May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I thought this post would be fitting.
I’ve struggled with bouts of depression and was diagnosed a few years back with PTSD caused by my abusive ex-husband. I’ve known numerous people who struggle with depression, as well as manic episodes. I’ve known people who have committed suicide because they saw no other way out of the situation they were in.
The more I look around these days, the more mental well-being seems to be declining. Mass shootings and suicides are plastered all over the news. Over prescribing pain meds and antidepressants are on the rise. It’s almost become a way of life. We have to stop fighting over gun laws and not engage each other in, “I’m right, you’re wrong” fights and start fighting the unrelenting monster called mental illness.
Why are there so many school shootings? Why are more than one out of three Americans on painkillers? Why is it that one out of six Americans is on antidepressants? These percentages far surpass those in other countries. I don’t have the answers, but believe we have to find them.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~Galatians 3:28
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.~ Matthew 7 1-2
Anyone regularly reading this blog knows I step in every now and then to add a post or two. Usually this occurs after an in-depth conversation with Linda over life and all the crazy it dishes. So here I am, taking over the blog this morning after one such conversation.
It’s very easy to assume things of another person. Assumption rears its head in my life every so often and I am sure it does in many of our readers, and it’s frustrating for anyone to face. For me, I’ve been called a“bad influence” on Linda. A bad influence means something or someone is teaching others to do wrong or to make them have bad thoughts about someone, encouraging wrong actions and thoughts by example.
This would be a gross assumption, and for the life of us (and others who know us) Linda and I cannot figure out why that idea was created, yet there it is. It sinks my heart to know such ideas are out there. When I recently asked Linda why she thought this judgement existed she replied:
“Because you encouraged me to be independent.”
That was a powerful and humbling thing to hear her say. “Can’t” shouldn’t be anyone’s vocabulary. The only thing I ardently believe she can’t do on her own is put her hair up in a dang ponytail.
So why judge others? Why attach labels and shove our assumptions in front of fact, thought, and reason? Assumption is a taking to or upon oneself to know what is true and right according to what one needs or wants to hear.
We judge because internally we find a weakness in ourselves. Instead of maturely addressing our shortcomings and insecurities we take it out on others. Instead of getting to know people so we form opinion based on hard core fact, we assume we know all, put up walls, and look away. Often, those we abuse by wrongful judgment do not deserve the mistreatment.
A habit of not addressing our flaws by casting judgment on others is a hard one to break.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? ~Matthew 7:3
Our instinct when judged may be a rush to defend ourselves. That’s an equally hard habit to break. I admit I’d love to write a blog defending myself, listing to the world all the reasons as to why I believe I am not a “bad influence,” but I’ve learned, through very hard lessons, that there is a time and place for true defense. In the end God knows my intentions. He is my judge; the Holy Spirit will convict me.
Reflecting on what caused this blog, my feelings of anger, outrage, and being hurt have dissipated into pity toward the one who assumes so much about me. I wish habits of judgement and assumption could change. It’s terribly hard to look at the world through scratched lenses. I’ve lived like that and it really sucks, and I know Linda’s lived like that as well. Together we know how painful it is to compare oneself to others, to ignore our hurts and hang-ups and to be in such denial of what makes us human…
If judged, pray for the person judging you. Pray that God softens hearts to vulnerability. It’s good to be vulnerable. I will always defend Linda, of course! If anyone wants to get to her they will have to go through me. That’s a little life disclaimer! Forgive those who cast judgment because God first forgave you.
That doesn’t change my opinion of the circumstances or situations I’m in, but does polish my glasses with empathy.
That question, posed to me by Linda as I sipped my coffee is how my morning began. After 28 years of friendship, questions like that coming out of Linda are as natural as asking me to pass the creamer. It’s a timely question though. Facing our Holy Week we’ve seen children gassed in Syria, bombs set off in two churches in Egypt, the loss of a young man by his own hand and, yesterday, Linda witnessed just how indifferent people can be.
While driving home she came across an elderly woman lying in the middle of the road. Linda and another motorist got out of their cars to assist. Apparently the woman had tripped while crossing the street and couldn’t get up. Linda and the other motorist remained on site with the woman until help came, knowing this dangerous stretch of road and seeing how visibly shaken she was. Their cars were blocking the road however, and, as they returned briefly to their vehicles to move them to safety (mind you there is a woman very obviously LYING in the MIDDLE of the road here) another motorist arrives on scene and, indifferent to the person lying on the pavement, starts yelling at Linda and the other gentleman to get the hell out of his way…. he had a job to get to.
