Tag Archives: pain

God Does Not Waste Pain On Us

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

woman raising her right hand
Photo by Murilo Folgosi on Pexels.com

God does not waste pain on us. For me, it took despair and suicide attempts to discover value in living. Those ruins of loss and struggle have become building blocks for the restructuring of joy and the real me.

A man named Paul wrote half of the Bible’s New Testament. He also strained against something he figuratively called “a thorn in the flesh.” Three times he prayed for it to go away. God’s answer was that it was through Paul’s weakness that God would prove himself to be enough to keep Paul going.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

Do you think anyone in Paul’s time, or even Paul would have imagined that the persistence of his “thorn” would become a powerful lesson reaching countless numbers of people for two thousand years?

We do not always know why we suffer. For most of five re-building years following my dive into major depression, I tried to make sense of personal value and purpose. Remembering Paul, my broken spirit almost daily asked God, “Can my thorn also be a blessing? Will you ever allow me to help other people again?”

One afternoon at a 12-step meeting, a young woman shared that she was trying to escape the trauma of being raped multiple times by her youth pastor.

An inward nudge from Jesus’ Holy Spirit pushed me to go talk to her. We were strangers, yet she searched my eyes in desperation.

“Why did God send him?” she said. “Why did he send a man of God to rape me?”

She could not be free from the chain of addiction and self-medication until she was free of her deepest anguish.  It was not the horrific memories nor lack of safety that had her bound. It was fear that she had lost the God she had always known to be good. 

Referencing the Bible book of Matthew (chapter 7, verses 15,16), I said, “Have you heard about wolves in sheep’s clothing?”

“Yes!” She rose in her chair. “Is that what happened?”

“He was not a man of God.” I said. “He was a liar and a wicked man who used the church to cover evil. God loves you. He did not send that man to rape you.”

“Really? He was not a man of God?” Her eyes were wide.

“No. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

If I could ever find words to describe the scene playing out in her eyes- it was as clear as a movie. From desperate fear and searching to flickers of hope,  then wide-eyed wonder and finally, freedom.

The timing that day was perfect, and the God who knows all hearts used my unsteady one to speak life to her dying one. In one moment, the Restorer of souls fashioned ruins into life-giving shelter.

Stone hearts become flesh again, human weakness is covered by divine strength, spiritual poverty becomes wealth in faith. Chains turn into testimonies, lost is found, damned is saved, and pieces of shattered minds are Tenderly gathered by the Savior.

This is what Jesus does for people. This is his amazing grace.

Your ruins have purpose in the Master Builder’s hands. If you are willing to be free,  God will incorporate all that is broken into formation of the you he always intended.

Today’s Helpful Word  

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 

Three times I pleaded with the LORD to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -Paul

 

**** 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 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. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

Comparing Mental Health to “Real” Issues? Not Fair

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

“There’s been a tsunami, people have lost their homes, and there is so much suffering in the world besides. C’mon people. Get it together!”  Jennifer  was frustrated, and although she also was struggling with depression, she believed the stresses others in the Intensive Outpatient Program were facing could not compare to the “real” issues of 2011.

About a dozen persons struggling with severe depression, bipolar depression, and other disorders comprised this group. Several had attempted suicide, some more than once.  Jennifer did not know anyone’s level of pain or personal history.  With only her experience to use as a measuring rod, she scolded members to “get it together,”  adding to feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness. 

I disagree passionately with comparing pain between people, or against ours. The analogy I like to use is that of a stubbed toe and broken leg.  We know a broken bone hurts more intensely at first and for a longer period than a banged foot. It also requires more health care from professionals. Yet will we say the toe pain does not hurt? If we stub a toe,  we will certainly say ouch and limp for few minutes!

In the moment, the throbbing toe demands our attention. If only for a few seconds, we will be unable to function as usual. In the world of mental disorders, the intensity and duration of symptoms can vary. If dysfunction lasts for days or weeks or months, who are we to offhandedly dismiss another person’s experience?

Yes, the world is a collision of serious problems. Comparing trouble to trouble, we will find those who seem to have it worse. If  looking at mental illness from only one perspective however, we can fall into judgementalism and falsely accuse people who are doing their best of making too much of little.

Next time you or someone you know faces depression, anxiety, or any mental illness, remember the stubbed toe. Be kind to each person who struggles to cope.

Today’s Helpful Word

James 3:17

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

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.

*picture by LUSI on rgbstock.com

I solation

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2015 Nancy Virden

photo-24779100-frowning-woman

I  solation.

I am not sure it is ok to bother anyone with my

happiness, pain, proud moment, fear

loneliness

I am by myself with no one coming to help, no one to rescue me

of course!

I am inadequate, ugly, stupid, always making mistakes

people are hurt by me, tired of me

Who are these who tell me to turn my mood around, change my thoughts?

I am weak, cannot bring improvement to this world!

they do not see

I’m not worth fighting for

I will not tell anyone of my experiences or opinions

I’ll skip the meeting, crawl under the covers, not call anyone and refuse calls,

stay home

I’m ashamed, and

better off alone.

************

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 can be yours.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com

Four Stigmatized Words that Freak People Out: Word 1

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virden

photo-24746059-sad-female-over-white-background.It scares people. I don’t know why it does, but bring up suicide outside a counselor’s office and people get squeamish. 

Mental Health advocates can shout that we are safer and healthier if we talk about it, but until people know how to discuss it, the conversations won’t happen.

At mention of this word, I’ve seen eyes grow wide, heads turn away, and feet start to shuffle awkwardly.

I’ve heard excuses for having to leave the room, and polite comments by those with no intention of understanding more. It is a shame that the word ostracizes hurting people. Those touched by it often find themselves alone.

Look at the difference over how Robin Williams and Joan Rivers are mourned. Two highly successful and popular comics died within a month of each other, yet after the suicide of Mr. Williams, most news reporters and commentators seemed angry and confused. Almost at once, people stopped talking about him. Ms. Rivers’ face is still on magazine covers and in the rumor mill. Her life is celebrated.

Maybe my point of view is skewed (very possible), but suicide remains a subject people speak of in hushed tones. It’s a secret no one wants to share even though informed conversations help people seek treatment instead of hiding.  

Since I’ve been talking about it openly, some people have backed off from me. It’s ok, I would rather hang out with friends who get it anyway. However, the enormous shame I am expected to carry is revealed in how often I am distrusted.  

The United States can and will turn people away at the border who have a history of mental illness and attempted suicide. Imagine that. Maybe for you this doesn’t seem too odd, after all stigma teaches us to be suspicious. Perhaps you think it is reasonable to question what a person with mental illness will do next.

I know probably thirty or more people who have attempted suicide. It’s not rare, and the nicest, least violent folks can reach despair. We are not crazy either. Suicide is composed mostly of one thing – the pain of life has exceeded our dread of death. 

It is impossible for most people to relate to an idea so extreme and opposite of the normal approach to survival. Relating is not necessary, acceptance of the person (not of suicide as a solution), is invaluable. 

Compassion for the hurting- even those in extreme emotional torment- is an act of love, not fear.

******

NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. 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 can be yours.

*picture from qualitystockphotos.ocm

 

 

 

 

A Tangible Love – Poem

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

You miss a sense of self

Your identity is gone

Purpose seems invisible

You question living on

 

Your pain goes unattended

Pleas stick to the roof of your mouth

Trapped in an imagined cage

You cannot just walk out

 

Sightless friends and family

Stare into your void eyes

“I’m ok” is not questioned

While you scream inside, “why?”

 

You need someone tangible

To welcome your desp’rate cry

To listen without judgement

And help you to not  die

 

pulling hands

Despair will slowly crumble

With the holding of your hands

Healing begins to take place

With one who understands

 

close up of a beautiful young woman looking upwardsThen you  stretch out your heart

To God whose love is real

You know now, having touched him

He’s through human hands revealed.

 

*********

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences 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 can be yours.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos