Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse (c) 2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
Sarah felt lost. Her thoughts fluctuated between I do not need anyone, to I am bad for needing anyone, to why does no one care?
Her sense of aloneness and guilt exacerbated her doubt she was lovable at all. Shame joined the mental torture.
At the same time, her behavior told a different story. She was friendly and funny. Her need for affirmation was great. At times she realized she was fishing for approval, yet most often was unaware.
Her spirit had been crushed by absence of love from significant family members. Early in life she learned she was on her own. In second grade, a friend apologized that she would not be able to attend Sarah’s birthday party. Sarah cried, not because she was sad, but because she was in awe that someone cared enough to consider coming to her party.
The hole in her heart caused her to search for love in unhealthy ways. She truly did not know better. She was hungry, starving really, and the only solution was love.
Jesus said that when we see “one of the least of these” who is hungry and feed them, it is the same as doing it for him. That is because his love for hungry people is so great, he is blessed when their needs are met. He also loves givers, and rewards us when we become so.
He was speaking of those who are poor financially. He meant literal hunger and literal food. In another place he spoke of those who hunger for righteousness.* That is, people who desire to honor God. In the same teaching, he promised blessing for those who mourn.**
God is one who cares intimately about our inner being. We can care too when someone like Sarah enters our sphere. One way to do this is to offer time and listening. Perhaps we can help her find a good counselor or therapist and get her there. A simple and meaningful way to let a person know they matter is to say so. Emails, texts, calls, visits… all make a difference.
Beware becoming someone’s sole support. Sarah did not need a human savior, although she felt she did. One way to tell if a line is crossed, is to check if the relationship is changing. Friends do not become therapists. Pastors do not become on-call servants. Parents do not become doctors. Discourage dependence on you by not saying yes to every plea.
We can point someone to Christ and God’s love without judgment and criticism. By expressing sincere acceptance, we extend his compassion. God’s love is so vast that our sins, flaws, mistakes, and even negative self-talk are not enough to make it stop.
Without question, God says we have to believe he exists. It is also imperative to believe that his Son Jesus, paid for our sins on the cross. This same Jesus resurrected and lives now as our Lord and Savior. These are foundational and necessary tenets of saving faith.
People like Sarah will begin to experience joy when they realize their inherent value. God’s love shines through the Bible and in our spirits. It is big enough to fill the emptiest caverns of need.
Counseling helped Sarah begin to see her worth as God sees her. Eventually she no longer yearned for people to meet her deepest need. God’s love has filled her to the brim, and even difficult circumstances no longer diminish her peace of mind.
Today’s Helpful Word
Matthew 25: 37, 40
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you…?’ … The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges. 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, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.
*Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
**Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
-empty heart by XYMONAU; cross heart BA1969, both of rgbstock.com