God transformed my mental health - Part I
And He can transform yours too + Scripture to stand on during hard times
Life's journey is filled with both mountains and valleys, and for many of us, the valleys include battles with our mental health. Mental health struggles are more common than we might realize. Approximately one in five adults faces these challenges each year, with this number rising alarmingly.
From the weight of depression to the grip of anxiety, mental health issues can touch the lives of those around us, even if we don't always see it. It may be so intricately woven into our daily lives that we shrug it off as "life" and go about the day's struggles.
As a woman, a wife, a toddler mom and an underpaid teacher, I have definitely had my fair share of challenges. Defeat, mental exhaustion, loneliness, doubt, worry, brain fog, lack of discipline, PTSD, depression. I've had times when I was strong and other times where I gave up on myself, on others and on God. I could be drifting one day, and tightly anchored the next.
It made me realize why the Lord calls his people to be on solid ground, like a tree planted along streams of endless water, never bending or breaking. Why we need a "Do not be afraid" verse in scripture for every day of the year. Why He does not fail to remind us that we should fix our eyes and desires on the things of heaven, not of earth.
Our emotions, feelings and thoughts are like a rollercoaster.
As someone who was navigating such challenging terrains, especially in marriage and motherhood, I began to understand the profound impact that faith, community and surrender can have on reshaping our mental well-being. I hope that my reflections on how God transformed my mentality and thought patterns can make a life changing impact on you as well. It is a story of God doing what only He can do.
Prioritizing Mental Wellness
It took me a VERY long time to be convinced of this: I CANNOT pour from an empty cup. We can only give so much of ourselves before being completely burnt out, unproductive and even a bit resentful if we do not fuel up daily on the needs of our body, mind and soul. There is a limit to how many messes we clean up, meeting we attend, time we spend cheerfully with our spouse, complaints we hear, hours we commute, arguments we can engage in, events we agree to and small groups we lead before we are drained.
So, we finish the day and get the physical rest we need, but ignore any other ways we require replenishment.
Just like we take care of our bodies, tending to our mental health is essential. It's not just about feeling good; it's about having the strength to navigate life's twists and turns. Just as we recharge our phones, we need to recharge our minds. Whether it means sharing your day's battles with friends or family, reading motivational books, making some time to be alone, seeing a therapist, unburdening to your pastor, doing a gut detox, binging a good tv show or having a date night without kids, there are many ways to give your mind a break and reset.
However, the only way to give your mind, body and soul true rest, restoration and renewal is through spending time with the Lord. Prayer, worship, scripture memorization, praise, and a casting of all your cares on Him.
How the Lord shifted my mindset
Stopping the lies and arming me with weapons of warfare
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
"Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8
"LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure." Psalms 16:5
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12
I remember sitting down on my bed one morning, and trying to put my finger on what exactly I was feeling. As Pastor Craig says in his book "Winning the War in your mind", I asked myself "probing" questions. What were the difficulties I was facing? Where did they stem from: did I have any past traumas associated with these, was it from current frustration, helplessness, exhaustion? Was I being effected mentally due to work, family members, my environment, finances, health, lack of control or my own negative thinking?
God then led me to think deeper. What did I think about as soon as I woke up, in the afternoon and just before I called it a day? How was my mind reacting or even preparing for every thing I was facing? Was I expecting the worst even before anything happened? Did I open my eyes every morning and go into battle mode? Was I resentful for everything going wrong in my life, or thankful for what I had?
Was I giving life and personality to my negative thoughts? Or even causing them to happen with my words?
This was a tough pill to swallow. I noted these down, then began to read His word on all of this. I meditated and pondered and sometimes even dismissed scripture about humility, surrender, control, the power of the tongue, womanhood, marriage, patience, respect, motherhood.
It was in the midst of my search, that God in His mercy for me, showed me the reality of what I was facing:
I was not in a natural war, supernatural one. And it is one that everyone is fighting - I am not alone in this.
