If you ever want to learn a lot about your own character and personal limits - care for someone who is clinically depressed and suffers from chronic pain.
You learn how much patience you really have.
You learn how gracious you really are.
How giving and selfless you really are.
Sometimes, I think we discover we don’t have these qualities in as much quantity as we thought we did.
I learned that lesson in one evening. Caring for someone, being there for them, being their support system, their rides to the hospital, etc; It starts to become less and less about their problems - problems that seem insurmountable and unfixable, and it starts to become an eye opening lesson about you.
When your grace and patience are pushed to the limits, all of a sudden you start to realize, you need help too.
I found myself thinking: Is my lack of grace or patience any less ugly than my friends depression and hopelessness, or is it even worse? Are we just two people on opposite ends of the grace scale? He feels he has no hope, so he needs the most grace - I feel full of hope, so it’s my duty to disperse it to him.
I only needed to spend one day, that spilled over into the early morning, to realize a few things about my ability to help someone in need.
I started asking myself questions like: How could anyone do this for a living? Dedicate their lives to caring for people with a debilitating emotional illness?
I love the saying “we are only strong for a little while to help those who are weak.”
At the height of my frustration last night, I just wanted to go back to my little blessed mess of a life, with my little problems and stresses, and troubles that I felt in control of or could handle.
I didn’t want to spend one more minute watching my friend spiral out of control into the arms of this unforgiving mental and emotional anguish.
And then I remembered - this is his life every day.
I get to go back to my life, with my momentary bouts of sadness, while he lives in a perpetual state of self hate and defeat.
So, when he called for the 5th time, I stopped thinking I could help him and just tried to encourage him.
I let him know I understood the trials he was facing and that he’s not alone.
I have prayed for this man for more years than I can remember. I have asked God to heal him and have no idea why He hasn’t. I’m tired, but I will never give up hope.
Every life is valuable, no matter how messed up it may seem from an outside perspective. Every life can be turned around. People can regain their emotional and spiritual health. People can relearn what it’s like to be healthy.
I have to believe this. If I stop believing this, I’m afraid I’m going to end up stuck in a cycle of never ending darkness just like my friend.
(photo credit josielila)