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  • Writer's pictureWill Johns

Mental Health

I recently attended a convention that brought together 4,000 pastors from all over North America. It was very inspiring and fun to catch up with old friends that I hadn't seen in a long time. At the convention, they offered break out seminars on about 100 different topics. Guess which topic generated the most interest? Mental Health. You got it! I heard that they had over 1,000 pastors sign up for the class on mental health. I don't think pastors are the only ones feeling this need. The good news is that Scripture points us towards the path of mental health in one of my all time favorite passages.

Here it is, Philippians 4:6-9:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

One of the things I notice when my mental health is not good is that I can only see the negative side of life. Everywhere I look, I see something that bothers me. Something that infuriates me. Something that makes me anxious. This is not a comfortable state to live in. And I don't intentionally choose to feel this way. I don't think anyone does. However, there is a consistent path that always leads to this state of mind that Scripture is helping us avoid. When we see all the things going wrong in the world, we can quickly conclude that everything is going down the tubes! And it is that story that triggers all the negative feelings and thoughts that overwhelm us. If you really get stuck in the negative story, don't be afraid to seek professional help. You know you need it when you are unable to see anything hopeful or good in your life.

Philippians 4 gives us an alternate approach to the negative story. In this approach, we acknowledge the pain in the world all around us. We admit what is wrong in the world. We feel the sadness, anger and fear. And then we let it go and intentionally focus on what is good. We tell ourselves a very different narrative. We say, yes, the world is full of problems, but it is also full of beauty and wonder and love. There is still good in the world. God is at work in my heart and in my life. And as long as I have breath, I will work to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. If I give in to despair, then I am adding to the pain in the world. If I can stay focused on "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable" then I am adding to the good in the world. And I'm on the path towards mental health.

It may feel like you aren't caring about the pain of others when you focus on what is good. Nothing could be further from the truth. By focusing on the good, you are giving yourself the best chance to bring healing to the world. I would invite you this week to let God heal your mind and soul. Focus on all the gifts God has poured into your life. Be grateful. Then look for ways to serve others. All of this will lead you towards mental health.

May you experience the joy of a grateful and sound mind this week.

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