Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
Nancy Virden (c)2013 and 2016
(1) Never Forget
She stretches her legs and groans. What a long weekend it has been. She worked too many hours driven by perfectionism, cleaned and cooked in preparation for a relative’s visit, and then drove for hours back home for Thanksgiving.
She is a little sad because her dad is struggling in a nursing home, far from his younger, more productive self. She is recently separated from her husband. There is family she will not see these holiday weeks due to distance of both miles and hearts. Sighing, she wonders if anything will ever be as happy as it seems for other people.
Then she remembers to count her blessings; it is Thanksgiving, after all. She reviews memories of her week and finds numerous reasons for which to be grateful.
- She has legs that work and can stretch them without pain.
- Her weekend was productive in important ways.
- She has a job.
- Her sons are glad to see her.
- Her car did not break down, and the weather was cooperative as she drove.
- Her dad kissed her hand and thanked her for coming.
- Distant family is reachable via text or a phone call.
- She has a nice living space where she can relax.
- She is warm, has plenty to eat and drink, and sleeps on a comfortable bed.
- God loves her.
By the time she arrives at this point in the list, she knows she cannot grumble. Not today. Her satisfaction grows as she remembers all she has not lost.
(2) Thanksgiving audio – God Does Not Waste Pain On Us
16 people say why they are thankful for their difficulties
(3) The Weird Secret to Gratitude
Do you remember the acrostic you did in elementary school to celebrate America’s Thanksgiving Day? “T stands for tomato because I like tomatoes,” “H stands for history class because I like Mr. Snode,” and so on? Did you learn anything about gratitude that way?
There’s a famous account of a woman who had only two tiny coins to her name. She gave them to a good cause. Standing nearby were rich men who donated oodles of money to support the same cause. An observer (who happened to be Jesus) noticed and said, “That woman gave more than all the rich men because they offered only what didn’t threaten their comfort. She gave up everything she had to live on.”
The more stuff one has, the less-likely one will be generous. There is some unspoken change in our perspective when we get too comfortable. It is as if the more we attain, the more we “need”, and the more we feel entitled to have what we want.
On the other hand, giving has an opposite effect. The more we give out of sacrifice, the more we want to continue to do so. It’s great to donate and support causes. If we want the greater blessing and change of heart, it is through giving away our excess, and allowing comfort to come from within. Then we will be full of thanks for the joy that far surpasses that of owning things.
(4) Who Will You Thank?
Who will you be thanking this year? Your parents? Friends? The store clerk who let you have the discount though you were a day late with the coupon? Who?
When I dread a chore (like cleaning my oven this morning), or eating reheated vegetables on a plate full of yummies, this is how I handle it so my day or meal is not ruined – I do the yucky stuff first. This morning I hopped out of bed and cleaned my oven. After that, nothing else seemed too bad.
In a way, that’s how I approach gratitude, too.
First, I thank the biggest entity in the room. That is God. When I acknowledge His role in the value and purposes of my life everything else seems less like a big deal.
I’m very grateful I will have company today for the holiday. I know Who prompted me to invite guests (when I was feeling sorry for myself because I thought I’d be alone), and Who provided all the food (as he prompted others to think of me when they went shopping.) I know Who gave me the space (because I prayed about how best to rearrange my little house last summer), and Who provided the huge table and chairs (two years ago I had none and a friend’s dad gave me a brand new set).
I know Who has never left me (even when others did). I know Whose Son came to earth to give his life for me (even when He didn’t have to). I know Who walks with me each day and why there is reason to have hope (especially when I feel it slipping away). I have hope because I have a heart-changing Savior who has made a way for me to spend forever with him.
I will thank everyone else, too. They are genuine blessings. I’ll thank God first, because he is the love we share.
Today’s Helpful Word
“Satisfy us each morning with Your unfailing love, so that we may sing for joy to the end of our days.”
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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.