By Bob Zoellner
Since we were created in God’s image, being mentally healthy is one of the best things we can do to express his image. That starts with being born-again, becoming a new creation, “putting on the mind of Christ” and, as Romans 12 tells us, “being transformed by the renewing of our minds.”
We were created for relationship—with God and with one another. A mental health crisis, regardless of the age of the one struggling, interrupts relationships, including with oneself. Anxiety, depression, delusional thinking, self-centeredness and even psychotic behavior can wreak havoc on having the John 10:10 abundant life Jesus wants us to enjoy.
As with any physical or mental illness, do not stop or start any medication without a physician’s consent. Seek help when needed or when a crisis has become overwhelming, especially if the desire to harm oneself or others is apparent.
Nevertheless, it is imperative to develop the skills needed to mitigate the stuff when “life happens” that leads us down the path to deteriorating mental health. Just as a carpenter needs a full toolbox and the knowledge of how to use those tools, the believer must develop the characteristics needed for when life comes at you hard.
Jesus said that “in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
God’s word gives the believer what is necessary to develop the skills to navigate life in a fallen world. Jesus said that to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind is the first and greatest commandment, and to love your neighbor as yourself is the second.
“On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets,” Jesus said (see Matthew 22:34-40).
All of the Bible boils down to these two things: how we love and commune with God and how we interact and connect with one another. Relationships are the key to remaining mentally and spiritually healthy.
Good relationships must deal with the truth when crisis hits and then allow grace for yourself and others, including forgiveness. Jesus came “full of grace and truth,” and both are necessary for healthy living.
Find trusted friends. Vent when needed. Get solid advice from multiple sources, including counselors and pastors. Develop a consistent prayer life. Know yourself better than anyone else, and learn what works for you. Practice effective coping skills.
Good mental health is worth the effort, for yourself and the people in your life. It doesn’t always come easy, but nothing worthwhile usually does.
Persevere. Do not give up. Finish the race strong.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately,” (2 Peter 1:5-8).