My young adult daughter has mental illness, something she has struggled with in varying degrees her whole life. Neither my husband nor I have been saddled with the same life challenges as our daughter who fights valiantly to live with dignity in a world full of inequities and unrighteous judgments. But yet, somehow, our genetics gifted her not just with her beauty and intellect but also with her lifelong battle for success.
Not only was I misunderstood, but I was misunderstood in such a way as to emphasize in a searing way the pain my daughter feels routinely.
But then there are those who make assumptions about our mental health, and accuse us as parents raising biological children with hidden disabilities. For instance, I was enjoying a new friend a few years ago, a godly woman whom I respected. I am a professional level intercessor, meaning I get paid to pray for individuals and corporations, a job I immensely enjoy. God began giving me “downloads” daily to pray for my friend, a new experience outside of my employment. Although those who know me well, love me and consider me stable and emotionally healthy, she assumed I was obsessive compulsive by my attentive faithful intercession. Our relationship quickly crashed and burned.
Not only was I misunderstood, but I was misunderstood in such a way as to emphasize in a searing way the pain my daughter feels routinely. My imaginary mental health issue made me an “unsuitable” friend for a “mature” Christian woman. God help us. They will know we are Christians by our love, remember?
I’m trying to teach my children to rise above the stigma and reject the shame offered by society. In retrospect, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to be considered guilty by association if it gives me the opportunity to stand by my children in solidarity.