Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries
Gideon* was a great warrior, albeit an unlikely and reluctant one. He was not the son of a powerful family, nor was he in line to be the head of even that group. He was the youngest of the least, as he put it. Yet in the end, his nation called on him to be their ruler.
Early in this saga, Gideon’s attitude was primarily defeatism and mistrust in a God who he felt had let him down. In response to an angel who was serving as God’s mouthpiece and calling him to arms, Gideon pulled out the classic “why us?” and “why me?” cards. However, God apparently was having none of these excuses.
Continuing to speak through the angel, God challenged Gideon’s doubt, telling him to go in the limited strength he already had. He followed up with a rhetorical question, “Have I not sent you?”
February 6, 2012, was shortly after the first anniversary of the weakest moment of my life. Thirteen months after a suicide attempt, my mind was still in the “why me?” and daily struggling against an intimidating sense of worthlessness. God, speaking through scripture, challenged this unlikely and reluctant warrior to focus on him and take my eyes off the so-called impossible. “Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up,; do you not perceive it?” **
Gideon had an army of 32,000 and was facing a foe too great to be counted. God commanded he weed out all those who were afraid. 10,000 warriors remained. Another cut left Gideon and 300 brave souls to save their nation in a humanly impossible effort.
In 2011, emotional exposure terrified me. No way was my story going to be shared on a small-scale, let alone publicly. I heard on the radio, “Do not be afraid of your weakness, for that is the stage on which God’s power and grace shine most bright.” *** Then a preacher said, “Everywhere I stand is Your stage.” **** I thought these soon-to-be adopted mantras were to be applied in general terms.
Another reality has proven itself, however. He has me “on stage” literally everywhere I go – proclaiming my weakness in small talk (“what do you do?”), and among friends, new and old (“Oh, I can relate” and “don’t you think depression is a sin?”). In front of live audiences and on the internet, when I write a blog or book, and each time I reach out for opportunities there is that awkward moment when hesitancy to dive off the cliff of shame nearly shuts me up.
Everywhere is God’s stage, and as much as I’d like to pretend normalcy and present a polished image, he has me knocking that down in nearly every social situation…
…and proves his power and grace.
Friends, neighbors, and strangers approach me in desperation because of their depression or due to a suffering loved one. People tell me their stories because I am open about weakness and they feel safe to admit to theirs.
I know therapists who have given my book(s) to clients, pastors who changed how they minister to emotionally struggling members of their churches, individuals who have begun their journey to health, and two who changed their minds about attempting suicide.
It’s not me, folks. I am a trembling, often depressed, “youngest of the least.” Without any doubt, it is God who shows up and allows this daughter to participate in his work. Gideon’s 300 won. The numerous enemy was so frightened they blindly fought each other, the rest scattering long distances.
God proves his unquenchable competence and love in our weakness.
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 is yours.
****Jeff Bodziony. 2012. Forward Church, Cleveland, Ohio