Mental Health Care = Priceless?

So I have a friend who is looking into seeing a counselor. Nothing is “majorly” wrong, he just (like most of us) has some things to work through. As someone who has seen many counselors, I know how much it has benefited my life and helped me become a healthier, stronger person. So my friend was given a recommendation of a great Christian counselor to see. As he looked into it, each session would cost $110. Insurance wouldn’t help pay for any of that until he had spent over $800. His options? To look elsewhere and see what he can afford.

I went to buy one of four prescription medicines I take. My employer had just changed my insurance, so before I handed them my new card, I saw that one of month’s worth of the generic prescription medicine I was about to buy was over $125. I am incredibly blessed that insurance helps cover it, because otherwise I’m not sure I could afford to be on one, much less the four medicines I take.

As I sat in the drive-through waiting to get my medicine, I was struck by the sadness of what mental health care costs. I know of people who deal with incredibly difficult issues, who really need physical and mental care…except they can’t afford it. So what’s worse than being depressed, bi-polar, or just working through hard times? The added stress and frustration of not being able to get the help you need to make it through.

In my counseling class last Monday, my professor talked about the privilege we have of walking with people in their pain. That’s what counselors get to do. That’s what I want to do. It makes me sad that we have to put a price tag on that process.

I don’t know what I’ll be like as a counselor, or even how/where I’ll be using those counseling skills. But I do know, if possible, I want to make it affordable. Yes, I know that medicines and professional care can/has to/should cost a little. But I hope that even if we aren’t professionals, we are willing to reach out to people who are going through hard times. Because no one should have to pay for someone to walk with them through their pain.


Pondering the Status

If you’re anything like me, you ponder your status in life. And by that, I mean THE status…the Facebook status. (Twitter updates are also acceptable.)

I joke about it, but I do spend time thinking about what I want to update my status to be. Will it be something funny that happened that day? A witty thought? Some clever, deep, insightful comment? A verse or quote I love, a song lyric stuck in my head? It’s to the point where circumstances and my thoughts just become more food for statuses to be put on Facebook or Twittered about. (Let’s pretend that’s comical rather than pathetic, ok? K.)

So tonight, I had just finished reading a great book called Crazy Love. And I was trying to figure out how to put the millions of thoughts and emotions I had into a status. I had just read dozens of thought-provoking, deep, challenging statements and ideas…which one was worthy to be entered into a text box and shared with all my friends?

And somehow the result ended up being…I couldn’t let my next status be about me. The only appropriate response I could think of was to use my status to see what I could somehow do for someone else. My status ended up simply being: “How could I pray for you today?”

It’s too easy to spend my day contemplating what my status is or will be. But I can’t think of a better way to spend my day than focusing more on the status of other people’s lives, rather than my own.


What I learned from Christmas trees and open windows

I love Christmas lights. Truly, I adore them. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered that around Christmas time, people in my apartments started decorating their little balconies and porches with Christmas lights. It’s like everyone was given their own plot of concrete and railings to make whatever they wanted.

One night I was out taking my precious puppy Ellie for a walk. I was taking in all the scattered balconies that were glittering, when I suddenly noticed that several apartments had windows open, too. That was when I noticed people were showing off more than just sparkle on their railings; they were showing off the shimmering Christmas trees and decorations inside also.

It hit me: in any other month, every single one of these windows would have been closed. But during this special time, people were opening their windows and letting total strangers catch glimpses of the inside of their worlds–simply because they had something beautiful to display. A Christmas tree. And they wanted everyone to see it, maybe to show off, or maybe just to share joy. And on that night, all the beautiful trees with lights and glimpses into people’s homes left me smiling.

It also made me wonder: many of us have something more beautiful than a Christmas tree inside our lives. We have a bright, sparkling, joy-bringing, smile-giving beauty inside us. But most of the time the windows on our lives are kept closed, too. Maybe we’re embarassed that our lives might not be clean or neat enough; maybe we want the privacy. But the fact is, when we keep our lives closed, there are people who are missing out on something we have to offer. And, unlike the Christmas tree, it’s something we can offer all year round.

What if we started realizing what we could give to the world? What if, like the people in my apartments, we opened up the windows to let people see in, simply because there’s something beautiful there? We have personal gifts, talents, and characteristics that can bless other people’s lives. And many of us have the Light of the World to shine out, the Light that so many are desperate for.

Christmas may be over, but maybe we need to keep our windows open, to offer beauty and the truest Light to those who may pass by.

Starting small

Just a bit ago, I Facebooked/Twittered the following status:

“I want to write more, and establish a non-profit, and help people who are hurting, and maybe somehow change the world.”

A few days ago, a tiny inquiry began to roll around in my head. I have started wondering and hoping and praying over the simple question: Do the small things really make a difference?

And then pondering: What if I lived as though the small things made a difference? What if there were small things I did daily that could, somehow, change things…change a person?

So I decided to do something tonight. I decided to take a small step, and write a small blog post, and go from there.

Let’s see if it makes a difference.