There is a story behind the story in my meditation. The depression I described in the devotional was brought on not only by stress in the aftermath of the hurricane, but also by an injury to a nerve in my pelvis that I suffered about a month after the natural disaster. The pain I endured from the damaged nerve was so great that it led to psychosis on several occasions, which then led to hospitalizations. My condition is rare; it was not properly diagnosed until this past May (fourteen years after the initial trauma) by a specialist in pelvic pain.
The condition can be brought on by heavy lifting, bicycling, gardening, and sports injuries, all of which I have experienced. Throughout this fourteen-year ordeal, I developed a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus. He carried me through the pain and brought me back to the light from the darkness of the torment. He gave me hope and dispelled my fears. He is the great comforter.
Since my diagnosis this past May, I am under the care of numerous specialists who are working to alleviate the pain since I reinjured the nerve last year and then again this past April. I have been blessed with a circle of friends who pray for me. I am determined to tell my story of God’s redeeming grace and to work to diminish the stigma of mental illness.
I have witnessed firsthand the sufferings of those in mental hospitals, and I have immense empathy for the mentally ill and for those who suffer chronic pain. How does the church respond to people who suffer from depression and other forms of mental anguish? The church has done a great job in ministering to those who have special needs and physical illnesses, but what about those who suffer in silence from mental illness? A great book on this subject is Mental Health and the Church by Stephen Grcevich, MD. He outlines a mental health inclusion strategy that addresses the stigma of mental illness in the church. This is a subject we all need to talk about because emotional and behavioral problems in children, teens, and adults are steadily increasing. We can make an effort to speak out and reach out to those who are suffering.
For my part, I am in the process of forming an organization to donate books to mental hospitals and mental health providers. These books offer encouragement, hope, and the message of God’s love to those who are hurting. This message is sorely needed in mental hospitals. As believers, we can embrace those who desperately need God’s Word, and the church can be a driving force in lifting the silence around mental illness.
Whitney Simpson offers a wide-open doorway into embodied practice and awakens us to the long-held wisdom of our tradition that our bodies are sacred places where God meets us and dwells. Fully Human, Fully Divine is a true Christmas gift!”
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