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What You Need When Your Mentally Ill Spouse or Family Member is Draining You (It Worked a Miracle for Me)

What You Need When Your Mentally Ill Spouse Or Family Member Is Draining You (It Worked A Miracle For Me)

May 22, 2019

Let’s face it.

Our marriages and family relationships can be the source of the greatest joy in life or the most frightening energy drains in our life.

This post is intended for anyone who loves someone affected by mental illness, emotional issues, or any form of addiction.

I understand your pain. I truly do. (You can read about my own challenges here and here.)

Man with head in hands looking miserable

Photo credit: Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

When We Have Nothing Left. . .

Maybe you can relate to these thoughts and fears:

  • Can I survive this?
  • My needs aren’t being met! What about me?
  • I can’t plan anything because our life is so chaotic.
  • I’m hurt and confused by the unfairness of it all.
  • My heart breaks for my spouse/family member but I can’t seem to help!
  • Their bad decisions are leading to future pain for me. I see it coming (again)!
  • I’m starting to doubt my own thinking and my faith.
  • My hopes for what my life would be are unraveling day by day.
  • I can’t forget the awful things said to me.
  • Should I keep trying?

There is hope and there is help for you, even if we can’t answer or even discuss all of these heart-wrenching questions in this one post.

If you feel these things, know that you are not the first and you will not be the last. These challenges are so common that I’ll be addressing all of these feelings and fears one by one in the coming months, preparing the way for a brand new book to help those who suffer with mentally ill loved ones.

Hope and Perspective

Here’s a shocking thought: You are a “blessed one” in the grand scheme of things.

God trusts you a great deal. He placed you in this position. He believes in you. He is rooting for you.

You simply need to discover how to receive His help.

Think about this important quote from Rick Warren, as cited in my book, “Jesus Christ, His Life and Mine.”

“Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but . . . the goal is to grow in character, in Christ-likeness.”

Man looking through window blinds

Photo credit: Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

So, Now What?

Let’s assume you accept the truth of Rick Warren’s statement. Let’s assume you understand that God’s purpose for your life is the most important thing because ultimately, it’s eternity that really matters.

How do you get through this?

How can you not only survive but THRIVE, spiritually speaking?

The story that follows answers these two questions. Have a prayer in your heart as you read on.

Jesus, the Giver of Peace and Strength

Please resist the temptation to think, “Yeah, well I know all about Jesus and it hasn’t helped me enough.”

The story that follows changed my life. It completely changed my ability to deal with my mentally ill wife and her outrageous, unpredictable, confusing and grossly unfair behavior.

I began to feel peace and power to face the madness with hope.

David and Abigail—A Beautiful Metaphor of Christ

The symbolic meaning of this Old Testament story is so powerful that once I understood it, I never looked at “unfairness” in human relationships the same way again.

At the time of this true story, David was not yet king of Israel, although he had been anointed to become king by the hand of the prophet Samuel.

David had about six hundred men following him at the time and he was frequently being chased and harassed unfairly by king Saul, who for no valid reason had decided to make David his enemy. (See 1 Samuel chapters 22-24.)

Very likely, David was already fed up and weary from being treated poorly by people whom he had treated well.

Unfortunately, David ends up getting mistreated yet again by man named Nabal, who was described by his servants and his own wife as a “son of the devil” and such a wicked fool that “a man cannot speak to him.” (See 1 Samuel 25:17,25.)

David had been kind to Nabal’s servants and had provided them protection. But it’s difficult to feed hundreds of men in the wilderness so David sent some of his men to ask Nabal’s servants for food.

Nabal railed against David and basically told the servants, “No way, I don’t owe David anything.” (See 1 Samuel 25:10-11.)

Do you feel like David sometimes? You just want what is fair and reasonable from your spouse, from other people and from God.

That was it. David snapped. He directed his men to:

“Each of you strap on your sword!”

So they did, and David strapped his on as well.

“May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!” (1 Samuel 25:13, 22, NIV)

David intended to wipe out Nabal and all of his servants. He’d had it. No more of this!

But unknown to him, Nabal’s beautiful and intelligent wife hears of her husband’s rudeness and of David’s planned attack. She quickly gathers up many supplies and with her servants and food offerings going before her, she approaches David like this:

Abigail looks concerned before David

Photo credit: Goodsalt

When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you.” (1 Samuel 25:23-24, NIV)

At this beautiful point in the story, Abigail becomes a symbol of Jesus Christ, He who can make us whole when others have wronged us.

As you continue to read, imagine yourself as David—repeatedly hurt and wronged, fed up, hungry and sick of the whole situation—and picture the Savior Himself, bent to the ground in front of you.

Yes, He who washed the feet of His apostles is bowing at your feet to make you whole.

If you have any feelings of anger or violence in you, do they not melt as you see God lower Himself in front of you—the very picture of humility? Does this not bring you to your own knees before Him?

