Stigma is like a dirty word to most of us. We would not think of stigmatizing people with mental health problems or people with other disabilities. We don’t want to harm them, but try to follow Jesus by treating them with kindness. We want to help them find healing.

And yet, it’s in that very goodness that stigma sometimes grows. Individuals want to be kind, and in the process don’t treat people with mental health issues as they would others. They are afraid to set boundaries—again, simply because they care so much and because they consider these people to be “needy.” The result is pain, right across the board. The person who cared becomes overwhelmed with the sick person’s needs and inadvertently begins to hurt her. Pain upon pain upon pain.

There are other ways we unintentionally stigmatize people. We patronize them, in essence telling them, “We know what you need. We can help you improve your life.” They’re made to feel inferior.

Though each of us is different—we should treat all people with the equal worth God has given us.

The best you can do for a person is not the “caring for” but “feeling compassion with.” It’s drawing together in the pain, in the presence of God.