Something caught my attention this week.
A recent post from Dr Caroline Leaf, a Christian neuroscientist:
Mental health problems are not on the rise. Rather it is the mismanagement of mental health that is causing so many issues.
I have been spent the last few months asking the Holy Spirit to give me greater insight into this huge arena of mental health. I have been moved to tears at stories I have read, reflections on my own journey, statistics I have been studying.
We live in a world which appears to embrace labels unequivocally. Labels that connect you to having a broken brain, bi-polar, PTSD, depression, an imbalance or a disorder of some kind. And although identifying a real personal struggle is important – many of the medical/ psychological conclusions lead us to believe that the only cure is long term management and not freedom and healing. We can subtly become our label. Even as believers, we can fail to remember that our true identity does not attach itself to our emotions and mental health. Your identity In Christ is more powerful and secure than any diagnosis you receive. My own personal experience, and that of supporting the journey of others, is that when you are deep in battling for your mental and emotional health, the struggle itself can undermine and attempt to STEAL your identity. The long term answer for your freedom and healing is not in your pill. It’s in the deep renewing of your mind and rebuilding of your thoughts step by step in line with truth and who you really are.
I have faced seasons in my life where my mind has felt crippled and dark. Where I have felt desperately lonely ministering in a different culture to the one I was raised in. I’ve experienced a paralysis of fear, panic attacks, long nights of anxiety in moments in my life. I have felt the enormous weight of responsibility of pastoring churches and carrying people in my heart. I have faced seasons of shrinking back into myself because my mind tells me I am not good enough. A number of years ago I was forced to take a sabbatical because I could not face one more day of flashing red lights on my personal emotional dashboard.
And yet in every one of those challenging seasons- I have felt God’s grace carry me through. And I have learnt the power of renewing my mind at each level and have found a greater freedom each time as I worked on my thinking.
We will all struggle with some level of mental or emotional crisis in our lifetime. For some it will be deeper and protracted. Some will experience such paralysis and lack of hope they will attempt to take their life. A past that haunts them vividly and without ceasing. For others it’s a grief they cannot bear. A crushing of dreams that leave a vast vacuum. Some will battle with demons oppressing their life. For some, there will be chemical imbalances that need to be addressed and pain from the past healed. Many of you will be facing the menopausal years and that potential roller coaster emotional journey. Others will face dementia and it’s paralysing effects. For others it will come in the form of depressive cycles, a deep rooted insecurity, a feeling they have failed in life. I have two teenage boys and am acutely aware of the underlying pressures this generation faces with social media, status, insecurity and the pressure to be a SOMEBODY.
Our mental health can be layered, complex and feel out of our control. But underlying EVERY person’s struggling with mental health- we have to believe there is hope. Because there is EVERY hope. God has a personalised strategy to walk you out to a spacious place in your mind. I am in love with this scripture:
When I was fenced in, you freed me and rescued me because you love me. 2 Samuel 22:20 (CEV)
Sadly, many churches don’t know how to approach and handle the issues of mental health from a biblical standpoint. So I urge us. To embrace and love without judgement. To accept those facing battles in their inner mind. To channel the powerful love of Jesus into their lives and stand with them. To bring acceptance, to listen to their story, to avoid attempting to fix but to empower those battling mental and emotional issues with the truth that they have the tools, the truth and the supernatural power which is exceeds their natural minds to find a greater freedom as they rebuild and renew their thoughts in line with who they in Him. There may be no quick fixes. But there is a MESSAGE we have a responsibility to spread, in and outside of church, which is why I am so passionate about BEAUTIFUL MINDS. That the creator of this universe can partner with you to rebuild what has been lost, to empower you with a new level of control and help you find strength, freedom and hope in your mind.
You ARE an overcomer my friend.