A friend and mentor I love is facing the biggest health challenge of his life. Through the tragedy, he continues to live with joyful grace. He radiates genuine warmth and displays the true and unconditional love of Christ. He chooses to rest on Romans 14:8: “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
This person has impacted hundreds, maybe thousands of people. He devoted decades of life to serving and loving others. He mentored many through their times of transition and/or difficulty, and he did not turn away from people others would have considered beyond hope. His legacy is tremendous, yet he remains humble.
He inspires me. I, too, want to leave a legacy of what matters most. Yet, I have long believed my mental health issues disqualify me from leading an impactful life. Depression robs one of the will to try for more. It cripples one’s ability to find meaning in life.
However, depression is not who I am. It is part of my life, but it is not my entire story. My experiences with mental illness have destigmatized mental disorders for me. What I once dismissed as something I could never understand I now have walked through and battled with. Now, when I am willing to be vulnerable about my struggles, I connect with other people on a deeper level. In turn, others feel safe sharing the more difficult parts of their stories with me. This mutual sharing brings mutual healing.
In this way, my mental health – especially my mental health struggles – is part of the legacy I am building. It enables me to help others in a meaningful way. My legacy will look different from the legacy my friend, but it is no less meaningful.