Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
I’ll never forget Mr. Hammer.
As a tyke of merely four years, Mr. Hammer’s white hair, cane, and wicker porch rocking chair spelled out his age. Old. Very old.
On one of many escapes from my house across the street, I went to his door and knocked. He invited me in. We had a nice chat over lemonade. I asked if anyone else lived there and he showed me a picture of his wife and son- both killed in a car accident years earlier. I knew he was lonely and wanted to be his friend.
Then from outside we heard my name called, loudly and repeatedly. Mr. Hammer peered through his screen door, turned to me and said, “You had better go home, child. Please come back and visit.”
“I will!” Reluctantly I stepped onto his porch and returned to mom who was walking up and down the sidewalk looking for me.
That was the last time I ever saw Mr. Hammer.
After a good yelling, I was told never to talk to him again. Why? “Because we do not know him,” came the final answer.
Born to Care
For three years I felt guilty until someone told me he had died. It’s disappointing to think my family couldn’t have met him rather than destroy his and my hopes due to fear.
When JFK was assassinated, I only understood a man had been hurt. Our city hospital was nearby. Running toward it, intending to help the man feel better, I screamed in anger and disappointment when dad snatched me up and wouldn’t allow me to go. I was only two.
Perhaps caring about others is a trait with which one is born. Maybe this tendency can be scourged by hardship and fear. Then again, it was relatability that drew me to Mr. Hammer. He needed a friend and so did I.
Go for it
Whatever the nature or nurture debate about this may be, let me encourage you to embrace your desire to help, or to support someone else who does – especially children.
Yes, we must take care to have our needs met. Living to serve at the continued expense of our physical or mental health is unwise. Nevertheless, what a pity it is to shut down any part of the love this world so desperately needs.
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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, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral 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 are yours.