cartoon of person with upset brain relating to a caregiver

Helping Them Cope

Note: This post is adapted from information I learned in the NAMI Family-to-Family program. We highly recommend attending this program to learn more about mental illness.

Having a mental illness and dealing with the world takes enormous courage and determination. As we have previously written, many people develop defensive coping strategies.

These negative behaviors are actually typical for any person with a life-changing or life-threatening illness. (They include irritability, denial, abusive language and resistance to treatment.) For people with mental illnesses, the behaviors are even more counter-productive. This can be very upsetting to you.

So what’s the best way to react? Here are some suggestions from NAMI:

  • Respect and protect your loved one’s devastated self-esteem. Don’t criticize them. Keep nagging and negative remarks to a minimum.
  • Punishment, argument and pressure make things worse.
  • Ignore as much negative behavior as you can. Praise positive behavior as much as you can. People with mental illness are more likely to improve when they can see behaviors earn them approval and recognition.
  • Accept the symptoms of the illness. You don’t punish a child with a stomach virus for vomiting. Know what the symptoms of the illness are, and try to separate that from the person’s behavior. You cannot argue someone out of a depression or delusions.
  • Accept that your loved one may not be able to fulfill a normal role in the family. Reduce your demand for emotional support and “carrying your weight.”
  • Make these allowances, yet treat the person as a regular member of the family.
  • Encourage independent behavior. Allow them to do what they can, which can vary from time to time. But, again, don’t push.
  • Live in the present. You have a right to grieve, and you may need professional help to do so. But don’t live in the past or focus on “what could have been.” One of the best things you can do for your loved one is to accept that they have an illness that makes life harder, but not impossible. This is how it is.
  • Be patient. When our loved ones take steps toward more independence, it’s very scary for them.
  • Be kind to yourself and the rest of the family. This is hard. Don’t criticize yourself or others when you make a mistake. Give everyone in the family some grace.

Christmas tree and lights

The Mental Illness Holiday Survival Guide

The holidays can be some of the worst days of the year when your family is dealing with mental illness.  Not only is it TOO DARN DARK AND COLD, but it’s also a time when expectations of being Merry and Bright can seem especially hard for your family.

Why the holidays can be hard

Having a mental illness makes you extra vulnerable to the demands, pressures and expectations of the holidays. We deal with:

  • The demands of the culture, like parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining.
  • The changes of schedule, which can be really challenging for a person who has a mental illness.  Getting out of normal routine can lead to forgetting meds and getting self-care out of balance.
  • Family functions and crowds that trigger anxiety.
  • Financial stresses because your loved one is not being able to participate.
  • A pronounced sense of the passing of time. Gathering with cousins, friends and family reminds your loved one of all the “normal” parts of life that seem out of reach to him.
  • The noise, which can make the noise in their heads worse.

The stress can make your loved one have more symptoms. In fact, a NAMI study found that 64% of people with mental illness report that their symptoms are worse during the holidays. And that can make you even more anxious.

Make your loved one a priority in planning

Yes, you can make the holidays a little less stressful for your loved one with mental illness. Their health comes first. And you may be surprised to see that this helps your mental health as well.

Any family member who is inconsiderate or otherwise difficult to your loved one should be kept away. I banned a brother-in-law for horrible comments during a holiday dinner. We didn’t make a big deal of it; we just never invited him again. He’s now dead, and I’m still glad I did it.

Set expectations

Let your loved on know the plans ahead of time. Make the holiday as consistent as you can.

For you, accept that your holidays are different now.  If you can get rid of your unrealistic expectations and be honest with your loved one and all the other family members, it will go better. Just remember: You can’t force anyone to be happy.

Know your loved one’s limits … and your own

Is being around family a trigger? Are crowds? You need to be aware of this.

Acknowledge your feelings.  If someone close to you is suffering from a mental illness, it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. If it’s a child, a sibling or a parent, Christmas can hold a lot of memories.

Avoid feeling guilty.  Around the holidays, many people want to be many things to loved ones. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So we put pressure on ourselves.  Pleasing everyone is unrealistic. 

