Dear Inner Circle,

It’s good to be back after a week off, chasing my teenagers around. It took me another week to recover, hence my note didn’t reach your inbox until now. Mostly in these notes, I share about the work of Wayside, but this note is personal, very personal. I have the full permission of an inspiring young woman to share this with you.

From as early as we can remember one of our beautiful daughters has always been a larger than life character. From the moment she burst onto this earth she stunned us all, learning to say words at six months and stringing sentences together at nine months. This girl from the beginning has amazed, inspired, and won our full attention. Despite her brilliance and perhaps even to some extent because of it, she has struggled with finding her place in the world. The teenage years have brought new intensity to this struggle, to the extent that she found herself needing quite intensive support as anxiety and depression threatened to overwhelm her little frame. When people compliment me on the job I’m doing at Wayside or when they praise me for any reason, there is an ache at the bottom of my heart because I’m a father who can’t do the one thing I’d love to do above all else.

During a few admissions into hospitals and clinics, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and Bipolar disorder. These diagnoses were far from the beginning of the end, rather, they were the end of the beginning. She works harder than anyone I know to maintain a sense of equilibrium in her life. As parents, we are at times overwhelmed with our own helplessness and at the same time, filled with pride and admiration at the courage with which she faces life and works to achieve balance.

This young woman is not only brilliant, but she has the wisdom to recognise her struggle. Last week she checked herself into a clinic for a three-week stay to help her get a handle on life again. I wish more adults possessed half of her self-knowledge. At the admission last week, we noticed that the facility was full to overflowing. We are so acutely aware that this pandemic exerts pain for all of us in some way, but most of all, for those whose mental health issues add another dimension to what we mean when we use the word, “struggle” or “suffering”.

I urge you to be kind to everyone in your life. You may not know the depth of struggle that familiar faces sometimes hide. Particularly if you know someone who is wrestling with mental health issues at this time, find extraordinary patience. These are difficult days and the people around you are worth every effort you can make at kindness.

Thanks for being a part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor and CEO
Wayside Chapel

If this note has affected you or caused distress, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or you can text or chat with them online here

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