We dug out some old home movies from Noah’s first three years last night and watched with much laughter and joy. Having had them tucked away all these years, it was quite amusing to Noah. He watched his baby self struggling to learn to crawl, to talk, and cackled as he heard all the sounds he made from his earliest days. What a noisy little guy he was, but happy, bright eyed and busy!

In movie form, I watched and listened to Erick and myself as we interacted with our baby, then our toddler. Noah got to see his sister loving on him, carrying him around, laughing with him and caring warmly for her little brother. He watched as his little arms curled around her neck and looked at her with adoration. How wonderful that those moments are captured and can be revisited…

I especially enjoyed watching Noah as he saw how sweet Erick was with him, how much Erick talked to him before he was able to say a word back. I teased as we watched and said, “that’s the most you’ve ever heard your daddy say!” So precious…

All of this along with so much going on currently has thoughts stirring this morning, questions, still unanswered from long ago filling my mind.

Not all folks bother with unanswered questions. Maybe that’s why so many remain unanswered. Yet, for the sake of those coming after us, might we have a responsibility to seek understanding instead of simply passing on to them that which we failed to resolve?

So I’m back in the question pond this morning, diving deep and swimming around 😉

Psychology. My field of study seeks to answer life’s most complex questions. We seek to understand the mind, behavior, and relationships. Disorder is explored, defined, redefined, and sometimes even no longer deemed disorder at all. That’s troubling!

Every year I find it more important to define mental well-being as opposed to focusing on “disorder” or “abnormal behavior.” The way I see it, abnormal (meaning different from normative) could just as easily signify something favorable as it could signify something unfavorable. After all, normal (meaning commonly practiced) behavior is not optimal. Few live optimally, with high levels of integrity, compassion, and honesty. So maybe normal shouldn’t be the standard or the goal.

I’ve come to loosely define mental and emotional well-being as the ability to experience the full range of human thought and emotion while remaining true to one’s core values, maintaining stable relationships and living up to daily commitments. It is certainly not the absence of suffering (depressed thoughts and feelings, fluctuating moods, grief, struggle, etc.). Suffering is to be dealt with by all as it is a natural response to life challenges.

I’m bothered by all of the labeling and diagnosing “disorders” when truly what is often needed is simply more learning, further development, better skills, not pills. I’m certainly not saying we should have no medications to help when needed, but how we go about determining when it is needed is of great concern. Check the statistics on addiction and you’ll understand why.

Not meaning to be the word police or attitude police, but honestly considering the source of much “disorder” and what I cannot ignore is the level of discord, disharmony, and disrespect that is rampant. It is literally everywhere, and I think it just might be killing us. I know it’s killing relationships and they are central to our purpose and identity.

Some of the kindest most honorable souls I’ve ever known have despaired the most. I go back to the shock of my earliest close loss. Suicide robbed me of kindness embodied in the person of my precious aunt. Her words were kind, her heart compassionate, her life one of service, her home a place of joy for me and my sister. The unanswered question looms…why such an end to such a beautiful life? Was it mental illness? Her mental illness? In my heart of hearts, the answer is no.

When I listen to current news debates of terrorism, I hear some say we cannot defeat an enemy that we have not rightly named. I believe this applies in psychology as well. When we unravel the threads of trouble that leads one to the attention of those in the mental health field, it never ends in the person positioned before us. It is always a thread connecting to many others and we never, ever find the original stitch. From one to another, generation to generation, unanswered questions, unresolved conflicts, unconfessed, unrepentant sin, call it what you wish, the original source is long since gone and with him or her, the answers we seek.

Now…as a person of faith, I know Jesus is the answer to all else unanswered. He is the source of healing and peace. He is our strength and shield. Knowing and speaking this truth, though, I never want it believed that I count those despairing as lacking in faith. I’ve read Job and accounts of King David. Both despaired and languished, along with Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul spoke of being under such great pressure that he despaired of life itself (2 Corinthians). The carefulness with which professing followers of Christ must approach these matters cannot be overstated. Careful, because faith itself, life and death are the issues at hand.

I was told once by a caring friend that because of both my personal experience with suicide being in the family coupled with my 5 years of work in crisis mental health, I am overly sensitive about it. I smile in remembrance. “Yes,” I agreed. My unspoken thought, “as would you be if you walked this same road.” Could I not offer an equal truth, “because of your lack of personal and professional experience with suicide, you are out of touch with the magnitude and reality of it.” I did not say this not wanting to offend. Always, always, the story of my life, not wanting to offend. I’ve come to believe peace seekers and peace makers truly suffer the most.

As I stumbled back through all of this earlier today and at the time of this writing, these words of scripture come and comfort:

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay saith the Lord.

Romans 12:10-19

I come to this writing exhausted. I close at a place of rest. Only The Good Lord can and will, in His time, make all things new. He will remove the old waste places and there will be streams of water in the desert. He promised heaven, a place of no more tears, no sickness or strife, just JOY and unending peace…Like Jesus, One with The Father. No more division or hurtful words or rebellion; no jealousy, no hidden truth; open, bright, and free.

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