Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

The Greatest Commandment: Show Up With Flowers

I stayed relatively silent about my depression for two decades because I felt I had no right to complain.

Two million children in Africa die a year from Malaria. That’s suffering. Mothers risk their lives to give birth in war-torn Iraq. That’s suffering. Women in Darfur risk rape for their freedom. That’s suffering.

A rich, white American woman suffer? I don’t think so.

But that’s like saying the boy with an iPod shouldn’t cry when he breaks his leg because his parents are loaded. Or my affluent neighbor who suddenly lost her husband to a heart attack last year is self-serving to grieve. Her money invalidates her pain, no?


I agree. I haven’t walked a mile in an Afghan woman’s sandals. And based on the headlines I read, I don’t want to. I feel for her, and I pray for her. But it’s unfair to say that I’m immune to pain because I’m rich (compared to the rest of the world) and white and American.

If depression, bipolar disorder, and all mental illnesses weren’t so painful, why would 30,000 Americans kill themselves each year? Why would suicide take more lives than traffic accidents, lung disease, or AIDS? Why would suicide be ranked as the second-leading cause of death worldwide among females between the ages of 15 and 44 (according to the World Health Organization)? Why would depression be expected to be the second most debilitating disease worldwide by 2020, and be considered (according to some experts) more debilitating than many common medical conditions today, such as diabetes and arthritis?


But who cares about the numbers.

Jesus didn’t teach us to compare each other’s burdens and vote on which one deserves compassion. His greatest commandment was this: “That we shall love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and that we shall love our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22: 37-39).

Which means that if my neighbor is grieving the loss of her husband, I show up with flowers.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment spareparts

    Phenomenal post, Therese.

    I often am in great pain, or get hurt during the course of my day. I then tell myself, “Well, Lord, it’s not NEAR the pain and ridicule you were put through, so my stuff is nothing and I’m NOT going to whine.”

    I can’t tell you WHERE that comes from. At this point it seems I will never get better.

    I can tell you that I AM back on my meds, though. Now instead of giving myself “one more day”, I can see, maybe 10 days ahead. Maybe. It’s getting better. I think.

    Anyway, many thanks for all you do.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Deb (OLD FLY GIRL)

    Excellent article! Sometimes I feel SO GUILTY about my own ‘minor’ pain. Your’e right….Jesus never intended for us to compare pain and devalue one’s in preference to another’s. In His eyes, as should be in ours…pain is pain…even our own. And He is the only one (for me at least) that can heal it. Thank you, Therese, and God Bless your day!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jean

    Most of my problems are caused by a rotten neighborhood situation and a worthless slumlord who won’t take any action against his scuzzy tenants. And a bad family situation, which includes weakling namby-pamby relatives. Prayers do help.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment rita

    A friend wrote that you can’t compare your hell to someone else’s hell. You can’t put them on a spreadsheet and compare them, no matter where you are in hell, you’re still in hell. That has helped a lot to assuage my guilt over expressing my pain. Yes I’m still in hell and yes, it hurts, and its okay to say that.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Margaret


    Thank you for sharing the Words that God gives you – for us.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Dorothy Stephens

    I just found you. Thank you.

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