28/08/2018

How Healthy is Your Mind?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:16 pm by The Water Bearer

I often wonder why some people aren’t as concerned about their mental health as others. It seems to me in this current age of high stress and constant busyness, more of us would be vigilant at ensuring the healthy condition of our minds.

I’ve seen too many people out there wondering why they are trapped in an unhealthy and unhappy life, who avoid assessing their mental health for fear of the stigma attached. I was one of those myself until my car accident forced me to take a closer look at the way my mind works and why.

That old saying comes to mind “Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness.” I actually believe the opposite is true. If we don’t ask ourselves questions we believe the first thing that comes to mind and stay the same without growth or reaching our potential.

Over the past decade or so I have noticed people tend to fall into one of the following three common categories when it comes to mind health. I wonder if you recognise these traits?

Group 1 – IGNORE their Mental Health

This category contains those who take no time to be curious about the motives of their hearts. They don’t ask “why did I do that or say that?” even if they are abusive and dysfunctional, because they seem to believe the first excuse that comes to mind. They choose not to investigate the condition of their emotional health. They never ask themselves “what is the universe or God trying to purge from the selfish core of my soul?” They ignore or deny the feedback they receive from the social cues of the world. Rather than wondering how they can change themselves to adapt to their world, they waste copious amounts of effort and emotion on fighting against it. I’ve come to notice the fear that controls this group. They are afraid of facing their flaws, everyone else is the problem, even God’s plan is wrong (in some way or another). They often hate silence and can’t stand to be still or alone. They are likely to fight against a sleepless night rather than accept the words of that still small voice within.

Category 2 – BLAME their Mental Health

This group are the ones who know that life is unfair and yet use it to their own reward. Having a diagnosis of mental health, physical pain or grief often becomes a label used to avoid getting healthy and happy. Its far easier to get sympathy and sidestep the difficult challenges and responsibility of getting back on track after each trial. This group self-sabotage, finding excuses to stay miserable, usually thriving on drama and stress and become addicted to contributing negativity to the world. Blaming the reality of life and God for their discontent comes naturally, rather than seeking to discover the hope, growth and fortitude that is born from trials. They may ask for help and yet follow none of the advice given. I’ve noticed the bitterness that drives this group. It is deep seated and poisonous to their souls and ours if we stay around them too long.

You may know someone who fits into one or both of the above categories, you may even be one yourself, I wouldn’t be surprised. I have been there too….. In fact they’re easy to waver in and out from time to time.

It takes wisdom to see that giving sympathy and attention as rewards is actually enabling these groups to stay miserable. Yet our culture has somehow forgotten how to voice the truth with tact and honesty, and so we choose not to say anything at all, while our loved ones stay trapped in their misery.

And yet let’s not lose all hope, for we still have the third group to go. These people are actually more common than we might think, they just don’t broadcast their self-care.

Category 3 – NURTURE their Mental Health

This group of people understand the difficulties of life, they take the hits, go through moments of weakness and low periods. Some have been diagnosed with a mental illness, some have not. The things they have in common are self-awareness, self-responsibility, and trust. They make no excuses for their mistakes and struggles, they focus on the lessons. They accept the dark times as opportunities to see the light again one day. Faith gives them hope and courage to push on. They direct their efforts to caring for and protecting their mental health by setting up certain guidelines to follow that won’t lead them into a pit of self-pity. They practice letting go of control and being grateful, they practice being still and appreciate silence. They aim for a good sleeping routine and have very few unhealthy indulgences. They choose wisely who they spend time with. They pay attention to their own emotional stability and listen to sound advice in order to arrange themselves in a way that steers their course closer to the person they hope to be. They are committed to learning the truth about themselves, and the impact they can have on those they come into contact with. They are humble enough to admit when they are wrong and assertive enough to stand up for their truth.

As I look out into the faces of Sanctuary Stretch clients I see these qualities being nurtured. Some have only just begun their journey and others are well and truly reaping the benefits after committing to the practice.

Perhaps like me, you realise you are ready to change groups? I did it, and you can too.

 

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10/08/2018

Giving The Devil His Dues

Posted in Finding Faith, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:24 pm by The Water Bearer


We’ve believed for too long that evil lingers only in the shadows of the world and in wicked people, when the truth is far more difficult to accept.

My favourite quote from my favourite movie, The Italian Job, goes like this,

“I trust everyone, I just don’t trust the devil inside them” – Donald Sutherland.

This is my absolute favourite quote because it sums up so simply the hidden location of the enemy of God. A fact I’ve been intent on exposing ever since I can remember.

Whether we have figured it out yet or not, everyone has elements of divine righteousness within the fabric of their being, at the same time, everyone has elements of the exact opposite. Its in facing these elements within ourselves that we discover the problem with the world and the source of the solution. We can then direct the focus of our efforts in faith to the frontline of the war, instead of losing the war to ignorance and going about business as usual.

No longer can we sit by and point our finger out into the world, at the media, the terrorists, the dictators and the criminals and say “That’s the Devil”. It’s far too easy, and quite frankly its a cop out. Yes there is evil ‘out there’ but it’s in here too. Ignoring it, having a tantrum or complaining about it isn’t going to change the state of reality.

We live in a fallen world, and yes the enemy is doing everything he can to steer us into destruction, but since when have you been able to change the state of the entire world? So, why would God give us promises throughout the whole of scripture that we can overcome the enemy, if evil’s ‘out there’ and uncontrollable? Why would there be scripture’s reminding us that we can use the weapons available to us found in the Word to stand in victory and righteousness, if we are simply forced to be neighbours with ‘evil’ for our entire lives?

Fair enough, for those who haven’t found the gems of truth in the Word, I guess its easy to say “Its all a load of rot” and be done with it and go back to feeling helpless in an evil world.

However for those who have really experienced the amazing truth that God is trustworthy to fulfil His Word, then we have to stop passing the buck of evil onto others and finally give the devil his dues.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT) 

That urge to control others instead of yourself, that’s him. That desire to decide for yourself what you would do if you were God, him again! That decision based entirely on selfish motives, that’s him too. The idea that we can pretty up our outsides with rituals and religiosity to be seen as righteous, that is his allure. That whisper of bitterness that focuses on the faults in others instead of asking what our role in the saga might have been, that’s got his name all over it. That fear that tells you you’re not worthy, or the arrogance that tells you you’re worth more than others, that’s his calling card. And the presumption of knowing enough scripture to then condemn and manipulate others, that is his ace card.

Scripture is the scalpel, it will reveal the hidden intentions of your heart and mine, but it is a deeply private affair. Facing up to our motives takes more courage than I can muster. The awareness of my own inner enemies is what keeps me thirsting for truth, grace and strength at the feet of my Saviour. In spite of the evil within, I can think of no better place to be.

 

 

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