Friday, March 4, 2011

What If

Whether you have a mental illness, or you love someone who does, the "what-ifs" are something we need not give a voice to; I think at some point we have all done it.  For someone with a mental illness it can go something like this: "What if I didn't have a mental illness, what would my life be like?"  From there it can become "What could I have been?" or questioning how much better it could be.  For a family member the questions can be "What if I had known sooner?" or "What if I had done things better?"

This is dangerous thinking that can only be destructive.  When we think in these terms, we hold onto guilt and focus on what we don't have rather than what we do have.  Thinking along these lines is unrealistic on so many levels.  For consumers, how many tend to think that if they didn't have a mental illnesses their lives would be great?  Mental illness is a very long, difficult road to travel, but we have no way of knowing what our paths would be if life had been different.  This is also true for family members.  It's easy to think that if you had done things differently you could have been more help, or your loved one wouldn't have to live with the symptoms of their illness that they do.

Remember, God created us the way we are supposed to be, each one of us . Read Psalm 139:13-16: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20139:13-16&version=NIV.  He loves us just the way we are.  He uses the very things we go through to form our characters and make us strong.  He has a special love for those who have the hardest things to cope with. There is great reward for those who go through suffering in this life.  Read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205:1-10&version=NIV.  God is also so forgiving.  Many who cope with mental illness in their lives whether in themselves or others, carry a lot of guilt, much of it being false.  Regardless of whether the guilt is valid, asking God for forgiveness can lift a huge burden off your shoulders.

If God loves us the way we are, I think it's time that we do the same for ourselves. Ask yourself this- how would you treat someone going through what you are going through?  Don't you deserve to think of yourself the same way?
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