At the same time, let participation be your loved one’s decision.

Keep your routine

Try as much as possible to maintain routines like:

  • Sleeping
  • Regular meals and good nutrition
  • Exercising
  • Taking medication
  • Keeping appointments with mental health professionals
  • Attending support groups

Think about the warning signs of relapse.  If you start to see them, encourage them to retreat to a normal routine.

Provide dignity

Help your loved one to keep her dignity. Provide a gift fund or another way to allow her to give gifts, so she won’t feel left out if she has no money.

If crowds or frenzy are a problem, encourage them to shop online. Or offer to help pick up the things they need.

Consider volunteering. The satisfaction of giving to others can help you put your own problems in perspective.

Scan every situation that’s coming up to make sure that your loved one won’t get unwelcomed attention.

Keep the celebration small and safe

Hey, it’s a good excuse to keep the unofficially crazy family members away.  You want a small gathering of your own family.  Period. Otherwise it’s too stressful for your loved one.

Identify what they really want to do.

Don’t overschedule. Pick and choose.  If your loved one will be uncomfortable in a situation, it’s ok not to go.

Encourage your loved one to keep connected and not be isolated.  Spending time with a friend or family member … even just one … can help.

Keep it short. Keep it informal.

If you have to do the Big Family Thing, let your loved one stay home. Big groups can be too much for your loved one, especially when you have to Put On a Happy Face. If you have a large family and lots of traditions, you can encourage your loved one to pick her favorites and let go of the rest.

Setting specific times for family traditions, like baking special food, decorating the house, wrapping gifts or attending community celebrations, gives the person something to look forward to.

If any of your extended family members really want to see your loved one, they know your phone number and where you live. Something private is better.  And try not to be bitter if no one asks. (There’s a reason God chose you to be this person’s lifeline. Not everyone can deal with this.)

When people ask

The best answer I’ve found to the question … How is he? … is “About the same.” That’s tough enough for you to answer.  So please don’t put your loved one in a situation where he or she has to answer the question.

During this time, we may find ourselves at extended family gatherings or at parties with people who do not understand the illness. Some people may be uncomfortable and not know what to say to you. Others may say hurtful things or offer cliché advice out of ignorance. It is helpful to prepare by knowing who may be at a gathering.

When the event is at your house

If you are having an event at your house, discuss it in advance with your loved one so he or she knows what to expect. Accept his limits.  Accept her choices. Acknowledge his feelings. 

If the person wants to be more visible during the holiday, brainstorm some things in advance.  What will he say when asked how he is? What will she do during the gathering? Is there a quiet place to retreat if needed?

Work out a plan. The loved one can walk a dog, or go outside.

If someone offers to help you with any holiday preparation, ACCEPT. 

Finally, don’t drink alcohol, especially if you are around family.

When you go to other people’s houses

Don’t overschedule.  Ensure that the person will be able to do their regular nightly routine.

Tell the person whose home you are visiting what you may need in advance. 

Go in multiple vehicles or take other modes of transportation so you can leave when you need to go.

Please don’t put yourself in a position … helping cook at someone else’s home, for example … where you can’t leave with little notice. If you are stuck, have someone … a sibling or spouse … available to get the person home if needed. 

All your great preparation may result in your loved one refusing to participate at the last minute. And that’s OK. 

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

When you make out your own Christmas wish list, ask for things that will reduce stress, whether it’s a massage, a day trip, a cleaning service or a gym membership. 

Eat right. Avoid the alcohol. Sleep. And write out a list of things that you are grateful for this year.

Live in the now.

I also create my own holiday rituals that are 100% under my control. I celebrate Advent, with a creche, a reading plan and activities that mean a lot for me.

Advent is a time of waiting. We are all waiting for the days when our loved ones will be well, whether here on Earth or in Heaven. You can lift this thought up as you celebrate.

older person's hand and young adults hand

New Resources to Help Families

For Addiction, Eating Disorders and Mental Health Issues

SouthJerseyRecovery.com is a free web resource providing information about addiction, eating disorders, and mental health issues.

