Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden
(The following is the beginning of Always the Fight, 2nd ed.)
In the black and white flicker, dark eyes on her pretty face peered through a looking-glass and straight into mine. Would she call my name? In anticipation, I leaned forward on all fours listening intently.
“I see Bobby and Tina and Laura and Joey and Donnie and Kimberly and…”
I remember Miss Barbara’s dark beehive hairdo and her magic mirror in the early sixties. Romper Room was a favorite television show of many preschool children in America, and the local hosts encouraged us to go to school and obey our parents. The close of each show was when she would look through a mirror frame out at the television audience and claim to see several children she would call by name.
It was exciting waiting to hear “Nancy.” Maybe my reasons were different from many other eager children in living rooms across the nation. I wanted her to notice me because it seemed no one else did. In an angry home where parents were preoccupied with their own adult issues, nurturing a little girl was often not on the priority list. Once, I sat alone on a porch swing at the front of my grandma’s house. She came out and sat by me for a few minutes, asking about my day. I remember being surprised and pleased. A grown-up talked to me!
So emotionally starved. And only four years old.
Having crossed the half-century mark recently, it is a daily surprise to look into the real mirror and see an older woman emerging. Fear of aging has been devastating to me in the past, yet one advantage is loud and clear. Hindsight. It is great to look back and make a mental map of the hundreds of times God has been there for me, how he has spared me, comforted me, and lovingly led me through hard life lessons.
If I could sum up in one word the Heavenly Father’s character as manifested in my life, it would be “tender”. He has never put me down, believes in me, has pledged to love me forever, and looks past my failures and doubts with his own heart breaking for the sins that have hurt me so much. The question is, why do I not relax and believe he is working out his purposes for me in the present? Does it require hindsight to see his hand?
Life changes. People change, sometimes unfortunately. Whirling events, both tragedies and happier highlights, appear to mark out the path ahead. Blindly, I may stumble forward feeling pummeled by circumstances out of my control. It is scary to perceive the future that way. Since God specializes in guiding the steps of the unseeing and fearful, will I learn to place hope in that fact?
One certainty is that God has been with me my entire life. What I see in my reflections back is a Heavenly Father who has my best interests at heart, a masterful hand that always has had everything under control. In my twenties, I asked God where he had been in the dark times. The answer I heard in my broken spirit was that he had been right there crying along with me.
I know he was. And he has never left.
Comments are always welcome (see tab below). NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with 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.