Instead of trying to pretend we’ve got it all together this holiday season, maybe this Christmas can be the time we get real about the frustration and loss and grief amplifying everywhere for families dealing with mental illness.
Merry 23rd of December. I hope this post finds you well, without breathing treatments for four year olds or mamas who have the flu (ugh. yes. my reality.) I hope that you are finding moments of beauty in the endless to-dos, and that Christmas tugs at your heart with a yearning only Heaven can fill.
I’m over on Healthy Place today, hoping to encourage families of the mentally ill. The irony of speaking and writing about mental health issues is that the majority of people I hear from are not mentally ill. Rather, I hear from loved ones struggling to protect, provide, and understand them. But I am often struck by how little is said on behalf of the families of the mentally ill. As we near Christmas morning, I want to remember to honor the loss and the grief and the challenges families of the mentally ill face. How differently a family must move through the world when a loved one is constantly volatile, constantly missing, constantly drugged? How do they deal with death threats from a child they have nurtured, or be vigilant enough to keep a spouse from harming themselves? How do they move through life without their own mental health issues when they live in a barrage of fear, suspense, and sadness?
As I become overwhelmed just thinking of the families struggling to find the right doctor, therapist, health insurance . . . fighting HIPPA and drowning in doctor’s bills and manic charges . . . trying to keep their loved ones safe and off the streets . . . I’m reminded that Jesus wasn’t born in a palace. He was born in a barn: full of mess and manure and stench, surrounded by animals and shepherds. He was born in the midst of a family’s journey, into chaos. He chose the mess. He chooses you and your family. He won’t shy away from our messy barns of family struggle. He won’t leave you alone with nowhere to lay your child or spouse or sibling down.
My prayer this Christmas for each family dealing with the horrible reality of mental illness is,
May you know peace.
May you feel Christ birthing Himself anew for you,
In the midst of crazy and strung-out and empty.
May you know certainty
In a sea of unanswered questions.
May the One answer ring out clear in blackness:
He’s coming for you,
He’s providing for you,
He’s filling your empty.
May you know joy,
Deepening and stretching out your broken.
May you know Love,
hunting you down in the dark.
May you know that you are always enough,
Always worth finding.
And may you rest,
knowing he holds your broken down love
in perfect arms.
Merry Christmas, dear Red Vine family. Know that His love is always, always being born again and again in any heart simply asking for grace. You don’t have to be perfect or pretty or sane. You don’t have to have a clean house or a happy marriage or well-behaved kids. The messier the barn, the more He loves. And oh how He loves, and loves, and loves.
Bathed in the manure of this world and the salvific Star shine of His,
Visit me over at HealthyPlace today for a message to families of the mentally ill, Give Your Mentally Ill Loved One This Gift For Christmas and my video blog in front of my messy, kid-decorated Christmas tree: