Reblog: Making Safe the Shadowlands


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Editor’s note: I was delighted to have Jane** send me a link to her reflection on companionship in the midst of depression. The area of mental health and wellbeing is in my mind, still largely misunderstood, as many who have depression for example,  are still seen as having weaknesses or conditions they can switch off. As such, here are a few extracts from the article, which I have selected for your consideration and personal reflection. The post can be accessed in full here. 

Wayne Hutchinson [in his blog post] laid bare his inner light, strength, insight and solidarity this week. What struck me is his reference to depression as a “companion”. I know there is something in trying to accept some of our struggles so that we don’t lose so much energy in denying them. However, I still see mental health challenges as more of a cross than a companion.

In citing Hutchinson:

As I walk downstairs, drying the tears on my cheeks, I encounter the most beautiful of smiles, worn by my beautiful two-year-old niece, whose face bears the look of someone without a care in the world, the way all kids should be.I ask her for a hug and she lovingly obliges. This small hug from a little girl will get me through this day. That hug felt like the best one I’ve ever received. It’s just what I needed….

And in another:

I called my Mother for help – she’d been in and out my room to me for days, trying to help, but I was too scared to even speak to her… Eventually I found my voice in her company. She listened to what I had to say and we both cried together.

On recounting her own experience, Jane writes:

I was experiencing debilitating depression… I was not getting out of bed let alone leaving the house. A friend of mine called over and didn’t tell me to look on the bright side or list all the things I had going for me or drag me out into a world I wasn’t able to deal with. Instead, he got into the bed beside me, put an arm around me and joined me in my darkness. I was not alone.

And finally, through empathy:

I see the blessing in how this enables me to sense others hurting, be compassionate and journey with them in solidarity, understanding my brother or sister’s fear and darkness as my own. (We are one in Christ/humanity/whoever your God). It allows me to do, in my own way, as my cherished friend taught me- to get in under the covers and hold others in my heart, join them in their hurt and hold on until, God willing, the grip loosens just enough to fathom that no shadow can exist without light.

Somewhere in all of this I grew in faith. I came to know a Jesus who joins us in our suffering while promising ultimate triumph over the worst of it.

“In the inner chambers of your heart, God steps past all your talent and hard work — all that you would think he values. He goes straight for the messy, broken places in you because it’s there that you can truly discover him. This is the way he frees your heart to love, to risk, to grab hold of life for the joy that’s there.” — Paula Rienhart from Strong Women, Soft Hearts

Bring to awarenees, the times where you’ve been messy and broken. Did you notice the companionship of God in there? Are you able to notice it now? How can we hold others in our hearts, join others in their hurt and hold on, until “the grip loosens just enough to fathom that no shadow can exist without light?”

_____________________________

Jane** (not her real name) is one of our readers from Europe. She graciously allowed me to share her article.

*Do you have an insight, question or understanding about ‘companionship’ that you wish to have published here? For contributions and to discuss possible authorship, please contact Geralyn via email: missionandidentity@fcjasau.org.au.

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