Our hyper-competitive, achievement-driven, materialistic culture indoctrinates us to believe that we need to sprint through life, hitting specific goals at specific times to “prove our worth.”
Those who “fall behind” or take a different path are looked upon with disdain and derision. Expectations are high. Grace is scarce. So we often fall into the trap of beating ourselves up and feeling shame for not meeting artificial timelines and standards.
This is particularly insidious for those of us whose “progress,” by society’s standards, is slowed or limited by a mental illness, emotional trauma, or addiction. Not only do we experience the social label of “not measuring up,” we are also stigmatized and ostrasized. I would characterize us as the lepers or Untouchables of American society, as evidenced by the millions of us left to fend for ourselves on the streets or locked in cages with no treatment.
But take heart. There are many good mentally healthy people and mental health professionals working on our behalf every day. And there are many of us in recovery, engaging in advocacy and peer support.
And forget how society views us. We are amongst the marginalized and ostracized to whom Jesus brought his ministry and with whom he spent most of his time. We are worthy, valuable human beings.