Updated: Jun 29, 2022
When I think of a being that is perfect, eternal, and ever-present, I think of God.
Am I able to think about these supernatural things because I was once face-to-face with them, somehow? I'd go to the book of Genesis to answer this question and I wish I had a simple answer to it, but this is more of a rhetorical question.
We're able to think about perfection, eternity, and omnipresence because we're designed to experience these things with God.
I believe in God because He is true. A very simplistic way of thinking about truth is to think about how useful something is for one and many others.
I believe that I was created to be an image-bearer of God. Admittedly, the brokenness in myself and the world has gotten in the way at times.
"We're only the lightbulbs …, and our job is just to remain screwed in."
I've been labeled as caring, bipolar, smart, perfectionistic, disciplined, calm, and so on. But I'm unlearning to identify as these and learning to identify more as a believer and image-bearer of God. This process of unlearning and rightly identifying myself is where mental health comes in, to allow me to experience God more.
In honor of May being the Mental Health Awareness Month, let us dive right in.
Your Life, Your Mental Health
Mental health can be highly personalized.
Nowadays, it's becoming more common to take a mental health day from work. The reasons for taking one of these can range from wanting to treat yourself to a spa day for some stress relief to feeling totally dysfunctional with serious thoughts of not wanting to live anymore.
We find freedom when we don't blame others for our mental health challenges and start taking responsibility to heal. There's power in realizing that it's not my fault that I'm broken, and that I'm a leader of my healing process.
Without mental health, we could have outstanding physical health and still feel miserable, like life is not worth living.
I can tell from my experience as a clinician and as a person diagnosed with a mental illness that good mental health generally involves:
Having the ability to enjoy naturally pleasurable things (in a healthy amount)
Thinking in a goal-directed, logical way when needed
Maintaining meaningful relationships
Setting mindful boundaries with ourselves and others
Coping with stress in ways that promote overall wellness
Having self-awareness of strengths and areas to develop
This is not a personalized list, so I encourage you to think about how some of these would uniquely manifest in your life.
So, Why Do You Believe in God?
Deciding to believe in God is completely up to the person.
When we believe in God, we never enter the battlefield of the mind alone. We don't rely on our own strength to dismantle lies, self-limiting beliefs, and toxic patterns. We turn to our creator and unshakeable source of hope.
The guilt and shame I felt after my first serious, somewhat dysfunctional adult relationship was too big for me to bear alone. The accumulation of this and other debilitating experiences brought me to my knees and made me realize that I needed a savior, so I rededicated my life to God.
In his book on trauma The Body Keeps the Score, psychiatrist doctor Bessel Van Der Kolk states:
"Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives... For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety."
In other words, connection with a safe haven is probably the biggest component of mental health.
Because I have a strong desire to meet God (my safe haven), I focus on managing my mental health. God doesn't leave me hanging because when I meet Him, He manages to improve my mental health to allow me to go deeper in that glorious presence.
Take Home Message
The world can feel intolerably unsafe sometimes.
Lacking a safe haven impacts our mental health, and without mental health the loving connection to ourselves, others, our purpose, and God deteriorates.
We want to experience perfection by avoiding unmet expectations.
We want to experience eternity by trying to stay young.
We want to experience omnipresence after we feel the pain of loss.
Whether we recognize or not, we're wired to experience God's perfection, eternity, omnipresence. Nonetheless, having faith in God is a personal choice.
When we put in the work for better mental health, the result is a better life with more sensitivity to God. Now you know more of what mental health involves. I invite you to see how it could point you to your safe haven.
Wishing you all the best in your journey of discovery,