Do you ever wonder if you’re helping your child who has mental illness (MI)? His illness may prevent him from thanking you. Your spouse may not acknowledge your efforts. When we near our breaking point, we’re tempted to give up.
This message is dedicated to the countless moms who privately provide support. No one sees all you do. No one could know how you minister to your child, in spite of your broken heart. You’d much rather crawl into bed and cry … for a week or two. But there’s no time for you to grieve.
Recently, I witnessed beautiful motherly care and attention. My good friend sat beside her adult son in a mental health care facility.
She had recently totaled her car, which left her with some back pain. She and her husband had settlement the day after her son was admitted into the hospital. Her husband had paper work to do. So she went to visit her son alone (not knowing I’d come alongside her).
In spite of fighting a cold, she asked all the right questions. Presenting each one lovingly.
“Did you eat last night?”
“How did you sleep?”
“Do you like your psychiatrist?”
“Do you take a walk in the hallway sometimes?”
“Did you have group?”
“What are you thinking?”
Periodically, she gently stroked his arm. Sometimes, she allowed silence.
She reassured him without promising something that may not happen.
“Do you think I’ll be able to go to my Bible study’s Christmas party on Friday?” her son asked.
“Maybe. Hopefully,” was her honest reply.
My friend held it together while in the hospital. Until we stepped outside after visiting hours. The exit door became a faucet for her tears.
I tried to comfort her. “Are you okay?”
“I’m numb,” she said as she softly cried.
I gently stroked her back.
Will her son be released before Christmas? That remains to be seen. Will his new medication restore him to his sweet self? Time will tell.
When is it a good time to be hospitalized for MI? Certainly not at Christmas.
Seventeen years ago Christmas wasn’t a time for celebration. Our son, Chris, had to be hospitalized. Those memories mercifully have begun to fade. Visiting my friend’s son threatened to arouse painful emotions.
“Are you sure you want to go?” asked my husband lovingly. Wondering if it would be too difficult for me to relive reminders of our son’s hospitalization.
“This will be healing for me,” I answered. “I know how much it would have meant if someone sat by me when Chris was hospitalized (if you couldn’t come). Especially if that person knew exactly what I was feeling.”
So I went. And was blessed by what I saw in my friend’s compassionate care of her son.
Her son also impressed me. There he sat in a psychiatric hospital speaking about God’s Word. He quoted verses from the Bible and discussed some of his favorite stories. His shattered cognition didn’t dampen his determination to focus on the Lord. His inner turmoil didn’t rob him of his love for God. My friend can take credit for investing Truth in him. God’s Word promises that His Truth will not come back void.
Isaiah 55:11 tells us, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (KJV)
Can anyone relate to the thankless care you provide for your child with MI? Certainly the Lord can. He healed ten lepers, but only one thanked Him. He died on the cross for the sins of all mankind, but men mocked Him as He hung dying. Spewing anger in return for His unconditional love. Countless still ignore His free gift of salvation.
Christ surely knows what it’s like for you. He sees your faithful labors of love. So seek His approval. He’s well-pleased with you. And know this: you’re having a positive impact on your child even though it can’t be measured.
Hang in there, with your focus firmly fixed on Him.
The song “In Christ Alone” (from the Secrets Of The Vine CD) reminds us that, “Here in the power of Christ we stand.”