We may have been taught to pray pretty and powerful sounding prayers.
But God’s admonitions to Job’s piously praying friends demonstrates that God can handle – and is even pleased by – our raw and honest prayers and wrestlings with Him.
“After GOD had finished addressing Job, he turned to Eliphaz the Temanite and said, ‘I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me—not the way my friend Job has. So here’s what you must do. Take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my friend Job. Sacrifice a burnt offering on your own behalf. My friend Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer. He will ask me not to treat you as you deserve for talking nonsense about me, and for not being honest with me, as he has.’” – Job 42:7-8 MSG (The Message Bible Paraphrase)
You may be well-meaning by telling a struggling friend to cheer up, think positive, pray more, read the Bible more, eat better, serve others more, rest more, etc. However, the fact is they could already be doing all of these things and still be struggling with mental illness just as someone struggling with cancer or a broken bone may not be instantly cured by “chin up” talks from friends.
Mental illness is as real and complex as cancer, fractures, or any other illness or injury – just often times not as visible. And often these crippling mental illnesses remain invisible because the sufferers feel shamed and/or shunned if they share.
This shaming and shunning is particularly prevalent in some Christian communities where the (false) assumption is that if you have enough faith, you’ll have a healthy and happy life. The truth is, Christians suffering from mental illness may very well be seeking and trusting God with more faith, trust, and passion than those who haven’t suffered this way have even ever needed to muster.
So continue to pray for your friend who struggles with mental illness. But if you can’t have a conversation with them where your part is mostly listening and supporting rather than offering ideas, solutions, and quick fixes which essentially admonish the sufferer to “snap out of it”, it may be best to say nothing at all.
The most beautiful flower doesn’t worry about competing with the flower next to it. It doesn’t fret over who will take care of it or who may or may not appreciate its beauty. It just blooms! How much more peaceful beauty would the gardens of our lives overflow with if we simply did the same?
Never ever stop living out of love or giving out of love. Loving itself is not unhealthy, or codependent, or approval addiction or such. But please, please STOP hinging your own well-being on how well your love is received. Yes That, my friends, is the road to a very dark place. Please don’t go there. Take it as a gentle warning from one who has been there and almost didn’t make it back. ♥️
Quote source: “The Thriver Model of Unconditional Love” by Melanie Tonia Evans
(Alternate Blog Title: What Moving to Atlanta, Driving along the Trail of Tears, and visiting a Penitentiary taught me about Independence Day)
Personally, although I enjoy so many blessings by having been born in the USA, I don’t call today – July 4th in particular – Independence Day.
Moving to Atlanta, which once had been a city filled with slavery, and some of the history of the Civil Rights Movement I am learning here has helped establish this opinion of mine. I also now live so near the starting place of the Trail of Tears where so many Native Americans were driven from their Homeland and many lost their lives in the process.
In fact, this past weekend when I took some back roads to Tennessee to visit with my Dad, some historical markers let me know that I was driving part of the route of the actual trail of tears. I don’t know if it’s the strong longing for justice I have in me or the bit of Native American in my bloodline, but that knowing gave me chills.
Also, one of the places my Dad wanted to visit on his birthday weekend was the historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary which has now been closed and made into a museum. As we were sitting in the room watching the presentation and history of the place, we were told that the last use of the room we sat in before the prison closed was a chapel. And, in that place, over 1000 inmates – some of whom would die there and never know another day of physical freedom on earth, found true freedom in that place as they were baptized into faith in Christ. So those men their Independence Day behind imposing prison bars and razor wire.
So, to me – today is not Independence Day. Because there are so many countries and people who have no chance at the freedoms many of us in this country know, largely due to the fact that we often choose to pour the wealth our freedom creates back into ourselves.
So, although July 4th is the date The States became independent of Great Britain, I cannot – in good conscience – refer to it as Independence Day.
But there is good news! Because of the resilient human spirit breathed into us by our Maker and the freedom and purpose made available to us through the sacrifice of Jesus, every single day can be our Independence Day!
From the history that has formed our lives but doesn’t have to define our lives… from the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that bless us with brokenness that keeps us dependent on our Maker to soar even higher in life by His Spirit instead of our own futile efforts… from having to be in control… by surrendering to our Maker, we can call each and every day Independence Day.
So, tonight – rather than attend fireworks, I will attend my Celebrate Recovery meeting at my church as I do on most Thursday nights to enjoy the authentic fellowship and solid teaching and principles that enable me to find true freedom to rise above hurts, habits, and hangups. And, the first weekend in August I will join others at historicEbenezer Baptist Churchfor the 400 Conference by the One Race Movement because almost exactly 400 years to the day the first slaves were brought to these shores. You see, I believe the best celebration of freedom isn’t commemorating a date when some politicians signed some papers. Rather, a true celebration of freedom looks to me like definitive steps taken to obtain and maintain true freedom for ALL.
Today, tomorrow, forever – let’s choose to live free so we can truly say “Happy Independence Day”, friends!