In “The Gift of Helping,” we are exploring the spiritual gift of helping and how it applies far beyond the scope of acts of service at church. The gift of helping is a series of scripture meditations orbiting around personal anecdotes about 10 people who helped me in life saving ways in the last 10 years by exercising the unassuming gift of helping.
As it is Good Friday, the day the Church remembers the death of Jesus on the cross, it seems abundantly appropriate to talk about camaraderie as a function of the gift of helping.
Is it not in the spirit of friendship and shared fortune that Jesus chose a close association with us that both lead Him to and qualified Him for the cross?
Camaraderie is more than a joint membership of a team, it is more akin to a common identity shaped by shared experience. Jesus chose to share our identity as flesh and blood, and though uninfected by sin, He became the disease so that His friendship with us could initiate us into camaraderie with God. (Read Romans 8:15-17.)
Disease of the mind is a lonesome one to have. There is nothing to make a person feel so peculiarly “other” than to realize that the thoughts and perceptions you experience are not shared by anyone, excepting those who are also “other.”
As soon as I was given my diagnosis of bipolar 1 disorder, my parents scoured the internet and reached out to any and every person they could find for information about mental illness and mood disorders. One thing that they discovered pretty early on is that genetically, epilepsy is closely associated with bipolar disorder.
My dad had childhood epilepsy. So did his mom. He has recounted to me how terrifying grand mal seizures were to experience as an elementary aged kid. He told me how by the age of 12 he began to refuse medication because he felt that the meds didn’t ward off the seizures and made them worse when he did have them.
In the early days of my diagnosis, 10 years ago, when I would get insecure and agitated about the loneliness of my illness as well as the lack of understanding from others regarding what my day to day battles were, my dad would lift my face up to make eye contact with me, (and I’d keep my gaze down anyway), and he would say to me, “Nattie, hey, it’s my epilepsy. You got this from me. Bipolar is the same thing as what I have.”
To say to another, “I am of you, and you are of me. Victory and defeat, we share it all because our resources and weaknesses are the same”– this is camaraderie. It’s also a pretty good explanation of why it is that there is salvation at the cross.
There is salvation at the cross because Jesus shared with us His DNA, that was perfectly designed to make Him the only acceptable and eternal sacrificial lamb for our sins. Rise and fall, what happens to Jesus happens to us because He chooses to be fated together with us in camaraderie.
Thank you, Dad, for showing me the gift of helping through camaraderie; for not turning away from me, or speaking to me as though my marred DNA was different from yours, but rather standing with me, making what happened to me happen to you too.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8
Happy Good Friday and Happy Easter, everyone!