“Just snap out of it!” What psychiatrist would ever prescribe that treatment for depression? One did. Lucy charged Charlie Brown five cents for that advice. Sadly, we know that it’s not possible to just snap out of it.
So what do we do with our fears and frustrations, regret and remorse, guilt and grief, sorrow and shame? Can we silence those painful feelings which result from mental illness (MI)? Why can’t we just face illogical situations without reacting?
Spock did it in Star Trek. But he was a fictitious alien. That character was portrayed by a real man with human emotions. In the New York Times’ article “Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83” Virginia Heffernan shared one of Nimoy’s statements.
“‘To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior,’ Mr. Nimoy wrote years after the original series ended.”
Is it possible to suppress emotions? Would it be wise to wave a wand over our child’s head and magically remove all feeling? Would it be better to spare him any future pain of MI at the expense of feeling anymore joy?
When Chris had to endure his first stay in a psychiatric unit I don’t know who was in greater pain: him or me. My seventeen-year-old son’s body lay on my lap in a fetal position crying, “Why? Why can’t I go home?” The gentle strokes of my fingers on his head couldn’t wipe away his turmoil.
It took several months for Chris to become functional enough to return to school. My own heartache grew so excruciating that I became numb. I’d watch movies to escape the tragic reality of my life. Even tear-jerking story lines couldn’t cause me to shed a tear. I had already cried an ocean-full.
The book of Psalms became my comfort. I identified with the Psalmist who engaged in healthy self-talk.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:5, and 11).”
The Psalmist showed me a better way to escape. In the privacy of my bedroom, I could turn to God and find refuge in Him. Psalm 57:1 became my prayer.
“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
God led Chris to a psychiatrist and psychologist who were both Christians. Those men provided godly advice. Healing words for Chris and for me. I’ll forever be grateful for their expertise. But also feel, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans (Psalm 118:8).”
I’ve learned that, “The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him (Psalm 64:10)!”
I found relief in the promises of Psalm 51: 10 and 12. That God would restore my joy and sustain me.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (Psalm 51:10, 12).”
So would it be better to be like Spock, void of emotions? Having experienced the joy of the Lord and knowing His perfect peace, I say no! I’m glad I’m not like Spock.
But here’s a thought. We can actually achieve Spock’s blessing: “Live long and prosper.” Christians have been given the gift of eternal life and have access to God’s unlimited riches.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).”
Just close your eyes and picture this heavenly scene:
“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).”
We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we have a living hope. So we can join Peter and say, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3-4).”
We WILL certainly live long and prosper. I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful for emotions. With the ability to love and be loved by God.
By the way, Virginia Heffernan explained why Leonard Nimoy chose his split-finger salute for Spock’s character. She wrote that, “He based it on the kohanic blessing, a manual approximation of the Hebrew letter shin, which is the first letter in Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names for God.”
What a wonderful way to greet others: by sharing God!