Some may be appalled at the honesty and transparency of what I write below. I have prayed hard and sought input from godly people I trust most. My husband and I know our daughter better than any. We know her heart for God and that, more than anything, she wants to love Him and others. She desires to see His kingdom expand on this earth. So does our whole family, broken as we are. With that, I offer a raw piece seeking to honor her as well as our Lord. I pray these words will give you comfort and hope in whatever storm you may encounter.
So what does she do when the one she loves breaks—when the one she traveled half way round the world to pull up and into her arms, making her an orphan no more—falls apart?
What does she do when visiting hours are over and her 22 year-old daughter screams, “MOM, don’t leave me! Please! Don’t leave me here!” as she runs past the masking tape line they put on the carpet—her boundary from the outside world?
She sees her child, now grown, held back by a man in black with a silver badge and nurses on both sides telling her she can’t go. And the scared girl’s mother walks on, covering her mouth to stifle her sobs. The mother—she can’t look back because she can’t bear to cause any more pain for this fragile one—this broken one—who does not understand.
She heaves three words through her cries. It’s all she can think of to say . . .
“Help us Jesus!”
My friend puts her arm around my shoulders as we walk straight ahead and out the locked unit. She tells me I’m a good mom, a wonderful mom, like she just read my doubting mind.
I want to believe.
But there are other voices, actual voices . . .
Slicing words of certain family members saying and implying we are the cause of her problems. Are we? Should we just lighten up and let them BE? Will that make everything fine?
Doctors who know us and our children say no. Our closest friends who know all our good, bad, and ugly say no.
There are still so many in our modern times who do not understand how brains can break, how neurotransmitters can fail, how heredity affects. Surprisingly, many in our modern times still do not know what bipolar disorder and psychosis are.
And then there’s the church, the place I once thought to be a refuge in storms like ours now.
Believing that surely those who call themselves Christians will love as Christ, I’ve learned that sometimes those who think they are so close to God are the worst stone-throwers. Good-intentioned, too many professing Christians tend to spiritualize everything in an effort to simplify out of their own need to make sense.
Maybe there is sin involved? Maybe it’s a demon? Maybe we’re just not following Christ closely enough? Maybe we just lack enough faith? Maybe our parenting isn’t—? Isn’t what?
Maybe, the truth is, we just live in a broken world where brains and emotions and bodies just break down—just because. And maybe, it might be a good idea to stop trying to explain away, simply and conveniently, like boxing up Christmas ornaments and putting them on the shelf where they belong, exactly like last year.
Life is not always neat. So often, it’s messy. And too many troubles are beyond our ability to understand fully. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why Jesus tells us not to judge? And to pray for wisdom and discernment?
There are no answers beyond the fact that we are all—each one of us—broken apart and falling to pieces—even if we think we’re perfectly fine. I suppose everyone has to hold onto something to make sense of all this madness and keep themselves from falling further apart.
Is it helpful? Is it humane? Is it really experiencing and giving true love?
And what about looking upon and dealing with unknowns? How do you love and minister to people who are grieving? How do you sit with a young woman who is flipping rapidly between despondent, depressive suicide threats one minute and giddy, euphoric laughter the next, telling all in the room she’s a medical doctor and has just signed her own release forms? How do you respond to someone you love looking you straight in the eye and stringing words in a mishmash of nonsense?
I pray. We pray. My husband and I sit there and we pray like mad in our minds about the madness sitting at table before us.
“Lord, guide us right now. Help us know what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. Help us love her as she needs, right now. Calm our fears and help us serve her.”
She is ill—very ill. Doctors and nurses are working round the clock, literally, to treat, to stabilize, to heal.
I leave the hospital Monday having recovered from my sobs by the time I get to my car. I drive home, numb.
I walk into the family room—the room where our family plays Charoodles, the game Anna almost always wins—and I look out west wall of windows sprinkled with tears fallen from overcast sky. I had pulled that old pine table over on Friday before Mother’s Day when the orioles and grosbeaks flew to our farm, anticipating.
I always prepare a table so they will not be in want.
I fill the dishes with sweet foods.
And they are satisfied.
They are filled.
They sing joyfully as they feast on what has been spread before them by a loving, caring, able hand.
And I remember some words of comfort . . .
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me like down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23
Seeds of love have been spread before us in the last week by people who care. Meals have been baked and brought. Errands have been run. Dishes and laundry have been washed and dried and put away. Carpets have been vacuumed and wood floors swept. Bathrooms have been cleaned and beds changed. Prayers have been prayed over phone and email and Facebook. And chocolate! Someone brought us chocolate. All these tangible acts of love have been showered upon our daughter and us by so many precious people.
We are rich with the love and kindness of others.
We are wealthy with gifts given that matter most.
And we are grateful for those not afraid to reach into our messy, broken world right now—to stretch beyond their own confusion and fears about locked psych wards and mental illness and grieving, exhausted parents and emotionally melting down brothers to just be Jesus’ hands and feet and heart in a time of great need.
Surely, our God is good! Surely, in the valleys of life—if we humble and open ourselves for others to see—especially in our brokenness—God will pour out blessing in abundance through people.
We hope and trust our daughter will return to us soon, of sound mind and stable emotions. And we hope her experience—our family experience—will draw others closer to our Jehovah Jireh God—the God who provides for all our needs.
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in my you may have peace. In this word you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
For those desiring an understanding of bipolar disorder, click on the link below. The article includes several pages of excellent overview.