CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
(c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
This is a response to a text I received this week. “What is the difference between babies and onions?” To start are natural contrasts: babies eat, onions are eaten; babies laugh and make goofy faces, onions have only one expression; babies’ bodies grow, onions grow new onions.
Our relationships with babies and onions are polar opposites. Babies need us; onions could not care less we exist. Babies get excited when we enter a room, onions not so much. Babies are little lovable humans we want to cuddle and prevent from harm; onions are our targets. Our aim is to destroy and devour onions. Yum!
Babies are often unexpected. Perhaps we intend to finish school, or develop a hefty savings, or stop at two children. Then, surprise! Here comes junior or junior-ess and we have to adjust. Onions are part of our plans. Seeds are nurtured in a garden, we write “onions” on our grocery lists, and voila! Our kitchens and favorite recipes are full of them. We are in control over our decisions concerning onions.
Babies cry. This can be disturbing or at least calls for our attention. We do everything we can to stop the crying. To the contrary, onions make us cry. While tears roll down our face we may not enjoy it, yet we choose this temporary suffering because we want delicious additions to dinner. Babies make us cry sometimes also, but not because they’ve squirted us in the eye (usually.) We can feel helpless when it comes to babies and tears.
Babies stink. Onions stink. Babies clean-up well and we want to hold them and breathe in that new-baby smell. We have a say in how much babies stink.
Babies make messes big and small. Clean-up is a constant for years. Eventually powder, brooms, and wet rags are not enough for successful restoration. Damage done by other children, adults, school systems, the internet, and various outside influences bring unfortunate changes to once-clean souls, minds, and hopes. Onions only shed a little skin, and bad ones are easily tossed to protect good ones. We cannot preserve a baby’s innocence.
Babies develop layers of personality, beliefs, emotions, and self-protection. Onions come with layers that we purposefully peel away without double thinking it. Yet when babies are older, and they try to express themselves, sometimes they hear, “Be quiet,” “You shouldn’t feel that way.” “Big boys don’t cry,” or “Be a good girl and get your act together.”
For onions and humans, peeling back layers can be uncomfortable. Just imagine how much more mental health will exist if babies are encouraged from onset to talk out their experiences and emotions without fear of judgment. Admitting to humanness will no longer drive us to isolation or a sense of superiority. Humility will free relationships as we stop hiding, and turning to God will not threaten our sense of control. Therapy will not have to be major surgery, and addiction will not have to be an escape.
In homes, churches, and schools, we can influence our corner of the world for mental and emotional health by embracing vigorous honesty and acceptance. This is something onions will never be able to do.
Today’s Helpful Word
Psalm 32: 1,2
“What joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, for those whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record is cleared of guilt, and whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”
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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.