Rick Warren’s daughter recently spoke about the struggles of mental illness at Saddleback Church’s second annual Gathering on Mental Health and the Church.
The Christian Examiner reports that Amy Hilliker, the oldest child of Rick and Kay Warren, spoke at the conference held at the church where he father is a pastor, and shared her family’s struggle with mental illness.
The Warren’s youngest son, Matthew, took his own life in 2013 after a long battle with mental illness. The Warrens launched the Gathering on Mental Health and the Church to open the doors of communication about mental illness within the church body, a place where the issue of mental illness is not often addressed.
Hilliker spoke about her brother’s struggle. "Early on I had an idea that Matthew was different in some vulnerable way," she said. "My protective nature kicked in early and, in my own way, I joined my parents in rallying around our weakest link."
Hilliker went on to discuss the toll Matthew’s struggle with mental illness had on herself and her family, as well as the struggle she faced with her own anxiety and panic attacks, brought on by chronic Lymes Disease.
Hilliker said that, during these struggles, she felt like her family was “living in this underground bunker.”
“We were here existing on planet Earth but not really engaging with the real world or real people,” she continued.. “We would occasionally lift that hatch and look out long enough and survey the land. Then the next wave of chaos would hit and we'd have to hunker down and hold onto each other and pray to make it through."
Hilliker said she eventually realized that she could not save her brother, but was called simply to listen to his struggles and “love him where he was at.”
She urged conference attendees to do the same when seeking to help someone struggling with mental illness.
"I wish we knew then the kind of things we know now," Hilliker said. "But for those of us who know Jesus, pain births beauty. The story is not even close to being over yet. Because God is making every hard and ugly and painful thing that I endured, that our family endured, work for good in our lives and the lives of others. The hope is, the Bible tells us, that this work will not end, until God has extracted every teeny, tiny morsel of good out of that pain. He will not let up until this work is finished."
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
Publication date: October 12, 2015
Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the outdoors, or reading, she can be found mostly in Richmond, VA writing primarily about nature, nostalgia, faith, family, and Jane Austen.