“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?