“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:11, 27)
I can’t believe this is happening. As we followed the ambulance to the hospital, disbelief consumed me. I knew Chris needed psychiatric care. But my emotions didn’t have time to catch up with the events following his breakdown.
I still couldn’t make sense of the drastic change in his demeanor. Mental illness (MI) robbed Chris of his joy and sucked any hint of life out of his eyes. It was as if an enemy planted land mines inside Chris. We had to tread carefully lest we cause one of them to explode. Yet, still there were unexpected eruptions of violence and unprovoked spewing of profanities. We were just learning how to walk on egg shells around him.
Seeing Chris in the psychiatric ward of a hospital seemed surreal. My husband, Howie, and I visited him every minute we could. Any parent wants to ease a child’s pain. But limited visitation hours prevented us from comforting Chris as often as we/he needed.
When Howie and I were apart from Chris, we rarely spoke. Just like the Psalmist who said, “I am so troubled that I cannot speak” (Psalm 77:4). No words could express our sadness.
I’ll never forget one Sunday morning during that time of Chris’s inpatient care. Howie and I rode to church in complete silence. Like many churchgoers, we entered the sanctuary with fake smiles. Wearing expressions that hid our true emotions. No one could detect the heavy hearts within.
Most people wear masks only on Halloween. Those of us who have children with MI wear masks all year long…covering up true feelings. Hiding realities too painful to share. Too shocking to risk misunderstanding and judgment.
When MI rears its ugly head, how would you describe life in your home? Words like surreal, explosive, sad, dark, dysfunctional, unpredictable, and broken may not convey what goes on.
How would you explain your emotions? Words like stunned, discouraged, distraught, insecure, apprehensive, resigned, and helpless might fall short of adequately describing what you feel.
Your circumstances may seem unbelievable. But God’s love for you can be believed.
The Psalmist in chapter 77 pointed the way to God’s comfort. By remembering God’s works and reflecting on His power. That alone gives peace amid sorrow.
Focus on God’s grace, power, and comfort. You’ll be amazed by His love for you.
May you be blessed by this reminder.