The CrossRoads Journal

Relationship Disharmony

We understand and acknowledge that mental illness has had an impact on all of our relationships.

Mark 10:47-48
And when he (blind Bartimaeus) heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he cried out all the more “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Do you ever feel that when someone cries out either with words or actions for help and their issue derives from a mental illness, that they are often ‘tuned- out.’ Perhaps they are blamed for their illness or their behaviors are misunderstood.  Perhaps not being able to fix them leaves others frustrated, judgmental, and feeling unable to cope. This can lead them/us to walk away rather than engage.

Each of us has probably felt or responded in such a way when dealing with the mentally ill.

Here is how Jesus responded:49) And Jesus stood still and commanded Bartimaeus to be called.  And they called the blind man, saying unto him, “Be of good comfort, rise; He calleth thee.”

And Bartimaeus, casting away his garment, rose and came to Jesus.  And Jesus answered and said unto him, “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” The blind man said unto him, “Lord, that I might receive my sight.”  And Jesus said unto him, “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.” And immediately Bartimaeus received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”

As Jesus shows compassion to those who are hurting and call to Him, how might we as His Followers, be asked to respond in similar situations?  And yet, we acknowledge

  • that others often have not been there, have not heard, have misunderstood, and have resisted getting involved.
  • And we too may find ourselves responding with indifference, tired of dealing with it, judging, and growing cold in our relationship.

As we approach Good Friday, we can think of how much Jesus was willing to step in the gap for us, in love and for love of God the Father and us.  He was judged and condemned for us, carrying our sins to the cross because of love.  How might we too learn from our relationships with those struggling (and who doesn’t struggle with something at some time) how to love deeper and more selflessly?

I would like to read a bit from Bill’s Story of walking with JT:

“We have found the most effective help we can give JT is our true love and assistance; getting angry at his shortcomings is of no value.  Understanding his desire to be loved by his family is paramount; what we can do to facilitate that with the broader family is a battle with ignorance about mental disease among some of those family members.  I would say the very most important and effective part of our care for JT is ensuring he knows we are on his side, all the way.  He should never be able to read into our actions anything less than that.  We have benefited from educating ourselves with techniques to do that too.  Dialectic behavioral therapy (dbt) has helped us learn techniques to remove ambiguity in our communication, and to validate JT’s views, even when different than our own.  “Both views can be true!”

By taking a step back and writing our account of these nearly 40 years, I’ve discovered that my view of the impact of our circumstances does not match what I often assume. A natural tendency for most of us is to evaluate life in a self-centric perspective:  How does this affect me?  Is this what I want?  How can I change things for my benefit?  But the life of a believing Christian is one of ongoing sanctification – the fashioning of thoughts more glorifying to God than might be natural.  That sculpting work of the Holy Spirit has been an underlying “moving project” with me.  In writing this piece, it has become apparent to me that over the long timespan of this experience I have benefited in this change of view.  This experience is less about me than it was in the early days.  This experience is more about JT, others in our Family, and my gratitude to God for the care He applies as He has to our wounded condition living in a fallen world, yet given an opportunity to enjoy many blessings.  I see deep fallen-world wounds in virtually every life of my friends; when I don’t see them, I assume I simply don’t know them so well yet! But there is always a way to live to bring glory to God, and for that, I am forever thankful to God!”

Sometimes life’s blessings come disguised as ‘severe mercies.’ Let’s not waste them….and in our encounters, let us recall how Jesus responded and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us.

If time allows, those who want can share a challenge and a blessing from their relationships dealing with a loved one with a mental illness.