Weekly Devotion for May 22, 2023

One of the national observances for the month of May is Mental Health Awareness. The purpose is to raise awareness for those living with mental health or behavioral health issues and to help reduce the stigma that so many experience.  

I spent much of my ministry working with the homeless and many lived with behavioral health issues. There was a wide range of diagnoses – from mild depression to paranoid schizophrenia. For many there was a dual diagnosis that included addiction.  

I recall one woman who I encountered on a regular basis and her struggle with bi-polar disorder and addiction. She suffered with extreme mood swings. One day she would be walking down the middle of the street, singing and dancing, laughing and overly engaging. The next day, she would be holed up in her room, unable to get up, crying so much she was unable to speak.  

The interventions required medication monitoring, housing stability, rehab and a support system. This wonderful woman could not manage all these requirements and necessary controls.  

My interactions created opportunities for me (and in my sharing, for us) 

  • to listen attentively 

  • to know what resources are available in the community. 

  • to meet immediate needs, i.e. food, shelter, clothing, medical emergencies, extending the ministry of hospitality 

  • to be compassionate, reminding myself of Christ’s love for everyone 

  • to be a spiritual leader grounded in scripture and prayer 

I also had some significant interior work: 

  • explore my discomfort with someone different than I am 

  • learn about mental illness/behavioral health issues 

  • monitor situations for safety of self and others. 

As we continue to reduce the stigma of behavioral health issues, I encourage us to proclaim and claim the Scripture text from Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation [including behavioral health issues], will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen.