Jesus loves me,
This I know.
For the Bible,
Tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak,
But He is strong.
From the time we are small children, this is a song many of us have learned. It almost seems that it’s a staple for children. It’s just ingrained in them. We grow older and we may not sing it as much. We have children of our own and of course, we teach it to them. I’ve taught it to my children. It was a favorite of my daughter’s to sing when she was toddling around in tiny pigtails. But today I find myself wondering if I really taught them the essence of that song. Did I teach them what it really means to be loved by Jesus? How big that love is? Did I teach them that it’s okay to be weak, because it is in our weakness that He is made stronger? If not, I have failed and I have new things to teach them.
I will be honest when I say that this blog will be hard for me to write. My heart hurts. In prayer this morning I felt led to write this, and my eyes have brimmed with tears since then. The thought of anyone being in so much pain, gripped by so much fear and hopelessness that they think they have no way out, or that their only way to escape is to take their life; it’s almost more than I can bear. But knowing that someone who has known truth, someone that has touched the Father, felt His love, extended that same love to others, served the kingdom and given of themselves, to know that they felt they couldn’t escape the despair in their mind. It’s almost more than I can bear.
Is it because they should have known more? They should have prayed and fasted more? No. A thousand times over, no. It is because Hell will fight God’s people in any way, and the mind is not off limits. It is because I know there have been times when I have missed the mark. How many times have I been so wrapped up in my life, in my own hurts and problems, that I neglected to be a safe place for brother or sister?
I can be perfectly honest with you when I say that until something of this magnitude touched my family in a very personal way, I didn’t understand. I can’t, not fully, because I didn’t experience it myself. But I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it with someone I love. I didn’t understand the power that a depressed or anxious mind has over a person. It consumes them. It makes them shake with fear. It makes them live in fear. It wraps it’s tentacles around everything they know, and makes them doubt it. I’ve watched an anxious, fear-ridden mind sit and wrack with sobs. I’ve felt the helplessness of standing there on the outside, fearing for them while they fear the unknown. I’ve also seen the shame.
It is perhaps the shame that is worse than the fear, worse than the hopelessness. Maybe they are in equal parts. But rest assured that shame plays a huge role. People don’t want to feel weak. Fathers don’t want to be seen as too weak to lead their children. Men don’t want to be seen as too weak to provide for their families. Women don’t want to be seen as petty, or too weak to handle the life that God has given them. You’re far too blessed to be so depressed. God is too good to be so sad. God can fix that. God can heal you. Pray about it some more. Buck up and think happy thoughts. Don’t dwell on the negative.
I’ve thought some of these same things. I didn’t know. I’m not an educated person. My blog has always been written off of my life experiences, my thoughts. I don’t need a college degree or special training to say this: We have to stop downplaying something that is so serious. It’s becoming so obvious to me that God is showing me that the things I used to consider weak are no weaker than the struggles I’ve faced. Just because I don’t fight the same battles as someone else doesn’t make their battle less than mine. In fact, I would say that their battle is harder and they are stronger for still standing, sitting, or even crawling their way through it.
Having a depressed mind doesn’t make someone weaker than me. As the children’s song should have taught us, we’re all weak. We’re all in need of our mighty God to hold us, to carry us through when we can’t. But we have placed a stigma on matters of the mind. We automatically label people as ‘weak’ and feel like they need to ‘get over it’. Well, what if they can’t? What then? Is it any wonder that people would rather suffer (some to extreme measures) than to open up to us, God’s people? We don’t understand it, it’s foreign and unknown to us, so we want them to push it back down, to hide it. Why? Because it makes us uncomfortable? It did me. The first time I watched the strongest person I know weep with the weight of hopelessness, when I watched them experience a panic attack that they truly thought they might not live through, it was quite uncomfortable. But guess what? It wasn’t a walk in the park for them either. It was embarrassing. They simultaneously wanted to hold me and push me away. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid. I did the only thing I knew was a sure-fire, proven way to make it through anything. I called on the name of Jesus and I held on. I loved them. Did it heal them? No. Did it let them see that whatever they went through, I was willing to walk that road with them? Yes.
I’m not praising myself. Actually, I’m quite ashamed at not having done more sooner. I’m sad that I didn’t hug harder, love more freely in the face of any weight they carried, I ignored the signs. When you see someone as a hero, a knight in shining armor, it’s hard to accept that they are weak. They’re human. They’re flawed. I’m weak and I’m flawed, but don’t you dare be too weak! Don’t you dare be weak in a way that I have too much responsibility! Don’t fight a battle that is so unknown to me, that it requires me to step out of my comfort zone. I remember the day like it was yesterday that I came face-to-face with the truth of my feelings. I had begun to resent someone I loved. Not because they were weak or broken, but because I was out of my comfort zone and facing something I didn’t understand. How trivial. It was a small matter then, and it’s an even smaller matter now. My comfort does not matter. Not in the grand scheme of life, and certainly not in the grand scheme of the Kingdom of God.
If there are people sitting on our pews, across the dinner table from us, laying in the bed next to us, or worshipping beside us that don’t feel they can come to us with their depression, fears, anxiety, panic, or loss of hope, then we are failing. We have dropped the ball. We’ve lost sight of what we are here to do. We’re here to love just like Jesus loves. We’re here to be His hands and feet. We’re here to shine light into the dark places. Even if those dark places attend our church or share our last names. It’s a lie to tell ourselves that the church is off limits for an attack on the mind. I would venture to say that we, as the church, are at the top of hell’s hit list. Satan doesn’t care if you were raised in the church. He doesn’t care how far you’ve come since you came into the church. Suffice it to say that Satan just doesn’t care. He will fight the church in any way possible and as someone close to me always says, The mind is his favorite play place.
We can’t bury our heads in the sand. We can’t make light of the weight that those around us carry. We may not understand, but we have to love them. If you don’t know what else to say or do, just love them. Be available to them. Be a safe place. Be their safe person. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone for them. I don’t have all the answers. Sadly, I will likely drop the ball again. But I’m going to pray. Oh, I’m going to pray. Pray for eyes that see a hurting person, legs that run to them, arms that hold them, ears that hear them, shoulders that take some of the weight they carry, and a heart that is sensitive to where God wants to lead me, no matter how far outside of my comfort zone it may be.
I don’t know every person that Jesus healed while he walked this Earth. They’re not all recorded. But somewhere amongst them, maybe more times than we think, a hurting mind was one of them. He didn’t set boundaries on who needed help more than others. He simply loved and healed and helped.
If you feel like you’re a weak link, too weak, too broken, too hopeless, remember this: we all are weak, it’s only Him that is strong.