Making This A Matter of The Heart

PAPAS: Making this a matter of the heart

By Rev. Paul N. Papas II

Fri Feb 06, 2009, 04:48 PM EST

This time of year we are seeing red, hearts, flowers, and a lot of chocolate. Pictures of happy lovers encourage us to remember a gift for Valentine’s Day. Christmas barely ended before merchants brought out the Valentine’s Day displays.

Sometimes flowers and chocolates say I’m sorry, sometimes it’s just because I love you.

Whether it’s a marriage or other relationship, work is involved. Beyond the initial attraction, it takes time to learn about each other. The long-term relationships and marriages have learned how to grow together and stick together through the tough times.

There have been a number of movies released by Hollywood over the past years that depict angry, hurtful, abusive, and vicious relationships or break ups. I remember a song that gave us 50 ways to leave your lover. The culture of the ’60s would have us believe that if we couldn’t be with the one we loved, then we should love the one we are with. What a train wreck for relationships all that turned out to be!

The whole idea of relationships, especially marriages is to choose to be with someone because you desire to grow closer together, support each other, and build each other up in good and bad times.

We recently saw a movie called “Fireproof,” a story about a long-term marriage that got derailed and restored. The couple had many real life issues, not unlike many in today’s society. As the story progressed we saw how they lived and worked through their issues to build a stronger bond than they had before.

Depression, frustration, and anger were some of obstacles that the couple overcame. Part of the story is how they overcame the mountains that faced them. Many people would have given up. I am not a movie critic, however, I think this is a refreshing change for a film.

I always look at how people are treated or depicted. For example a recent comedy routine, enjoyed by most of the audience, portrayed a homeless man who had mental health issues in a negative light. Until people truly understand and stop the stigma, then routines like this will be seen as hilarious. This homeless man with mental health issues has the same basic needs as someone living in the upper end of town; he just has a few more obstacles.

There are true “rags to riches” testimonies, people who have overcome obstacles to reach great heights. I have read many books and met people who have become successful despite their mental and other physical obstacles. Time and space do not permit me to name them all. I received one book at Christmas called “Breakfast at Sally’s.” It is one homeless man’s inspirational journey by Richard LeMieux. The language may be a little rough for some; however it may open other’s eyes. The book “refutes the stereotypes that the general public has about the homeless population.”

In these economic times there are many who are just one paycheck away from homelessness. Not all homeless people have a medical condition of a mental illness. Not all people with a medical condition of a mental illness are homeless. Sometimes the two issues overlap.

Another man who has overcome many struggles is Kurt Warner, quarterback for the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals. He went from stocking shelves to bringing two different teams to the Super Bowl and being a Super Bowl MVP.

If you are willing to do the work, with a little help you can overcome your obstacles.

Perhaps you could help someone overcome their obstacles.

Focus on what you can do for yourself and others, then you will be the giver of sweet smelling flowers this Valentine’s Day, receiving much more in return.

The Rev Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (located in Massachusetts and Arizona), founder of the Family Renewal Center and current president of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Framingham.,,


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