Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Reaffirming Love

“I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you…..  Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.”  2Cor. 2:5-8  NLT

I would have never thought that when I first held David in my arms that I’d be part of a family that personally is touched by one of their own being an undesirable in society. He was a “normal” child. At least we thought he was. Looking back, there were signs of things to come. Things started changing in his mid- teens. At first we thought he was just hanging out with the wrong kids and/or making bad choices.  There was some of that, but this went a whole lot deeper. As time progressed, and his untreated Borderline Personality Disorder got worse, there was more and more trouble which caused more and more hurt. Many people ran the other way when his disorder manifested itself at their expense. 

If anyone knows even the smallest bit about someone with this disorder, there’s a lot of insecurity attached with it. How does one decide when to let them fall, when to pick them up, who to tell, how to protect the rest of the family, and so on. It’s a constant pray for discernment.

I remember one such time when David was down and discouraged. He was in his 20’s and living somewhere in Waukesha with a new friend after a short time of homelessness. He had little money and hardly any food. I picked him up, took him to the food pantry, got him some groceries, took him to lunch, and just hung out with him for a little bit. I felt like it was a pretty good day for both of us. He seemed to be making some better choices.

A few days later I saw him again and he was already out of food. He had sold some of the food to buy alcohol. I knew how I reacted to this news was critical. I was disappointed and hurt and realized that even if I didn’t give him money, he’d find a way to get what he wanted. Why this surprised me, I have no idea, since David was resourceful to say the least. Anyway, back to the story.

Instead of reacting negatively, I simply ignored the situation as if it didn’t happen. I could tell David was not in a place to receive anything and he was quite discouraged. Besides that, what would it have accomplished for me to come down on him? He already knew how I felt and was feeling the guilt without me having to say anything. We had some conversation, I did go with him for a few more groceries, and I tried to encourage him. One thing I always told him is that we all mess up, but that doesn’t mean to give up. 

If you notice the verse says “REAFFIRM your love”. That tells me that the person that caused the trouble is someone that you know and love already. When mental illness touched our family it displayed some pretty ugly stuff. How I reacted was very important to helping or hurting David and I had to make hard choices with him often.

I could choose to give up or not.
I had choices of how I was going to react to the situation.
I could choose whether to discourage or encourage him.
Every day was a choice whether to seek God in every moment.
I had a choice whether to forgive him or hold it against him.

Every day is filled with choices. What do I choose? What do you choose?

Friday, February 2, 2018


One of the greatest gifts that David’s diagnosis has given me is perspective. I never would have guessed when David was born that I would learn so much about others, myself, and God from him and his struggles with mental illness. 

Perspective: I gained new insight into the homeless and their families. I could understand not only the pain of not finding your homeless loved one, but also the pain of not allowing them back into your home once you’ve found them.

Perspective: I learned so much about those in jail and prison. I could relate to those that believed that jail was the best place for their loved one and the emotional and financial cost to the families of those that have someone in jail.

Perspective: I understood the word “stigma” especially from many within the Church. The shunning and isolation was often painful and gave me deep sensitivity towards others that may be going through similar struggles. It also made me realize how I perpetuated stigma before I understood what mental illness was.

Perspective: I discovered more how God feels when we mess up and we refuse to listen to his wise counsel. It is so very difficult to watch and know that you’re powerless to help your loved one when they refuse help or don’t want to be helped. It’s gut-wrenching. How much more must it be for the God that created us and only wants good for us.

Many scripture verses that used to puzzle me or were difficult to relate to became some of my favorite verses because of new perspectives on suffering, sorrow, and grieving.

As David was going down this often dangerous path of destruction it was easy for me to see the poor choices he was making because of his illness and the toll it was taking on his very life. As I’d reflect on his choices God would ever so gently remind me of my poor choices and the planks (Matthew 7:3-5) in my eyes.

I gained perspective in so many areas of my life and because of that, David’s journey with mental illness was the biggest catalyst in helping me grow in my love for God and others. It would have been easy for me to let these new perspectives make me bitter, angry, or even reject God in my life and sometimes I didn’t choose very well. But, I always had a choice and you do too. Choose God and let him teach and grow you. You won’t be disappointed!