Have you ever noticed we post about going to work, school, Doctor, vacation…but we don’t tweet about going to a counselor (or therapist)? If you know me at all, you know I have a big-bipolar-mouth () for Christian Counseling. There is no number I give out more than the counselors’ contacts I have in my phone. As long as God gives me the ability to communicate, Christian-counseling is what I’ll be shouting. And I’m not just an advocate…I’m an avid member! I started seeing a Christian counselor when I was a kid. So truthfully, I never developed a stigma toward it because it’s all I know. At the end of the day, if we can agree that there is no shame in going to a doctor for a hurt lung or a leg, then we can agree there should be no shame in going to one for a hurt brain. And hello, it’s biblical! Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.” I hope this encourages someone today. And if you have a Christian counselor or therapist, thank them. And if you need one, email me.
I often troll the bible looking for mental-verses. One thing I’ve learned is there’s no therapy like the bible. It is the book of LIFE. It is a “double-edge sword” against thoughts of death. It is a book that–when opened–buries itself like treasure in your belly, NEVER to return void. It is the book that, when stored in your heart and uttered aloud, will make the enemy flee. It is a very powerful mental-health remedy, and it’s free and accessible to all. So I was thrilled when I came across Isaiah 61:3 that says God can give, “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” This verse tells me that God can exchange my bouts of wet-wool-blanket heaviness for his garments of praise. How? By praising Him! This sounds super-spiritual, but I’m not and I do it, so anyone can. I’ve learned praising God isn’t bound by church services or acapella voices. On a jog one morning, I passed a lady praising God while walking. Praising God is sometimes in song, sometimes at church but it’s also when we’re driving, walking, exercising, working, crying, falling asleep, waking up, writing, praying, rueing or reflecting. It’s simply giving God props in a reverent way, from wherever we are. It’s telling Him how good He is, no matter how bad we are. It’s taking our focus off our heaviness and putting it on His holiness. If you are in a spirit of heaviness, try on the garment of praise. There’s nothing to lose…and only a garment to gain. 🙂
Over the last few years, I’m thankful for the attention mental-health has received in the grass-root, governmental, medical and ministerial arenas. However, I’ve also seen the underbelly of this attention in the misuse of it among folk like you and me. Here’s the deal, mental illness is not something I would ask for or wish on anyone. Although I do my best to be a good steward with it, given the chance, I would get rid of it any day. In the many conversations I’ve had, I don’t know if everyone who says they have mental illness truly has it. And for those who self-diagnosis, I struggle with that because you haven’t gone through the proper training or licensing to be diagnosising. What I know for me, is: I was diagnosed after a thorough historical, circumstantial and psychological analysis by professionals, over a period of time. So I believe my diagnosis to be legit. But full disclosure, I also know that in my younger years, I was guilty of using mental illness as an excuse, and misusing it for attention. Shame on me, right? Trust me, I felt the full weight of taking a “thorn in my side” GOD has allowed, and abusing it for personal gain. And no sooner did I, and I confessed that junk and vowed to not do it again! It is an illness, not an excuse, not a drama-grabber and not an attention-gainer. And if God has allowed it, it is not my job to abuse it. I’ll close with an encouraging word for 3 groups of people:
>If you *think* you have mental-illness, seek Christian professional help (if you need a recommendation, email me).
>If you *know* you have mental illness, be a good steward with it (read Paul’s account of his “thorn,” 2 Corinthians 12)
>If you *don’t* have mental illness, don’t use it for personal gain, give God thanks you don’t, and say a prayer for those who do.
I hope this encourages someone today!
I got to thinking about the time when I asked Jesus into my heart. It sounds weird, anatomically impossible and too simple. But that’s how it was explained to me on the day I did. And I understood it. I was four years old and my Dad asked if I wanted Jesus to come into my heart, and I said, “YES!” But today, my wandering thoughts went to the fact that we invite Jesus into our hearts–but what that really means–is we ask him into every part of our lives. Lever 2000 is a soap that has advertised itself as a soap for “all 2000 parts.” Yea, Jesus is like that, when we invite him into our hearts, we ask him to be a part of all 2000 parts. Some of you don’t know Him this way. I can say this: Jesus is a gentleman. He stands at the door and knocks, though He holds the key. He waits for an invitation. But at the point of invite, He enters our lives, entirely, and leaves no part out. When I rededicated my life to Jesus in my late teens, I had a lot of bad parts. I had eyes that saw things I should’t have seen; a mouth that cussed; a mind that cursed my existence, and God’s. I had feet that wandered to places they had no business being. But Jesus forgives and fills every part with his grace. I hope you know Jesus. And I hope you know that no part of you is bad enough for Jesus to leave out. He loves all of you.
There’s the adage, “one day at a time.” Which–in many seasons of life–holds true. However, there are seasons where that adage is nearly impossible. We wake up and no sooner do we open our eyes and “one day at a time” is one day too many. What do we do? I’ll tell you what I’ve done. I’ve woke up, opened my eyes and honestly prayed, “God, it’s gonna be a one-hour-at-a-time day. I believe you can help me get through this day, by helping me get through the next hour.” And with that, I put my feet on the floor and I rise. If you are struggling to get through one day at a time, pray to God to get you through one hour at a time. The timing of our how-to is not nearly as important as our dependency on God to GET US THROUGH. You can do this…even if it’s one hour at time. I love Psalm 31, that so poignantly speaks to this: “Desperate, I throw myself on you: you are my God! Hour by hour I place my days in your hand, safe from the hands out to get me.” I hope this encourages someone today.
Several years ago I had a revelation: if I aim to please people, I will displease people AND God. But if I seek to please God, I will always please God! You see, God was meant to be pleased, but to please anything BUT God brings: 1) displeasure to people 2) disappointment to God 3) discouragement to ourselves. Did you know the Apostle Paul used to be a people-pleaser? In Galatians 1:10, he said, “I am not trying to please people. I want to please God. Do you think I am trying to please people? If I were doing that, I would not be a servant of Christ.” This has two implications for any people-pleasers out there! 1) Paul used to be a people pleaser, so he gets us 2) Paul no longer was a people pleaser, so there’s hope for us. When I can find an example of someone in the bible who walked through what I’m going through, I am SO encouraged! When I did research on this verse, in the KJV translation it uses the word “yet” in this verse, implying that he used to be a people pleaser, but he was no more. Before Christ, Paul pleased people. They wanted him to persecute people? He did. They wanted him to stone people? He did. They wanted him to bully people? He did. But then Paul accepted Christ. And now he was at a precipice. Because he could not serve two masters: to please man and God. So Paul chose One. He would transition from people pleaser to Jesus pleaser. If he could—that only meant one thing—we could! If you want 3 practical things I do (on a daily basis) to handle people-pleasing, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope this pleases someone today! 🙂
In 2000, after I was released from the state psych ward, I was hypersensitive to mental labels. One time, I even left a room in tears when someone stereotyped people like me as “crazy.” That was then. This is now. Words like “crazy” don’t offend me any more. Hear me, if you struggle with mental health, it is not a laughing matter. It’s serious and needs treatment. But I do take it seriously and I do receive treatment; so these days I’m at peace with lighting my hypersensitivity. In short, calling myself crazy has helped me laugh more, make conversation with others not-so-awkward, and help me help others understand mental illness better. If the world only knows words like “crazy,” then if I use “crazy” to describe myself I can make some inroads by the shared vernacular. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul said, “I am not bound to obey anyone…yet I have freely and happily become a servant of any and all so that I can win them to Christ.“ If my “crazy” talk can help connect even ONE person closer to my Savior who’s kept me sane, it’s worth it. I hope this encourages someone today.