I rarely find meeting new people an easy or comfortable experience. It feels more like a strenuous game of dodgeball. If I know I’ll be with new people, I dust off my often-used script with its litany of tried and true answers (honest but edited), double check the condition of my emotional armor, put on my best game face and press ahead. But imagine, rather than anxiously entering a room and bracing myself for the challenges of chit-chat, I walk into a room where arms are open and welcoming, and validation and affirmation are abundant. It’s a community where I hear, “Yes, me too!” rather than awkward and uncomfortable silence. It’s a place where eyes are full of compassion and understanding rather than fear or judgment. My well-honed evasive techniques in conversation are not needed. I can lay heavy and uncomfortable protective gear aside. And my script can be tucked back into my pocket.
The opportunity to share the hope and love of Christ with someone who is hurting gives my painful experiences a beautiful purpose. The Lord recently provided an opportunity for me to talk with a mother whose daughter is severely mentally ill. She had so many questions and concerns, and so much fear and anxiety. It was humbling to be used by Christ to speak encouragement into this woman’s weary spirit simply by relating compassionately to her struggle. The chance for this loving mama to connect with someone else who had faced many of the same challenges and hear how Jesus had shown Himself faithful through every one of them renewed her trust in the unfailing love of God. Sharing the pain of another is innately powerful. Sharing that pain in the presence of Jesus is life-changing. -Jennifer
Do you have a loved one living with a mental health condition? Discover hope, increase understanding of mental health conditions and treatment options, and connect with others in a confidential and structured setting. Visit wooddale.org/care to learn more.