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27th of April

Encouragement for the Broken and Stigmatized


I stepped out of the shadows and declared—on Facebook—during Holy Week—that I was suffering with clinical depression. I had hit the hard floor of desperation on Wednesday before Maundy Thursday in the midst of a medication change, one of several I’d been through over the past twenty years.

So why did I dare post and ask for help?  Because too many don’t.  People are suffering and dying all over the world from depression.  Consider the statistics (World Health Organization, February, 2017):

  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and “a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.”   

 

  • The U.S. ranks third (behind India and China respectively) in incidence of clinical depression, which WHO describes as far more serious than “the usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges of every day life.”

 

  • More than 300 million people worldwide are affected by clinical depression.

 

  • Close to 800,000 die due to suicide each year.

 

  • Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds.

 

  • Less than 50% of those who suffer receive treatments known to alleviate depression. Why?  Lack of resources. Lack of trained health-care providers. Social stigma.

 

Yes, social stigma still swirls around all “mental” illness. Truth is, there are folks who find it easy to relegate souls to the land of the “crazy” or to the camp of the “sinning” so they don’t have to admit and deal with their own broken, whatever it may be.

The ancients had their bleeding, their blind, their demonized.  Jesus loved them all—touched them all—comforted them all—longed to set them all free.

Jesus is the same today. He doesn’t stigmatize.  He doesn’t shame.  He longs to touch our scared and sick places. He longs to love every bit of us back to health, wasting nothing, using everything to help draw others to Himself for their own healing.

But Jesus can’t heal what we won’t let Him have.  Perhaps that’s why Jesus always asked if people wanted to be healed.  He doesn’t pound down our doors.  Jesus knocks to invite, not to invade.

Come, all who are weary and I will give you rest.

So all this stigma?

We don’t have to keep dying from the lie that any bit of our broken defines the whole of us now.

We don’t have to allow anything or anyone to push us into the shadows of shame, even ourselves.

We can choose to believe who God says we are—His beloved.

And we can choose to let ourselves be loved by those who keep company with Christ—who know how to love in Spirit and in Truth.

Isn’t it time we step back into Light of His Love and Truth?

Isn’t it time to shake off shame and grab God’s hand? 

Isn’t it time to stop arguing with our “enemies” and trying to change our “miserable friends”?

Isn’t it time to connect honestly and vulnerably with God and caring others—to ditch our pride, to allow ourselves to be helped and healed?  To keep doing this compassionate and messy stuff of connecting, this giving and receiving, because THIS is the Gospel Way that leads to Life?

Isn’t THIS the international compassion most needed today?  Might THIS not be the way to drive most depression down?

There’s manna in all our deserts.  And plenty of Living Water.  More than enough.  Will we open our hands, our mouths, our hearts, our minds?  Will we step out of hiding and receive healing from the heart of God He so often pours through people?  And then, after refreshing, will we go and feed the other hungry and water the other thirsty?

 

Visit me here tomorrow for a photographic walk through the Arizona desert rich with metaphor for the downcast and weary.  More manna for your soul!

 

 

 

 

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Come stroll the trails with me on our 44 acre Midwest horse farm where I seek God in the ordinary and always find Him--the Extraordinary--wooing, teaching, wowing me with Himself. Thanks for visiting. I hope you will be blessed!

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