Studies have found that when someone with a depressive disorder abuses alcohol, both disorders are impacted and often become more severe. In the same vein, major depressive disorder is the most common co-occurring mental health condition among those with alcohol use disorder.

To spread awareness to the public, the organization recently published a guide covering depression and addiction where we expand on the connection between depression and drug addiction, treatment options, FAQs and more.  You can find it here: https://www.southjerseyrecovery.com/treatment-programs/dual-diagnosis/depression/

Suicide and drinking are linked, and it is important to be able to tell when someone who drinks may be at risk of killing themselves. You can find that information here:

For Children’s Mental Health

We’re previously recommended Nationwide Children’s Health’s programs for families dealing with childhood mental illness, including the On Our Sleeves campaign. The pandemic has worsened the situation, with one in 5 children experiencing mental health issues in a year.

If you would like to learn more addressing the policies and problems that are making it difficult to help children with mental illness, visit the Collaboratory for Kids & Community Health website.

The collaboratory focuses on four main areas:

  • Improving neighborhoods.
  • Addressing inequities.
  • Creating population health strategies to address the national shortage of providers to care for children’s mental and behavioral health.
  • Developing value-based care programs for those with limited financial resources.

For Seniors and Their Caregivers

Caring for seniors, no matter how much we love them, comes with a lot of challenges, including higher levels of psychological stress. This becomes worse when the senior has mental health issues. We will be covering this issue soon on Loving Someone With Mental Illness.

Meantime, caring.com has a caregiver’s guide that covers burnout and stress, including how to identify and manage each. We also discuss respite care options and share a list of helpful resources for caregivers. 

You can see them here:

If you know of other helpful resources, feel welcome to let me know. Thanks!

a cross drawn in dust

Finding Peace in Dark Days

Note: This post also appears on my other blog mindfulchristianyear.com. Because loving someone with mental illness causes so many dark days, I also wanted to share it here.

Suffering is a given in any life. But, for some Christians, suffering is a shock. A sign that God isn’t paying attention. Or a symptom that they are praying incorrectly. The idea that a Christian life is all prosperity and popcorn is widespread … and wrong.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus, John 16:33

How can we “take heart” when pain and sorrow, fear and loss take up center stage in our lives. God is omnipotent. God can do anything. God could fix this in a second. Why does He allow our suffering?

Jesus warned us that we would have trouble on Earth, but He encourages us to remember that He has overcome the world. In fact, He says “so that in me you may have peace” in almost the same breath. So what does that mean exactly when pain, sorrow and loss are center stage in our lives? And how do we get there? I believe some answers come from Paul’s words about his pain and trouble in 2nd Corinthians 12:6-10.

Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul, 2nd Corinthians 12:6-10

This statement makes perfect sense when combined with the idea of a God who consents to Satan’s request for test a person, as He did to Job (Job 1:6-22) and to Peter (Luke 22:31).

God knows that suffering develops humility, a true understanding of who we each are and who God is. Without this depth of awareness, we can’t be in a strong relationship with God. Our trials not only build faith and character; they also open our eyes to the reality of our existence

Jesus prays for us in times of temptation and suffering. For example, He told Peter that He had prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. It’s notable that Jesus did not pray that Peter would not deny Him. He knew the terrible experience was necessary for Peter and for all who later learned about it.

The phrase “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” is not from the Bible. It’s from “Conan the Barbarian,” with the script slightly misquoting Nietzsche. Actually, suffering makes us weaker, which is a good thing.

Why? Because God wants people to see His presence in His Christians (and not just in Paul and Peter, either.) Suffering breaks up the vessel of our self-centeredness, our self-regard. A broken vessel displays the light of God’s presence within to others. Maintaining faith, joy and hope during a serious calamity is the best Christian witness we can ever give.

How do we do that? The good news is: It’s not up to us.

God tells us, as He told Paul: “My graces are sufficient for you.” I believe that this means that God will give us the abundant graces we need to deal with suffering without fear and anxiety, but with His peace and joy. All we need to do is be open to accept these graces.

