The Lord is near to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18)
The Holidays of 2015 are here! The turkey has been devoured! The busiest traffic day has been navigated! Black Friday and Cyber Monday have inundated the shopping malls and internet. Decorations are being launched! Everywhere Christmas music is heard 24/7! Calendars are jammed with celebrations. Family and friends capture our attention. And perhaps, we will remember that it all began unpretentiously with the birth of a Baby in a smelly stable located in a hick town called Bethlehem!
However, for most in the world that Father sees, it will not happen this way. Rather than looking for presents under a tree some will be scavenging for “food” in garbage dumps. Others, like Joseph and Mary, will be walking, mile after mile, looking for shelter, a safe place to lay their heads. Some Christians will only remember Christmas 2014, their homes and church buildings now demolished by war. Still others will be in hospitals, receiving little help because there is little medical equipment, little medicine and few trained professionals. Walls and bars will encapsulate many, both the guilty and innocent alike. The battlefield, airplane or nuclear submarine will be the residence of thousands. These are some of the world that will cause Father to reflect on the reason he sent His Son on that first Christmas.
But, I’m thinking of yet another type of person. They may be in your family; part of your circle of friends, neighbors, business associates, clients, and church attendees or, any stranger that you meet during the season. Most likely you will not recognize the turmoil brewing under their façade of Christmas cheer. Unless, of course, YOU are such a person!
I’m speaking to us suffering with mood disorders—a.k.a. mental illness. “One in four adults—approximately 61.5 million Americans—experience mental illness in a given year. One in 17—about 13.6 million—live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder” (according to the National Institutions of Health). According to years of research the holidays for us can be extremely daunting. I’ll leave it to the professionals to explain the causes. As one who walks “the edge” now and then, my purpose is to simply draw attention to the first step of healing: coming out of hiding.
Genesis records: “Immediately Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves. When they heard God strolling in the garden, they hid from God in the trees of the garden. God called to the Man: “Where are you?” He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. So I hid.” Since the Fall the natural response of humankind is to cover-up and hide because we fear exposure. This is our default reaction!
Now, those of us with mental illness become experts at covering-up and hiding. Mental illness carries a heavy social stigma. People will accept any dis-ease as “normal” except mental illness. That’s beyond the comfort zone of most! In such an environment we feel deeply frightened! So, not wanting to be ostracized and/or rejected we cover up the dis-eased thoughts and feelings in our spirits. As best we can we attempt to play “normal”! Only, as things spiral downward the game becomes extremely difficult if not impossible. To top it off we become increasingly lonely. Mother Teresa said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness!”
The first step of AA is: “We admitted ….” And so it is with mental illness. There is no healing in hiding! We must acknowledge the reality of our torturous inner world. The spigot of our spirit must be turned ON even though we will be ravaged by a tsunami of fear! At that point your Creator Father speaks these tender words: “I am near to the brokenhearted; I rescue those whose spirits are crushed.”
As a chronic depressive I’m encouraging you to take this first step of healing. Go to a quiet place with no distractions (that means no cell phone!). Listen to the song below entitled “Anchor Me!” Let the words slowly simmer in your wounded spirit. Let them become your prayer to a loving Father. If you become agitated or afraid, return to Father’s word: “I am near to the brokenhearted; I rescue those whose spirits are crushed!” Don’t be surprised if the Enemy tempts you to abort the effort. Remember, he wants to destroy you. So, persistently return to the process until you begin to take ownership of your thoughts and feelings. Don’t worry about the time! Father is extremely patient! What I can promise is this: eventually you will be enabled to embrace your thoughts and feelings without fear in the presence of one person: your Creator Father. He is the first step of healing!
Check out the lyrics for Anchor Me by clicking here.