When Jesus Visited Me

Some things you never forget.

I’ll never forget how Jesus visited me in my hour of weakness and fear.

2015 was a whole year of increasing pain and declining health that resulted in two discectomies and 3 months of recovery. I was frequently discouraged, often in pain. Yet, praise Jesus, I was never alone.

Related post: What Faith Looks Like When You’re Afraid

On the night I awoke in more pain than I could imagine, Jesus sent my wife to look over me, to see that I got the help I needed. He sent paramedics with medical training to carefully lift me from my bed, carry me down the stairs, out the door, into the ambulance. He sent me a staff of care-givers: surgeons, nurses, technicians to help put a stop to the degeneration that led me to Northside Forsythe Hospital.

The next day, Jesus sent my pastor to pray for me and chat about the kitchen I would continue building for Dawn after this was all over. Then, he sent Alan and Barbara, and Sam and Bobby. He sent Graciela to sit with Dawn during the surgery, and Jesse and Susan afterward.

Later, he sent a small army of family, friends, and neighbors one-by-one, or in pairs, to visit me during my recovery:

My Mom and my children, and my first boss in the IT world, Loren; my friend and neighbor, Robin; Steve and Elaine from our old church; and Julie, and Mark and Aleta, Willette, and Steven from our new church; my running friends, Jason and David, and Patrick, who also served Dawn and me communion since I couldn’t go to church. He even sent my neighbor, Matt, to rake my lawn of fallen leaves.

Jesus also sent me gifts of food, books, and puzzles, and coffee and candy, from my colleagues at work, and even from my old boss, Kevin.

When it was clear I would need a second surgery and more recovery time, Jesus kept sending them. They called. They visited. They asked about me at church. They prayed with me. Chris and Mark sat with me as I, in visible anxiety, was being prepped for that surgery.

Related post: When Your Surgeon Looks Disappointed

Jesus sent and they came, and came. Some by word, some by a meal or a gift, some by my side. Some visited me in the name of Jesus. Some in the name of friendship. But, all because Jesus sent.

I have never been the object of such affection and compassion.

Nor, shall I ever forget when Jesus visited me.


6 Ways to Love Someone With Anxiety or Depression

The following is a guest post I wrote for Anne Marie Miller’s website on June 16, 2014. It was republished by ChurchLeaders.com. I wanted to share it with you today, here on Average Us.—Lon

You’re probably familiar with this passage of the Bible written by the Apostle Paul:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.—1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV

We love these verses, don’t we? Beautiful written, wonderfully inspiring. You may even have had them recited at your wedding.

But what if loving this way involves supporting a spouse or a child with emotional health issues? What does 1 Corinthian 13 look like in that kind of real, often dark, life?

I live with three such women—one wife and two daughters, all in counseling, two on medication—and I want to share what I’ve learned about loving and supporting them as Paul instructs. I hope you’ll find inspiration and new courage to love a similar someone in your life.


Love believes all things…

What your spouse or child is feeling?—It’s real. It’s not “just in their head,” not in the dismissive way we usually use that phrase. The single most loving thing you can do for someone struggling with a mental health issue is to let them feel the validating sense of relief that comes from being believed.

Let your loved ones know it’s safe to confide their weird, icky, creepy, dark, scary thoughts with trustful, trustworthy, compassionate you.


Love is not arrogant or rude…

Most mental health issues aren’t caused by sinful decisions a person has made. Being bipolar, or depressed, aren’t sins people commit. Rather, they are specific manifestations of the universal human fall into sin and misery. They are signs of the same broken, sinful nature abiding within you. Anne Jackson has written more about this in Your Anxiety is Not a Sin.

Let your loved ones know you still respect and admire them. They need to know your good opinion of them hasn’t changed.


Love is patient, not irritable…

You may hear the same, or similar, story over and over and over…

Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t let exasperation slip out, even if you feel it once in a while. Instead, listen actively, patiently. Ask gentle questions, not to fix “it,” but to hear “it.”

Give your loved ones the sounding board they need to process how they feel.


Love hopes all things…

“It” is real, but it doesn’t haveto be the 24/7 center of family life.

Keep your daily routines and annual traditions to maintain a sense of order and rhythm to life. The idea isn’t to pretend nothing is wrong, but to remind you and your family that life is still worth living.

Help your loved ones see the meaningful enjoyment of small accomplishments, and family games, Sunday sermons, and trips to the beach. Make fun together. Make memories together. Laugh together.


Love bears all things…

Pray with them. For them. Out loud.

Few things will fire more warmth and trust in a relationship than the simple act of asking God to help your loved one.

A childlike plea will do. Often, the very act of praying for a loved one in need becomes the answer in the moment of need.


Love endures all things…

Life as you knew itmay be interrupted for a while.

You may have to become a caregiver and life coach for a season. You may be needed at 3 am to sooth a panic attack.

You may have to make time just to help your loved one walk outside, to experience the sun and grass and flowers. You may need to do the laundry, at the last minute, just because. You may need to attend counseling or a support group. Maybe because he wants you to, maybe because she won’t go without you.

You may have to become more than you imagined you could.

But, love will endure all this and more.


Where will you find the inner resources to love this way?

I’ve found that I have to rely on God for that.

I have to bring my weakness to Him to ask for His strength. I have to confess my inadequacy to ask for His sufficiency. I am the average husband and father who makes mistakes, speaks too harshly, listens half-heartedly, who sometimes, just doesn’t get it.

But God is great for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. God will pour out the Spirit of Christ to fill you with His love, patience, kindness, endurance, and all that you need to love the struggling person in your life well.

And even if this season of life lasts longer than you can imagine, set your hope on Christ’s promise of eternal peace and rest beyond the present suffering. Trust Him for this.

He is great, even when life isn’t.

Do you love someone, or are you someone, who struggles with anxiety or depression? Any thoughts to share? Please do in the comments below.