I have found this to be true in my life. I open myself up to God in continual prayer and thanksgiving, using Christian mindfulness. God fills me up with peace and joy even in the hospital waiting room, in a locked psych ward with a loved one, at the funeral home, on the scene of the accident, in the board conference room and during the dark of the night. It’s not up to me. God is doing it for me and through me.

When we suffer and rest in God’s grace, God responds.

I will give you the secrets of darkness, riches stores in secret places, so that you may know I am the Lord, the God of Israel who summons you by name.

Isaiah 45:3

Kay Warren, co-founder of Saddleback Church, has called this experience “gritty grace.” Maybe the abrasion we feel is good for everyone.

1 in 5 kids has mental illness

How Children’s Mental Illness Hurts Workplaces

Earlier this year, Nationwide Children’s Hospital released a first-of-its-kind study on how pediatric and adolescent mental health crises impact the workforce. The answer is: Hard. Very hard.

The study is titled “The Great Collide: The Impact of Children’s Mental Health on the Workforce.” Funded by the Nationwide Foundation, it is part of Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s On Our Sleeves movement.

It found that among working parents:

  • 53 percent have missed work at least once a month to deal with a child’s mental health issues.
  • 54 percent have interrupted their work to answer communication about their child’s mental health situation during work hours.
  • 85 percent think it’s a good idea to talk about their children’s mental health issues, but few have done it.
  • Up to 50 percent are thinking about their children’s mental health while at work.

The study also found that working parents under age 40 are more concerned about their children’s mental health and more likely to select jobs offering benefits that give them access to mental health services.

If these numbers seem high to you, it’s because of the secrecy involved in dealing with a child’s mental illness. You don’t call in because your child is sick; instead you claim to be sick yourself. I know this from experience.

During the 1990s, I had a young child with mental health issues. My boss once denied me a raise specifically because of the number of phone calls that I received from my child’s school. I frequently had to go get my child at school due to behavioral problems. (My co-workers joked that I should put a courier slip in her hair on a barrette, so the courier could bring her to the office when needed. That way I wouldn’t have to leave.) I held my breath until 2:30 p.m. when school was out every work day. And that was before we had to start homeschooling for the child’s safety from bullying.

Nationwide is adding resources for parents on OnOurSleeves.org as well as rolling out a program for employers soon. Parents need this help. Therapists rarely have time to help parents with all the caregiving issues around having a child with a mental illness. Yet it’s so, so common.

ipad with medical record

Keep Your Own Record

Even today, it’s hard for medical institutions and doctors to piece together a medical record. So it can be helpful to create your own medical treatment record for your loved one with mental illness. That way you have something ready when you need to provide information.

The excellent book “When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness” by Rebecca Woolis suggests that your record contain information about:

  • Your loved one’s level of functioning before becoming ill.
    • Highest level of school attained
    • Work history
    • Level of basic life skills (cooking, cleaning, money management, experience with independent living)
    • Social skills and relationships with peers
    • Significant achievements
  • Their symptoms.
    • What they are
    • When they began
    • Worst episodes with dates
    • Most effective treatment so far
  • Treatment history.
    • Dates of psychiatric hospitalizations
    • Diagnosis
    • Types of medication used and their effectiveness (with dates if possible)
    • Types of therapy used and their effectiveness (with dates if possible)
  • Your loved one’s level of functioning between hospitalizations and treatments.
  • The names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of all members of the treatment team (psychiatrist, therapist, social worker or case manager).
  • Medical insurance information.

When you are dealing with mental health professionals, you want to appear credible. You make the best impression when you are courteous and respectful of their time. Try to understand that these professionals are under constraints such as:

  • Not being able to be effective with those who refuse treatment.
  • A heavy caseload.
  • Lack of adequate funding.
  • HIPPA and other confidentiality regulations.

Even if the illness is decades long, try to go back through your documentation to create a medical record. It will probably be more helpful than the record that the treatment team has.

alpha invite

Ask Anything

Loving Someone With Mental Illness is a support group for friends and families of those with severe and persistent mental illness. Meeting twice a month on Zoom, we share our stories, learn more about dealing with mental illness and pray together.

