12 Oct Day 4
Bea- Judge Not
By Corenne Smith
“Do not judge unsympathetically or hypocritically, judge not lest ye be judged.” Matthew 7:1
“The fire, it’s burning my legs! I can’t see! Help me! I need to get to my mother!” They called me out of a meeting. Bea was having a nervous breakdown.
She’s been with us five years. One of the most dependable people I know–smart, intuitive and always up for a joke. For the first couple of years I barely knew her. She remained in the background, taking care of Andrew, our 17-year-old, severely autistic boy. It takes a special person to bathe, potty, and care for a young man who can’t speak a word and is seven inches taller than you. Her love for him was ferocious, yet I took her for granted.
Like all of us, Bea has her own story. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by a woman who taught her how to love Jesus and serve others. She got married, but the relationship was abusive. She lost everything: her car, home, and worst of all, her self esteem. Then her mother died, plunging her into depression. It was during her recovery she came to work for us.
Now we were in quarantine. We invited Bea to shelter in place with us in a guest room. She was also experienced in cooking for groups. That would come in handy.
During the next few weeks, some of my favorite moments were spent in the kitchen, working alongside Bea. She’s a wise colleague—a confidant. We had each other’s back. She’d ask for prayer, and I would too. We were all working double duty. But as quarantine wore on, it was clear she was feeling stressed.
She was preparing lunch for the children when they came to get me. The strong, unflappable, practical Bea was gone. I had no idea what to do! Wrapping my arms around her chubby frame, I held her and tried to soothe her. “Who are you?” she asked in a small voice. “Corenne,” I said. “Oh, you’re one of the good ones” she said with conviction. I was relieved to hear that!
Through her fog and confusion she was able to help me find the right number for her doctor on her cell phone. Thank you, Lord. At the psychiatric hospital I had to sign paperwork saying I would be responsible for her six-week stay—in the midst of a pandemic!
And then the second guesses: Did we push her too hard? Should I not have asked her to quarantine with us? While she was away, I filled in as Andrew’s caretaker. Did I ever get a new appreciation for her labor of love, and the demands of the job!
Six weeks later we picked her up. She started back working part-time, but is now fully up to speed, and the same Bea we always knew. Bea, my dear friend, changed my view of mental illness. I thought it happened to the weak, not the strong.
Bea is strong. She knew she needed help and there was no shame. And now, she is the same confident friend I can count on, but learning to make her own boundaries. She’s part of our family. We will care for her in the same way she cares for us—and especially for Andrew. We all missed her, but boy was he glad to see her back!
Today, pray for those who struggle with mental illness, knowing we probably all have a little bit in us, it just manifests itself differently — judge not lest ye be judged.