What the hell was he going to do? Drive AROUND the human being LYING in the middle of the STREET? Good Samaritan he was not but then again, we don’t know his situation and are not his judge. Was he about to lose his job and he was frightened of what would happen to his family? Was he a doctor on call? Was he a jerk missing out on his AM coffee fix? We don’t know and shouldn’t assume but, no matter what…. how can priorities, his and ours, get so screwed?
So, where DID we as humans go wrong? The short answer is Genesis 3:6.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.~Genesis 3:6
The longer one is more complicated. But here’s is how I replied to Linda. Now, I’m an author whose breakfast was had over a deep question, so pardon the analogy….
People are like fried eggs.
When you look at a fried egg you see the small, yellow yolk within the larger egg white—two circles, basically. That possibly indifferent, rushed man was the large egg white —big, broad reaching, spreading where he wished to go. Living within him, contained, stable, reliable and constant, was the yolk… or God. That man was living his life with God firmly rooted in place and carried within him as a part of who he is… going where he goes.
That’s how a lot of people live.
Then you have people who are the yolk. They are contained and set firmly where they are, while the egg white spreads around them much bigger and farther reaching. Which direction the egg white will spread in, is unknown. They trust that they don’t control the egg white, but know, no matter what, it will encircle the yolk. These people live their lives being carried within God knowing and understanding that they are in God’s care and will be saved by Jesus and that other people…. may not be.
See the difference?
The man made his life bigger and father reaching than God’s will, choosing to live his life with God a small part of his circle. Others choose to know they are a constant and reliable part of God’s love, keeping their personal priorities much smaller than the bigger circle of God’s will. These people would rather live with all their problems, joys, and stresses a small part of their daily life and drop everything to make God’s love and faith a bigger part of the picture.
Linda and I work every day to be egg yolks. To keep our priorities inline with our personal journeys back to Christ. And it’s not easy. Sometimes we get scrambled and it’s a matter of talking things out with another brother or sister in Christ to set our priorities straight again and understand this big, sometimes confusing walk called faith. The yolk of an egg is easily broken causing a mess of stuff to spread all over the place. When our personal priorities spread and grow beyond the reach of God’s will, that’s where sin, temptation and indifference will take over.
So think of that as you dye Easter eggs this week or when you next fry up your breakfast.
Thirty pounds for four reps. Thirty pounds might not seem a lot, but compared to where I started from it’s a huge improvement. When I started curling I wasn’t even able to lift an empty 13 pound bar, and had to tie my left arm to my side because it winged out making curling impossible. Turning my left hand over is extremely difficult. My cerebral palsy has caused limited movement in my left hand and its ability to grasp items. It’s also fused my left elbow, makes curling difficult and painful.
Today, a little over a year since I began powerlifting, I curled 30 pounds without being tied up. Wahoo!! I not only made my muscles stronger, I have better range of motion as well. With this excitement in mind, I encourage everyone to widen your prospective on yourself. Don’t judge yourself by what others can do, or even what they find easy to do. Judge yourself on how far you as an individual have come.
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.~Psalm 66:16
I want to…. actually, I needto, hear from all of you about how far you’ve come… in anything. We’re in a world where we don’t celebrate each other often enough. Especially today, in the wake of fear and pain as terrorism strikes another country, let’s leave some hope behind. I’ve a “Testimony” page. Please leave a comment here and share a something about your personal best, or a victory you’ve had. It will be added to the Testimony page so encouragement can be spread in what tiny ways we can.
One ripple can created a wave, so lets celebrate a our inner power….
If anyone out there ever wanted to know what it is like to try to concentrate when you have Pure-O, OCD… put a hornet’s nest over your head and go about your day. Shove one of these over your head and you have life with Pure-O. Each of those stinging buggers is a thought coming…
This will be my first blog. When I get it written. Right now I could say anything and you’d keep on reading, so, seriously? Why are you still reading this? There’s nothing here to see yet… move on and come back later. I promise I’ll have something earth shattering to share.