Thursday, June 18, 2009

Walking in Another's Shoes

Right now I am trying to help a relative who suffers with schizo-affective disorder, bipolar, and PTSD. She is desperately ill and is hard to love at times. During the past two years since she stopped taking her medications, she has done some aweful things. During her psychotic episodes, she's left her car in the middle of a freeway because she thought the motor would attack her. She's thrown away all of her food, thinking it's contaminated, and she's discarded all her family photos, treasures, most of her clothes, dishes, and other belongings. Usually caring and compassionate, she has been aggressive and hostile. I've sought help for her in every possible way, but professionals felt she did not meet the criteria for in-house treatment.

We've all heard the saying, "Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his moccasins." So many around us carry sorrows that we cannot see. In your neighborhood, there are people suffering with schizophrenia, bipolar illness, anxiety and depression. Others struggle with physical health, financial, or relationship problems. A few are being abused.

When my husband served as a church leader of a group of 800 people for five years, the phone seemed to ring almost constantly. Some people who outwardly appeared fine were carrying heavy burdens. Others who seemed perfect were battling huge demons. I learned that things are seldom as they appear.

So next time you find yourself envying someone who has a "perfect" life or rejecting someone who seems very "imperfect," ask God to help you see beyond the outward appearance. No one is perfect. Each of us at times carries burdens that can be difficult to bear. Many of these burdens are not easily observed.

A kind word. A smile. A friendly gesture. A thank you note. A phone call. Little actions can do so much to ease the burdens of another.

Today my relative's therapist called to tell me my relative is finally getting the help she needs. She will receive long-term in-house care until she is hopefully feeling better. Praise God that someone finally recognized her suffering and has made arrangements to help her.

Paul said, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." May God bless all those who struggle with unbearable, often unrecognizable burdens. And may He give us with the wisdom and strength to help one another bear those heavy loads.

© Carol Brown

1 comment:

  1. A very good essay; accurate, thoughtful, and caring. The basic message of compassion and understanding that you convey is the salient point of my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay, bipolar man and chronicles the internal and external struggles of his bizarre life as he battles for stability and acceptance (of himself and by others). You can learn more about the book at

    Mark Zamen, author


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