It hit me that I didn't even realize we have a spiritual enemy. An enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy. An enemy that pits man against man, husband against wife, presents lies as truth, allows worry to gnaw at our insides, causes sin to form and fester, causes rampant doubt against God, anxiety, anger, lust and greed take over. Worst of all, he delights in the destruction and death he leaves in his wake.
I began to recognize more and more that every thought, word and action I take could either be made in spirit and in truth, in obedience to God's Word, or would propagate lies, bitterness, unkindness, pain and sin. It could cause a cycle of destruction, could keep my life stagnant and hinder the best God had for me, and could be observed and followed by my son and generations to come. I immediately stopped underestimating both my enemy and the power of my sovereign God to break every chain and complete a good work in me just as He began it.
The Lord showed me that all I needed was one weapon to overcome everything in my life: His Word, spoken back to Him to combat every lie of the deceiver.
"Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it." Jeremiah 1:12
"For no word from God shall be void of power." Luke 1:37
Complain and Remain
I once heard a speaker ask, “If the Lord inhabits our praises, who inhabits our complaints??”. OUCH. Joyce Meyer explains it like this: “Complain and remain, Praise and be raised."
This changed my emotional and mental states like nothing else.
The word ‘inhabit’ means to ‘dwell as in one’s abode’. The Lord lives within us as His holy temple. He was, is and always will be in the presence of His people, according to His promises. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He loves us, not because of how much or often we worship Him but because we do so in “spirit and in truth”.
However, the Lord is the holiest of holies. He IS truth and light and life. So if we choose to use the power of our tongues to speak death instead of life, complaints over gratitude, criticism instead of encouragement, lies or rumors over truth and lack instead of abundance, we are removing ourselves from who He is. We are saying that what He has given us is not good enough. We are disobeying and disbelieving the Word, walking down a dark path of our own making, away from His brilliant light. This is the “power of life and death” our tongue holds, and the Lord is only Life. Positivity. Love. Hope. Abundance. Provision.
When I realized how easily complaints could slip out of my mouth, I resolved to changing each one to a quick prayer of thanks. I stopped getting upset at piles of dirty dishes, dirty clothes, having no help when I needed it, a lack of time to myself, financial situations, and even took negative thought patterns captive. I ceased imagining worst case scenarios, expecting things to go wrong or thinking unkind things against other’s behaviors.
My Lord became my cup and my portion. I thank the Lord for the messes my healthy, active son is making. I praise Him for providing me a house I get to vacuum and clothes I get to wash. When I see a dwindling bank account, I am grateful that He has never let me down in the past and won’t now. If I complain about a health issue, I thank Him for how strong and able-bodied I am.
The difference between this kind of constant complaining and bringing my frustrations to the Lord is when we complain more as habit and when we actually have no reason to do so.
"Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain." Philippians 2:14-16
Living for Man
“Am I trying to win the approval of men, or God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” Galatians 1:10
This scripture pains me and gives me joy all at once. It hurts me as I think of time wasted and tears shed trying to please someone else. To please humans who just cannot be satisfied.
It simultaneously brings me joy as the Lord broke those chains and released me to live according to His promises. To know I am free, loved, and to be cherished and respected like the daughter of a King. When I once would be brought low and made weak because of criticism or cruelly flung words, I am now strengthened in the midst of them.
I know now that I can do my best to serve others cheerfully and humbly as my God asks me to, but that their reception and reaction to my labor of love is not up to me. It is not a reflection of how much or how little I may have done, but perhaps some expectation on their part I may not have ever been able to meet. It is perhaps some issue of the heart that individual will need to work on.
The Lord opened my eyes to how unnecessary this burden was that I stubbornly carried. As soon as I let Him do so, He uplifted me and took on these burdens as I cast my care on Him. He worked on my confidence, sense of worth and value. Notice, I did not say SELF confidence or worth. Instead, I see myself through God’s eyes - so I understand my GOD confidence and GOD worth.
Have you faced any of these struggles? Is the Lord working on your mental health right now? Feel free to share, encourage others on their journey, and your thoughts on this post in the comment section below <3
Follow along in Part II for more!!