Abigail speaks:

“… let this gift [meaning all of the food and supplies], which your servant [meaning Abigail] has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.

“. . . The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord [meaning David], because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. (1 Samuel 25:27-28, NIV)

How To Make This Story Work for You

Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament. His resources are unlimited! He never gets tired. He never gets sick of helping you. He is unlimited in His desire to help you. But you need to learn how to focus on Him.

Picture Him in front of you, giving you what your loved ones may be unable to give.

He can light a powerful fire in your life that fills you with energy from the inside.

All you have to do is light the match to get it started:

“And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ . . (1 John 3:23, NIV)

Too often we say, “I believe in Jesus,” but not in the deep, purposeful way that the scriptures talk about, then accompanied by our sincere efforts to follow His way. . . whatever the price.

man praying in the sun

Photo credit: Ben White on Unsplash

To make the story of David and Abigail work for you, picture Jesus—like Abigail—bent low to the ground, surrounded by food and supplies (and for you ENERGY and LOVE).

Imagine the creator of heavens and earth bent low in humility and kindness saying, “I can give you what others around you are not giving you.”

I will make you a promise:

When you focus on Jesus’s gifts to you instead of your frustration with the people who want things from you, you will begin to have your strength renewed.

Abigail kneeling before David

Image courtesy Godworld

(Note: This post was inspired by the book, The Peacegiver, by James Ferrell.)

Questions and Answers

Earlier, I asked if you’re ever wondering, “How do I get through this? How can I not only survive but THRIVE, spiritually speaking?”

Can you see yourself as David? You survive the same way David and his men survived. Christ (Abigail) will give you strength when your family members cannot meet your needs or ease your confusion or give to you when you need someone to give. When they hurt you over and over and you feel you have nothing left, only God can fill you.

And how can you THRIVE? The short answer is that you must shift your focus from the things of this world to the true purpose of your life: preparing for eternity with God. That is a much larger question and will be the focus of many upcoming posts.

And what about this list of gut-twisting questions that you saw earlier? There are actually very good and helpful answers to all of them. We’ll tackle these in time.

  • Can I survive this?
  • My needs aren’t being met! What about me?
  • I can’t plan anything because our life is so chaotic.
  • I’m hurt and confused by the unfairness of it all.
  • My heart breaks for my spouse/family member but I can’t seem to help!
  • Their bad decisions are leading to future pain for me. I see it coming (again)!
  • I’m starting to doubt my own thinking and my faith.
  • My hopes for what my life would be are unraveling day by day.
  • I can’t forget the awful things said to me.
  • Should I keep trying?

Stay tuned and keep your inner eyes and heart focused on Jesus as best you can. That’s where it all starts.

A Final Testimony of the Power of Jesus

A single post online like this can trigger important thoughts, but it’s unlikely to fully resolve everything. However, here’s a message of hope for you:

Our marriage survived because we drew strength from Christ. We made Him first in our lives. We were refined in the process. God was and is making us more Christ-like.

Your marriage is worth any price (except abuse by your spouse, of course). Believe in your love for that person. It is worth any price!

People can and do get better. They do learn to deal with their illnesses. Medications can and do help. Marriages and families do heal and enjoy a more loving, peaceful environment.

The KEY is to plant your feet firmly looking at Jesus Christ, bent low in humility before you, and then to drop to your knees with belief and acceptance. Get your strength from Him.

Below is a must-read post if you’re in a relationship with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder or Bipolar Disorder or any other behavior that just seems unexplainably whacked out to you! 🙂 Hey, I’ve been there and I thought I was in the Twilight Zone every other day for over 20 years! It was a living hell.

As a spouse, you have needs and hopes and desires too, of course! It’s so easy to try to fulfill those in negative ways like flirting/cheating with others, spending money, addictions, avoiding home, endless hours on video games, angry lashing out. . . whatever.

Don’t go there. Learn to look to Jesus with more determination and more reliance.

Please read this post for more about our story:

Man hugging woman with yearning faces

Photo by NeoBrand on Unsplash

How Can I Learn to Trust in Jesus?

Please don’t interpret what I say next as just a sales strategy to sell my book. I spent over 20 years writing a book that truly helps people connect to Christ and follow Him in solving modern problems just like this one. This book, Jesus Christ, His Life and Mine, is special and it is powerful, as evidenced by the many reviews on Amazon and the growing list of critics and authors who praise it.

By studying His life from beginning to end in great detail and comparing it to your own situation, you will begin to feel empowered like nothing you have ever felt. Why? Because Jesus is the light of the world and we cannot fulfill our destiny without His light filling us! He is central to our purpose in this life. His grace and enabling power is exactly what we need when we are drop-dead drained. Learn more here.

Cover of Jesus Christ, His Life and Mine

reading

Estimated Reading Time:
4 – 5 minutes

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