Faith is important to me., Virginia Pillars

Take God along


We spent last weekend in Branson, Missouri. We left Iowa on Friday morning and arrived later that day. Yes, we drove and drove. No, we didn’t stop at ANY quilt stores in Hamilton, Missouri. (Next time. Next time.)

We watched the production, The Miracle of Christmas at the Sight and Sound Theater on Friday evening, The Bretts on Saturday morning, and the Hughes Brothers Christmas Show on Saturday night. All of them uplifted me and centered me on Christ during this Christmas season.

For our lunch on Saturday, we decided to eat at a 50’s style diner with singing servers. The line to get in stretched out well past the door. Groups of people huddled together as they eagerly listened for the hostess to call out the magic number that gave them admittance. At one point, the call came for a party of four. I quipped loudly, “We’re a party of two, but if anyone wants a larger party, we’d be happy to join them. We might not know each other when we sit down, but we will by the end of the meal. “This brought laughter. And to my surprise, an invitation came from a couple of strangers to join them at their table to make us a party of four. We shared a meal, snippets of our lives, the importance of family, and our faith. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Hebrews 13:2

After our meal, we parted ways to explore the little shops that surrounded the diner. We met again in several stores and both of us commented on what a nice time we had.

Before we left the area, I decided to explore one more little shop. Roy dutifully followed me into the warm, welcoming atmosphere. We looked around and before we left, the owner of the store greeted us. Within a matter of seconds, she shared a bit of her story with us. In turn, I shared tidbits of mine which caused her to exclaim, “God wanted you in my store today. Not for you, but for me!” She went on to explain some of her struggles and through that brief encounter we shared ideas, how to react with love, and ways to hang on to Jesus in the midst of the storm. We parted with hugs and uplifted spirits. We offered each other encouragement. Brothers, I ask you to bear with this message of encouragement, for I have written to you rather briefly Hebrews 13:22.

I’m sure glad God never takes a vacation. And I’m grateful I took God along with me on mine.

My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

Take my hand, help me stand.


 

Hand upLast Friday, Whispers in the Pews: Voices on Mental Illness inWhispers in the Pews 3D photo the Church released.

I feel grateful today for the people who shared the link on social media and encouraged others to read it. I feel grateful for those who read it and posted reviews on Amazon. I feel grateful for the conversations that I know will take place in our church communities, around the water coolers, one on one over coffee as a result of the voices who shared their stories and bared their souls.

I understand the concept of time. Any change in attitude takes time. A young woman recently shared with me it takes seven years from the first time we hear something to have a change of heart. In those seven years, we need to hear the message repeated by different people in different ways.

Perhaps this book will help pave the way for the subject of mental illness to go from “we don’t talk about it” to a genuine understanding and compassion for us all.

Mental illness is not a weakness in a person’s faith. I’ve met countless people in the past fourteen years whose faith can move a mountain. Mental illness struck anyway. It’s a brain disorder, not a character flaw.

Mental illness can’t be prayed away. This is not to say that God can’t work a miracle. I know God can heal mind, body, and soul. I do believe, however, that often times God works through professionals who assist those who seek recovery by:

  1. Provide medications that assist the brain to make the proper connections so it can function as it should.
  2. Provide therapy in various forms – again – to assist the brain to react differently to outside stimulus.
  3. Provide a safe space to discuss the issues that accompany mental illness.

We, as a community can help by:

  1. Provide a listening ear, without judgment. Sometimes, that means not saying anything, just listening.
  2. Help them find the professional help they seek.
  3. Treat them as before illness struck. They want acceptance and don’t want to feel set apart because of a biological illness.

Let’s offer everyone a hand to help them stand. We’re all in this together.