One of life’s great challenges is learning to lift up our eyes and actually see those around us. To see them in all their frailties and faults and weaknesses and learn to love them for their whole selves. I am not particularly good at this. I don’t think many of us are really pros, frankly. But every once in a while life arranges for you to look up.
I’ve spent the past couple of months home in bed and on the couch and back in bed again with an unfortunate series of events. None so serious, just crappy luck. I’m gearing up to return to the world and the thought of jumping back in is simply overwhelming. I can hardly bear the thought of an exhausting return to emails, and meetings, responsibilities, and the series of emergencies and deadlines that so often accompany my job. I’m even dreading the return to my active social life. I’m tired and it all seems like too much. My introvertedness has crusted over into a comfortable cave, but an ultimately unsustainable one. Karen H. has gotta pay the bills.
It occurred to me today that this is likely similar, in a very small way, to my loved ones and colleagues who struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges. It is making me realize that I could do more to ease their burden, to help them deal with the sometimes overwhelming challenge of simply engaging with life.
For some reason, the prayer of St. Francis popped into my head when I was thinking about this.
- Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
- Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
- Where there is injury, pardon;
- Where there is error, truth;
- Where there is doubt, faith;
- Where there is despair, hope;
- Where there is darkness, light;
- And where there is sadness, joy.
- O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
- To be consoled as to console;
- To be understood as to understand;
- To be loved as to love.
- For it is in giving that we receive;
- It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
- And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
For those of you with loved ones struggling with mental health challenges, how do you support them? For those of you who struggle, what kind of service would be most meaningful to you? What help do you need? How can we love you better?