Take Courage

Doug-Stacee Sept 29 Hey everyone! I’m on the road today, and I’ve hijacked Stacee’s blog for a little bit…..! Actually she knows about it - I asked her if I could write the next blog post. Hopefully she (and you) are ok with it after reading this ....! :)

I’m so proud of Stacee and so appreciative of you for reading Speak Out Loud. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” It’s easy to get lost in all the “comforts” in those two verses, but essentially it’s saying God gives us purpose in our pain. As we experience His hope and healing, He equips us to comfort and encourage others as they hurt and struggle. As fellow journeyers (we definitely haven’t arrived yet), we know it’s tough when you are stuck in the middle of it (oh, how we know), but there is a purpose for our pain! This purpose, that God would somehow take this story and use it, is what kept Stacee going many days I think - that and her determination to not quit for our family’s sake. And I am so thankful she didn’t.

As I stop and think about this journey Stacee and our family are on, I realize I’ve had a front-row seat to an incredible demonstration of courage as Stacee has walked the long road of recovery. I am fully convinced that battling mental illness, eating disorders, and all kinds of harmful ways we try to deal with pain, takes a tremendous amount of courage. Courage to enter the crucible of change. Courage to do the recovery process – the counseling, the medicine, the doctor visits (in many respects, the courage to relearn how to “emotionally and mentally walk”). Courage to trust the opposite of everything you feel. Courage to face the misunderstanding and judgment. Courage to not quit.

At each step of this journey, I’ve watched Stacee be courageous. Some weeks, months, and even years, that courage was demonstrated in the determination to not give up, to pick herself up even though she felt defeated, and to take that next step, eat that next bite, or make that next appointment. I’ve seen her courageously go to church, our daughters’ events, and other social events, when her feelings and illness screamed for isolation. As she wrote about last week, I have seen her courageously confront the negative thoughts that often “chant inside her head” by reading the Bible, meditating on Scriptures, and embracing Jesus through communion rather than pushing Him away.

All of these efforts, and many, many more, have been vitally important to her recovery process, and every one took courage on a daily basis. Mental illness possesses many cruelties, but I think one of the most sinister is that it not only robs a person of the ability to perceive reality correctly, but it also robs them of the spirit needed to fight something so sinister. It’s kind of a double whammy – the brain is sick, and the spirit, passion, and hope that are so critical to help overcome a major disease are gone. It takes courage to do the things necessary to get better, even when all hope feels lost and all you can see is darkness around you. But to those who struggle and to those who love them, God does provide the light of hope. God can and will bring you through this, but it requires the courage to trust Him.

The best definition I’ve ever heard of the word “encourage” simply breaks the word into its two parts: “en” and “courage” – literally, “to put courage into.” We all need encouragement, “infusions of courage,” to face head on the struggles and challenges life throws in front of us and onto our backs – and especially if those struggles include mental illness.

Allow me to share one vision of the future with you today to “infuse” you with the courage to not quit in your journey through your hurt and pain. Recently Stacee and I were talking about some of the negative cycles and patterns in our lives, how some we had “inherited” and some we had developed on our own, and the impact they’ve had on our lives and our marriage. In the midst of that conversation, it struck me, though, that Stacee's determination to not quit has broken those cycles from being passed down to our daughters. Yes, they may have issues they have to face and deal with on their own one day (both from their own choices and the fact that we are far from perfect parents…) but cycles and patterns handed down to Stacee are not being handed down to our daughters. The courage to change is going to have a generational impact on our two daughters, our future grandchildren, and generations to come!! Stacee’s courage, your courage to press on in this recovery journey, is not just impacting you or even your immediate family – you are impacting generations!

There is hope and there is light if you don’t give up on this healing change process God is taking you through! Take courage, take heart, and press on! Trust me, I’ve seen what courage can do – and it’s worth it!

--Doug (Stacee's Husband)