By Nancy Virden (c)2021
I’ve never wanted to suggest that saying a prayer, memorizing scripture, reading the Bible for hours, or singing worship songs are the “cures” for challenges to our mental health. It is not that simple.
The word cure usually implies a permanent fix, an end to the struggle. However, life is full of struggles and by default no freedom from them is permanent. So often we can insist people get over pain and suffering quickly. Perhaps this is most noticeable in reactions to a mental health challenge or disorder.
I was very hard on myself when depression did not lift right away. It took a few months to realize my need to take it slow. The false idea that those activities mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog were supposed to make me happy added to my frustration. Physically, there was not enough energy to perform religious disciplines. Emotionally, I felt nothing but pain. Depression messed with my thinking and perceptions, not my faith.
For years, small steps and lightweight epiphanies exchanged places with huge changes and leaps of insight, then back again. This was the process of growth. Changing one’s worldview after fifty -plus years is not a quick task. Eventually, joy sprouted in my heart simultaneously with the return of enough energy and emotional stamina to put the past behind me and to fulfill a sense of purpose.
“The truth will set you free” is one of the most frequently misused quotes of Jesus. He actually said, (1) “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. (2) Then you will know the truth and (3) the truth will set you free.” Keith Thibodeaux who played Little Ricky in the I Love Lucy show, speaks of this. He says, “The more of the Word of God that I put in me, the less I heard of those [harmful inner] voices, and the more I began to hold on to the truth of Jesus.”
Yes, that is how absorbing the truth works. Our mental health is not dependent on how much we read the Bible or pray. Where did Keith say he put the Word of God? IN. Inside. Not as memorized or huge quantities of reading material, but as life changing truth.
I’m a fan of medical and psychological treatment for supporting mental health. Without those I would be stuck in a false belief system that nearly killed me, victim to negative self-talk. Perhaps a mood disorder would still defeat my hope. While vital insights came through therapists, it was the Word of God already in me that ultimately separated truth from error.
Confusion, doubts, and pain respond to truth. The more you hold to the teaching of Jesus, being a true disciple of him, the more you will know His truth that sets you free.
Today’s Helpful Word
To [those] who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
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Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
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