humans and supports.
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