Life can be so frustrating. Things can begin to pile up and then they push us over the edge. And we fall. Tonight I spent time talking with someone who is being pushed and is maybe too close to the edge.
Living with anxiety and depression can be hard for us but it can be terrifying for those we love. They can see the cycle happening and want to do something but everything they try doesn’t help. They sense the danger and can do nothing. This can lead to overreacting. Being anxious and feeling watched for signs of stress doesn’t make life easier. The sad part is that we know it is about love but we also can do nothing.
The books that came out in the 1950’s and 1960’s talked abut what life would be like if we were being watched. “Big brother” is always watching. This idea is unsettling. It takes a toll and makes life even more difficult. It adds on guilt for seeming to be a burden and making those around us afraid.
This is a heavy weight to carry. Someone watching our habits…sleeping…eating…living and questioning our level of wellness can actually set healing back. I don’t know what the answer is. To be loved is what all of us want and need but it can be overwhelming.
Each of us needs to find the middle path between our loved ones anxiousness and our own search for wholeness, wellness and ability to function on our own. We must accept their loving care but need them to know that we are aware of their fear of harm for us, understand but also need space to just be be ourselves.
I needed to pick something to read for lent. I like to tackle something that encourages me to grow. I may add something along with the one I have picked: The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. I read this book a long time ago and I have decided to revisit Nouwen’s wisdom. I have pulled out several others but I haven’t made up my mind about which one to tackle. I always have a few books on the shelf that I planned to read but never got to. I have chosen Plan B by Anne Lamott and Dreams, God’s Forgotten Language by John Sanford to choose from. All three are totally different and I will have to see what works for me after the Nouwen. The front of the Nouwen book say “In our own woundedness, we can become a source of life for others.”
I am reading this again because I have seen this to be so true in my own life. When we have experienced painful things we are more able to help others who have had similar experiences. They are helped to heal by our woundedness. If you have had no problems in your life it is hard to understand and empathize with the problems of others.
It is so important for us to share and reach out to others who are wounded by life. We can share the things that we have done to survive and give hope to those in pain. Others who suffer with anxiety and depression have said to me that if I have managed to live a life that has given me joy along with the pain and survived that they can too.
From The Servant Song
Do not be afraid to share your ups and downs, pains and sorrows, and the things you have learned along the way It can help someone have hope.
Recently I read an article about the factors that helped people live longer. It was a study by a group of physicians who found that the two most important things were not what I expected. The top of the list was being around people. Out and about doing anything that involved meeting with others. The next thing on the list was having a support system.
Usually the list is topped by things like exercise, diet, etc. It makes me think of how many people are completely alone. For people with social anxiety being with people is very difficult if not impossible. I home that some of the current research into anxiety and depression and the brain will find answers that will help.
It also means that those of us who have some understanding of mental and emotional problems must do all that we can to create better communication with others and foster clearer understanding. For those of us who struggle with both emotional and medical issues connected to these problems more understanding will help us to be a part of society and feel acceptance.
We have to continue to educate and remove the veil that has so long covered mental illness and made it like AIDS and Leprosy.
We too can live among others, have a wonderful support system and have long and happy lives.
Today I went to church with my husband. Our favorite retired minister was there. I always love his services as he melds the liturgy in different ways and it is always beautiful and meaningful. His sermon was wonderful. It is seldom that I take notes from a sermon but today I did because I wanted to think some more about the ideas and to share them.
He started by reading a short excerpt from one of his favorite authors whose name I didn’t get. The story was about a man who brought a newspaper every day from someone who was grumpy and rude yet this man was always pleasant and kind. “He said that he had no control over the grumpy man but did have control over himself and he chose to be kind. To return good for evil is a prescription for our own emotional/mental health.”
Pastor said ” we were created in the image of God and are called to behave like him. Life is not about how we act with other people but how we react.”
I found this to be very powerful. Too often we do react to the mood or actions of the person we are faced with. We return rude with rude, sad with sad, etc. The interesting thing is that if we do the reverse things change.
My father was not only a wonderful father but a unique man. I never heard him say something negative about someone else. People who knew him said the same thing. He always responded with kindness even with someone who was very angry. He told me that two things would happen….the whole situation would defuse or all hell would break loose. Either way he remained calm and kind.
We do have control over our behavior. I visit a physicians office where one of the employees was always a little brusque and not really pleasant. I made it my intention to make that change and spent time complimenting things (only genuine things and getting to know her. Be genuine for false is easily detected) and we now have a great relationship. I enjoy her and she always greets me with pleasure. A little kindness on my part well spent and a new relationship formed.
How we treat people makes a difference. We have to be genuine but we can be kind. I hope this is a step toward becoming the person God wants me to be.
Tonight I have been thinking about friendship. I think we all have many acquaintances but it is friends who change our lives. I feel blessed to have four amazing friends. They are with me through thick and thin. I hope that they feel they can count on me to do the same.
Life may not offer many opportunities to experience true friendship. Sometimes things intervene and don’t give us the chance to bond in “agape” love. In my life experiences I can see that part of having this kind of relationship depends on how much we are willing to give. If we are unwilling to share our true selves then deep friendship doesn’t happen. We have to learn to open ourselves knowing that we can be hurt in the process.
I share joy and sorrow with my friends. We hold each other up in the tough times an rejoice in the good ones. We have all had our share of pain and loss and that has bound us even more together.
I guess my hope is that I can continue to be the friend they need and have them remain mine.
Christmas is about here. I think today ( Christmas Eve) may be one of my favorite days. Sometimes anticipation is better than the actual event. However, I know that tomorrow will bring joy.
There are different thoughts about the importance of Christmas. Some theologians see Christmas as the central focus of their theology. They are called Incarnation Theologians. I am one of those (although I don’t consider myself a theologian). Somehow I like the idea that the greatest sacrifice on the part of Christ was leaving heaven. This doesn’t mean that his life, death and resurrection were not important.
There are others who see the resurrection as most important. I guess in reality I see his birth, life, death and resurrection as a whole….no one part more significant than the others. I don’t know what kind of theology this is but it is the complete image that connects me. His whole being and all that he offered is amazing. He truly is “God with us.”
He came as an infant, vulnerable and fragile. He grew up among us learning from those around him. His life and ministry showed us how to be wholly human. (Notice that the word wholly contains “holy”). He was radical in his time…accepting women, lepers, tax collectors and other outcasts as equal human beings.
If only we could follow his path of acceptance and love the world would be a different place.