During October and November 2022, we are holding a series of conversations about things we question in our lives. This is a judgment-free space to connect and process questions about things, such as “Why did God allow my loved one to get sick?” and “Does God heal?” These discussions are part of our Alpha series.

Here’s a video about the Alpha series.

If you’d like to join us at Loving Someone With Mental Illness, contact karentwinem@gmail.com.

Columbus-Area Respite for Caregivers

Columbus-area caregivers now have a free program that helps both the caregiver and a loved one with mental illness. ADAMH, Concord Counseling Services and NAMI have teamed to provide this respite program for caregivers to all Franklin County, Ohio, residents.

Please Google “mental health respite programs” to find similar programs in your area.

A respite program allows a trained professional to spend time with your loved one so you can do other things. You’ll get a three-hour block per week to yourself so you can enjoy self-care and tend to other responsibilities. Even better your loved ones with mental illness get to enjoy activities they pick and interact with other people safely, with a trained mental health professional nearby.

This video explains the Concord respite program that’s free to all residents of Franklin County, Ohio.

The mental health specialist spends up to three hours a week or 12 hours per month between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. with your loved one. They can do activities at home or out in the community. Flex funds are available to help pay for the activities. There’s no waiting list at this time.

For more information about the Concord respite program, call 614-501-6264 or click here.

This image of sunlight coming through clouds illustrates God talking to us.

Talking and Listening to God

“Developing a conversational relationship with God” is the subtitle of Dallas Willard’s book “Hearing God.” Willard was a philosopher and respected Christian “teacher to the teachers” who went to be with Jesus in 2013.

Many of us who love someone with mental illness would like to speak with God. We want answers. And often we want direction.

Willard believed that God still speaks today. In fact, hearing God’s voice fits into the larger context of walking in a close friendship with him.

There is one caution: God speaks mostly to people who obey His teachings and want to do His will. Again: You need to be willing to do what God says before you are likely to hear his voice speaking to you.

As Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” Abiding in Jesus minute by minute through Christian mindfulness puts us in a position to hear God specifying His will. We become as Willard wrote “someone who leads the kind of life demonstrated in the Bible: a life of personal, intelligent interaction with God.”

Feasting on God’s word

The Bible fixes the boundaries of everything that God will say to humankind, Willard wrote. Indeed, God speaks most often during Bible reading and study. Have you ever had a verse jump off the page to you, even though you’ve read it many times? That is God speaking.

But this can also happen while listening to another person, whether it be a sermon or a conversation. I also believe that synchronicity can point the way to a message. If you hear the same verse repeatedly … in Bible study, in a sermon and in a book you’re reading … it may be God emphasizing something to you.

God also speaks through dreams, visions and events. But most of the time he speaks through a small, still voice that can only be heard in quiet. God’s voice comes in a spirit of peace, joy and good will. So God’s voice sounds like Jesus. And we can only know what Jesus sounds like through Bible study.

Seven steps toward hearing God

This summary may help you as you seek to hear God’s voice.

  1. Begin with a prayer in Jesus’ name for protection from evil influences.
  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to listen well.
  3. Remain alert.
  4. Reject anything that is contrary to Biblical truth.
  5. Feel welcome to write down the thoughts that come for further study.
  6. Understand that real communications from God are:
    • Biblically sound
    • Glorify God
    • Advance the kingdom
    • Help people
    • Help you to grow spiritually
  7. Thank God for the time together.

Walking with God in Christian mindfulness is a sweet time of communion. We should expect that God will help us learn what we should know and what we should do.

treasure in darkness

Discover Treasure in the Darkness

Several years ago, I went to a retreat for mothers with children who have mental illness at Saddleback Church’s retreat center. Rick and Kay Warren, Saddleback’s founders and senior pastors, know the struggle of parents who have a child with mental illness in an intimate and devastating way. Their son struggled for many years before the illness took his life.

