Mental Health and God

There is one subject I don't know if I will ever understand the fullness of, though it feels like I have been chasing understanding within its depths for all of my life. The very sea that feels endless and uncertain is mental health.

It seems so complex to even begin to dive into for myself, let alone for several other people.

To be honest, I am not sure why I dive into the very chasms that scare me the most, but I continually put my hand over my eyes, take a deep breath, and let the wind push me to take the biggest leaps of my life. By God's Spirit, He maneuvers my being to dive into the perfect place where I avoid the deathly rocks and surging waves. Once under water, following small intuitions and by asking lots of questions in the searching, He gives me a key to unlock about myself and others, every time.

I gasp for air, and so do the ones who are with me in the process.

Jumping, diving, and searching with Him is the only way that I can even begin to venture into the depths of mental health.

In about 5 months, I will be setting off to pursue a career in helping detangle and find the light within people's souls (mind, will, and emotions), bodies (physical beings), and spirits (the God breathed spirit inside of them; the very thing that exists outside of time).

The journey I will go on is terrifying and exhilarating, similar to the emotions I have about the sea of mental health.

I think most of us would say the same when talking about the complexities of the soul, the body, and the spirit. Comparable to the triune God head working together with all mystery and character intertwined but also separate from each other, God made us similarly with our souls, bodies, and spirits. Each has it own set of characteristics, definitions and abilities, yet each simultaneously affect each other and are working together to give the human being life.

Unlike the Godhead, which is perfect, sovereign, and omnipotent, our souls, bodies, and spirits are limited in knowledge, ability, and perfection; even with God's help and especially without God's help.

He is the true source of life for each of these parts of us.

With this truth, it is conclusive to say that when one part of us is suffering, other parts of us suffer as well. Thus, if the mind is facing hardship, it is only natural that the body and spirit will have a difficult time finding freedom as well. If our emotions are not stable, our minds, bodies, and spirits are apt to also experience instability.

A journey with God isn't truly complete, I believe, without also letting Him into the depths of our souls. I believe too often the Church unknowingly tries to heal the wounds of the soul (the mind, will, and emotions) with it's knowledge of the Spirit which is the conscience, connection with the Holy Spirit, and our intuitions (Dealing with Our Inward Parts for the Growth in Life, Lee).

I have even tried to do this in my own ministry to people and have probably hurt them and myself in the process. But what if the Lord is desiring to heal deep places within the soul that need strategic care so that the spirit can experience true freedom?

This is why I believe looking at mental health, venturing to dive into the sea of unknown is essential for a person to live fully alive. This is why I also believe that leaders within the Church should continue to partner with mental health professionals and seek advice from them on how to structure their spiritual formation ministries, youth ministries, and other ways spiritual leaders are meeting one on one with people. There are many people carrying deep darkness within places that may not be as readily visible to someone who isn't trained to see soul wounds clearly or to help in a way that is safe for both parties.

Thank you Jesus that mental health awareness and research is on the rise!

I believe that in specific soul care, the Lord allows a trained individual to catch temporary glimpses into what may be lacking within the mind, the emotions, and also within the body and the spirit. Only He gives the power, because each person's story and life is so so different than another person’s story and life trajectory.
 
Also, mental health hardships can’t necessarily be seen with the physical eyes. In fact, many people don't talk about their experiences with anxiety and depression, addictions, and disorders, especially if they are experiencing them in the moment. Many don’t even know that they are suffering. Thus, it takes time, education, and intentional care to shepherd someone who is experiencing things such as depression, anxiety, clinical disorders, addictions, etc.

I think it’s important to address that as humans, all of us go through hardship and will experience grief, hopelessness, worry, and stress. Most of us will experience seasons of anxiety and depression, and addictions at varying levels as well. However, there are those who have chronic patters and more serious symptoms that translate to chemical imbalances in the brain that are separate from general feelings of sadness, worry, or generalized coping mechanisms.

Sometimes the Lord lifts the pressure, the valley, or whatever an individual in a moment. Sometimes He asks the person to simply come back to Him and hide under His wings for a while. Other times, He asks the person to seek further guidance professionally for something where the plague is prolonged and deep.

In order to properly help someone through their suffering, seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit and trusted individuals on getting professional help is crucial. Professionals can determine the severity of the issue and how to properly give it space to heal.
 
As God's Spirit moves within care from professionals, often the spirit and the body become free as well. Many times people who suffer from an array of imbalances within the mind and emotions for prolonged amounts of time have been told to pray, to worship, or to spend more time with God or in community. Sometimes, individuals who are living under a cloud of condemnation or are battling through thoughts of suicide struggle to find connection to God in those moments. The same is true for someone who is experiencing a panic attack. God’s presence and community feel like another mountain to climb.

Let me be clear, He is always near to each of His own, but sometimes the spiraling feels like something that is too difficult to get out of without an intervening miracle each time that the suffering persists. God can and will, but sometimes He uses other sources to help, too. This is when professional help should become a priority for someone's life.

Often times, the professional will use a combination of knowing how the soul and spirit work together and the knowledge of therapeutic techniques to help a person. I personally believe it is best to go to someone who knows the Lord, but He can also use counselors who do not. Whether Christian or not, counselors will use techniques such as strategic therapy to heal soul wounds from the present or during childhood, cognitive behavioral therapy to address current thoughts, replacing them with truth (which is biblical), or other kinds of therapies to help the individual experience the true value and freedom that God created them to live within. He can even use EMDR to bring back memories from childhood or trauma that the brain has flighted from because of the experience’s severity.

Some also may blend inner healing prayer, the prophetic voice, and intercession into their counseling practices if they are of faith. Many I know use the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the person's Spirit to reveal truths that the counselor couldn't otherwise see without the help of God, thus being a more holistic kind of therapy for those who are seeking God’s healing. Sometimes, medication is even considered and taken in partnership with therapy at the discretion of the professional and a person's and family’s medical history.

Many times individuals will sense new freedoms in their energy throughout the day, their relationships, their productivity, their expectations of the future, and their connection to God in all of these moments through these special techniques that I believe are God given to help heal His wounded people.

Though mental health is complex and there are many reasons why a person could be experiencing imbalances within the soul. To be truly free, we must go on the terrifying, yet exhilarating journey of diving into the stormy sea. What if freedom comes our willingness to let the Holy Spirit work within the places of the mind, emotions, and will along with connection to Him, the conscious, and our intuitions with Him? What if as we jumped, He was able to give us keys in the depths that unlock our freedom, identity, and destiny within Him?

What if He is bigger than we think, even in this area?

If He is goods and true, I think He would want to us to ask Him questions about our own souls, so that we can feel the fullness of life in every part of our being!
 
*If you are experiencing any current thoughts of suicide, panic, excessive condemnation, doublemindedness, excessive confusion, inability to see the next day, or anything that is hindering your ability to be present in life, I feel led to write on this post that it is a good thing to seek help. There are many, many wonderful Christian counselors in the Athens area that are willing to help you with the weight that God wants to begin to lift for you.

I have been in counseling for several years now and am a different person because I have allowed God to touch the deepest parts of my soul in ways that feel safe to me.

So, seek help.. He has healing for your soul.

Author  |  Emily Helton

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