Recently, I was asked to speak at church as part of a group presenting a Mental Health Awareness program. There is much that I have to say on this broad topic, but for now here are a few thoughts in my creative style.
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s
men couldn’t put Humpty together again.”
I do suppose that it is entirely possible, though highly unlikely, that I might not be the very first person to explore the following theory regarding this popular English nursery rhyme, written in 1797.
I can say this because I’ve come to know more than just a little bit about Humpty Dumpty. It seems as if I’ve known him forever, and, indeed, others like him as well. So, as a famous radio announcer used to say on his program, “Here, is the rest of the story”, behind this brief rhyme.
According to Humpty Dumpty’s family history, which I have personally researched extensively, there is conclusive evidence that a pattern of mental health issues plagued the Dumpty family tree. Humpty was not spared from the afflictions common to his line of descendants.
The case I present to you today is that Humpty was already broken before that fateful day at the wall. I’d be willing to bet that no one present, here, knows what was going through Humpty’s mind as he sat upon the now infamous wall. If you asked Humpty to describe himself, he would surely respond, “Where do I begin?” Certainly, he would say, “I have been as a broken vessel for many years.” The Dumpty family was a wonderful, beautiful family, yet terribly misunderstood throughout the ages. In the kingdom, Humpty, himself, was well known. He was, by all accounts, a respected gentleman, even a gentle man, an accomplished scholar, and also an elite athlete. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men knew Humpty Dumpty, or so they thought. One of Humpty’s few life-long friends had once shared this statement about the harsh reality of living in the kingdom. “There are two types of people, Humpty. Those who are unaware and those who don’t care.” That sounded a little harsh, but true to much of Humpty Dumpty’s experience, life was challenging, unfair, and cruel, and so were people.
Because he struggled with depression, anxiety, and Bi-polar Disorder, Humpty never achieved the great expectations the world seemed to demand of him. Based upon his society’s high standards, he was deemed an abject failure. Though genuinely perceived as a nice guy by the king’s horses and the king’s men, they never treated Humpty the same again. He’d heard the talk, “That Dumpty is just like his old man and his grandpa! He’s unmotivated, lazy, and another in a long line of Dumpty family underachievers.” How could they not know of my struggles, Humpty wondered? He’d tried to explain himself to a few, but his brave attempts only served to make him feel more of an outsider in the kingdom.
Over time, Humpty Dumpty began to believe that he wasn’t good enough. He lamented the many lost opportunities, the dreams that would never be realized, and “the songs that he would not sing” in this life. His journey had been paved with one disappointment after another. With each setback, he became more tired, more drained, more depressed, and more confused.
A future that was once surely destined to shine so brightly, was now covered in a veil of darkness. With endless pain and misery as his companions, Humpty, for all intents and purposes, disappeared. He retreated from as much interaction as possible with others in the kingdom. Feeling further marginalized by his own people, devalued by those who once looked at him differently, Humpty now languished in a mental fantasy land forged with fear and filled with frustration. Had a fruitless life run its course?
Now, I suppose that you think you’ve got the rest of this story figured out. Think again.
Humpty Dumpty sought the sweet serenity of seclusion in the most beautiful parts of the kingdom. He loved the outdoors. He was in awe of God’s creations. Though societal pressures and responsibilities brought on panic attacks and prolonged bouts of depression, nature, itself seemed to breathe new life into him.
Humpty also enjoyed listening to music. Somehow, it made him feel better. I’m sure you are familiar with a few words from one of his favorite songs. “When I am down and all my soul’s so weary; when troubles come and my heart burdened be; then I am still and wait here in the silence, until you come and sit awhile with me.”
And so, he waited. Humpty pondered what it means to “wait upon the Lord”. He learned, in the scriptures, the word “wait” means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end. Humpty learned to adjust this last principle to his circumstances. He referred to it as “enduring to the end of each day”!
Humpty reasoned that each day he’d simply do the best he possibly could. How could he expect more of himself? He also learned that “waiting upon the Lord” means praying unceasingly. It means planting the seed of faith and nourishing it with great diligence. Waiting means to stand fast. It means “relying alone upon the merits of Christ” and with His grace assisting, saying “Thy will be done, O Lord, not mine.”
Humpty believed that “waiting upon the Lord” was the one sure way that he “would one day rest from all his afflictions.” He realized that he must heed the promptings to seek for the eternal. The remedies of the world, alone, were not sufficient. Medication, yes. Humpty relied on it. The visits to his counselor, those helped, he had to admit. But, his soul longed for something more.
Humpty had a mission. He desired to receive more revelation. He wanted to stand in holier places. He wanted to climb to the highest point in the kingdom. It was there, he was convinced, that more answers would come, more inspiration would flow. It was there, upon that wall, Humpty Dumpty trusted that he would find the peace and healing he was so desperately seeking.
So, Humpty exercised. Yes, literally, physically exercised. He wasn’t quite sure why, but it too made him feel better, somehow. But, more importantly, he was exercising faith in Jesus Christ. He was preparing to go to the wall.
And he did…many times. High atop the wall, Humpty would meditate, pray, and read the scriptures. He was drawn to this place like nowhere else. He felt closer to his Heavenly Father. There, far removed from the cares of the everyday hustle and bustle of life down below, he was blessed with that peace which passeth all understanding.
How many times in his life had Humpty cried out, “O, God, where art Thou?” In his darkest moments, he’d always found his greatest comfort in God’s sovereign care. “Where shall I go from your spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? How precious to me are your thoughts, O, God! How vast is the sum of them.”
Humpty had found the answer to his humble prayer. He knew that the Lord compensates the faithful for every loss or lost opportunity. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. The faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.
On that day, forever etched in history by a tumble and the frantic efforts of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, all was not as it seemed. For goodness sakes, Humpty Dumpty did not jump. Dear Humpty had learned the value of humor for one, as himself, afflicted with a mental health disorder. The simple truth is that he cracked himself up laughing as he recalled comical events of that very morning. He was finally healed. He was at peace, even if he was now in pieces.
May we be as hopeful and as faithful as Humpty, and learn to wait upon the Lord in our own trials is my prayer. In the most sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.