Kay Warren, who led the retreat, told a story about having a dark, no-sleep night. She went downstairs to the office and looked up all the references to dark or darkness in the Bible. She found 25 pages of them in Psalms alone.  When she read this passage, she felt the Lord speaking to her.

“I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.”

Isaiah 45:3 (NRSV)

This verse has haunted me since. Is it possible that those of us who love someone with mental illness can find treasures of darkness? I studied the verse more, and it gave me even more comfort.

The verse is part of a prophecy, 210 years before the fact, about Cyrus, who defeated Babylon and was instrumental in allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem. God is talking about treasures of gold and silver that had been buried underground in Babylon.

So more than 200 years later, someone showed the book of Isaiah to Cyrus. He saw his own name and his actions predicted in it. Cyrus understood that his victory and these buried treasures came to him because of the Hebrew God. He decided to release the Hebrews because of it.

Why did God do this for Cyrus? He was a pagan. Some historians of the time wrote that he was haughty and cruel.  This much is implied: Cyrus may have undertaken his campaign of wars for his own motives, but God gave him great success so that the God of Israel could be glorified and the will of God regarding the captive Jews carried out.  When Cyrus read the prophecy, he knew that the Lord, the God of Israel called him by name.

God has called us by name as well. As our walk is deepened with Jesus, our character is deepened. In our situation, the sorrow is too deep for us to fake a relationship with God anymore.

From the Bible we know that not everything that happens in this broken world is God’s will. Just listen to Jesus in Matthew 23:37:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

But, as with Cyrus, God can work in difficult situations. God has hidden treasures in the darkness of suffering. Each of us has to ask ourselves: Will I surrender myself to God in the darkness? Will I listen?

“These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold … and your faith is more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tired by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:7 NLT)

As we know from the Bible, every Christian experiences trouble. The question is how we respond. Sometimes we envy Christians who don’t seem to suffer much. But Scripture and observation can tell us that those Christians may not learn to depend on God in a deep way (2 Corinthians 1:9). Their faith may be shallow, and their ministry skills less developed. Pain produces love in a Christian who is filled with God’s grace.

God brings extensive blessings on those of us who suffer much. Bitter blessings, to be sure. But we learn so much about how God feels about his children. We know that God gives us joy and treasure, even in deep darkness.

During the retreat, Kay Warren pointed out that enemy of our souls wants to separate us from intimacy with God. Satan wants us to focus on our pain, disappointments, cynicism and troubles, in the night especially. He wants us to dwell on the hurt and to believe that God is not there for us.

When this happens, people run from Jesus. And some never find him. I have seen first-hand the people in our situation who rely on themselves and do not have a relationship with the Lord. It isn’t pretty.

So what is the reality of our situation? It is that our child is sick and God is present. We don’t know why or how it will all work out. We don’t know the eternal plan. If God tried to tell us about it, it would be like a person talking to an ant. It’s just not possible for the ant to understand.

We truly do not know the reality of our situation and how God is working in it. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV), “Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  1 Cor. 13:12 (NIV)

We do need to reject the voice of the enemy and establish even deeper intimacy with God. We can gather the buried treasures in the darkness.  I think these treasures may be the thing that Jesus called “living water.” God has put it there for us so that we have what we need to survive and thrive.

Bring your grief and loss, your hopes and dreams, to Jesus in prayer. Spend as much time with Him as you can. As James writes, “Come close to God, and he will come close to you.” God is hurting with you over your loved one’s mental illness. He is inviting you to come, rest in His presence and drink the living water and other treasures of the darkness.

To be in God’s presence, we need to be accessible (or present), responsive and engaged. You can use the acronym ARE to check in on yourself. This intimacy with God will carry you, and even give you joy and peace.

God invites us to pray for healing of our loved one, but we must understand that some other plan may be operating that we don’t get to know about. Kay Warren pointed out that the focus of our intimacy with God cannot be on the health of our children. What has to carry us is our intimacy with God. Your desire for God has to be great, whether or not you are suffering. Frankly, the only way to do that is to ask for the graces and the treasure necessary.

“Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.”

Isaiah 50:10 (NIV)