Turning the Page

I will Champion your Mental Health

July 22, 2021

Life has many struggles, but with a champion, someone who will walk and talk, we have someone who reminds us of our progress and gives us hope.

I was recently talking with someone about the struggles in their life. We had walked many a mile together over the years.

As we talked, I asked if they remembered how they were five years ago. We actually rated some of their feelings. Five years ago, it was a 9 out of 10 struggle, but now it was 2 out of 10.

They looked up with a sense of realization. Things had actually changed. Some of the issues they faced back then hadn’t changed that much, but many of them had.

From this, they took a great deal of encouragement, and I did too.

For them, the deepest parts of their journey had not been seen by many. They didn’t want others to know. But there were a few special people, such as myself, that they had let into their private dark hole.

In my eyes, they were a superhero. Very few went where they went. Now they were strong in ways unimaginable a few years ago.

Noticing the progress

Have you ever been to a forest, and all you see are the trees, the obstacles, and maybe a faint path to follow?

Your attention gets consumed by what is all around you.

You forget about how far you’ve come. Sure, you might feel it in your body. Aches and pains, but all you know is the depth and darkness of the forest.

That is until you climb a hill, or there is a break in the trees, and you can look back and see how far you’ve come. You’re amazed at the progress from placing one foot in front of another—one millimeter at a time.

There is a saying, ‘You can’t see the forest for the trees. ‘

I would also say you can’t see the progress for the trees.

The depth of the present struggle is so all-consuming that there is no pause to take in the wonder of where you’ve come from.

A champion walking alongside us invites us to take a break, have a sip of water and celebrate the progress.

I think it’s so important to have people in our lives that in various ways, can lift us out of the daily battle with the trees, the brush, and the weeds.

They point out how far we have come and offer us a perspective about where we are going.

Then it’s back to the millimeter by millimeter bush-bashing through the shrubbery of weeds and wilderness.

There can be loneliness to this journey.

One of the features of many people’s journey is loneliness. You feel that no one is there with you.

Possibly you might have friends and family, but there you are with your happy mask because you don’t want anyone else to know the deep struggle you’re going through.

So you’re alone.

You may have reached out, been dismissed, felt overlooked, and disregarded. No one gets you.

You wonder why you’re so self-focused. Isnt that selfishness?

Surely others have it worse off than you.  Maybe they do, but actually, you don’t know. Your journey is your journey.

You trudge on seeing the trees, the weeds, the struggle.

The champion in your family

There is an interesting little verse in the Psalms.

God places the lonely in families Psalm 68:6

This is not so much a family of mum, dad, and the kids. More so, it is a nest of relationships where we can call home.

I have a champion in my family nest. Actually, I might have more than one.

This is not someone who has a big shiny winners cup but more so someone who desires to champion me.

A champion is someone who supports
or defends a person or cause.

Think of these champions

    • Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement
    • Nelson Mandela and the Anti-apartheid movement
    • Kate Shepherd and the women’s suffrage movement
    • Bill Sinclair and his support of John Bishop
    • Mary Smith and her commitment to her friend Jenny Bertland

You probably don’t know the last two champion names on the list. I don’t know them either. They are fictitious. I made them up.

But you probably do know people like them.

People who walk alongside someone and encourage them when they can’t see the forest for the trees. They can’t see the progress for the weeds.

We all need a Mental health champion.

I recently had a champion share some very kind words with me. It filled my heart like a breathe of fresh air fills the lungs.

I sucked it in and let it seep in deep.

They weren’t trite words. Instead, they were words crafted out of a known awareness of being in a battle themselves. They knew the walk and so could talk the walk.

I needed that.

Into the pool room – my encouragement journal – went their words.

 

I believe we all need people who will regularly come alongside and pour words of life into the dry and parched areas of the soul. People who have taken the time to watch and listen.

Friends who will champion us as a person of great worth and value.

Let’s walk and talk

We need more Bills and Marys to walk and talk with Johns and Jennys.

Champions.

We have a mental health crisis, and I believe much of it could be addressed by people learning how to walk and talk.

Sharing some wisdom, crying together, laughing.

Reflecting on progress made in life because there were simple conversations and words of encouragement.

I wonder what would happen if all of us would say to one other person, I want to walk and talk with you and be your champion?

Quotes to consider

  • The word encouragement has its root in the Latin word cor, which literally means “heart”. So does the word courage.  To have courage means to have heart. To encourage – to provide with or give courage – literally means to give others heart. James Kouzes and Barry Posner – Encouraging the Heart
  • Research teaches us that the capacity to reach out to others for help in dealing with fear and pain is the best single remedy for emotional injury.  Whether the person is struggling with the effects of combat, rape, or childhood injury, the best predictor of trauma resolution is good social support. Terrence Real, I Don’t Want To Talk About It.
  • Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one. C.S. Lewis
  • Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
    Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
    Walk beside me… just be my friend. Albert Camus
  • Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. Mother Teresa
  •  Loneliness is the first thing which God’s eye named not good. John Milton
  • “There is a soul yonder which is lonely.” And he added, deep in his own mind, “I owe him a visit.” The priest in Les Miserables  Victor Hugo
  • Real encouragement occurs when words are spoken from a heart of love to another’s recognized fear.  Larry Crabb
  • Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. Desmond Tutu

Questions to answer

  1. Who has been a champion for you?
  2. What are the qualities of a good champion?
  3. Are you able to look back and see the progress?

Further reading

Do You Feel Alone in Your Struggle?

God Sets the Lonely in Families

Why Men Don’t Talk. 26 Reasons for Silence

Barry Pearman

Photo by Malte Schmidt on Unsplash

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