Faith should impact all aspects of our lives, right?
I tend to believe that everything is integrated, connected. Our soul’s health affects our mental health affects our physical health. One can’t really be isolated from the other… sort of like a trinity.
It’s just that we often choose to live dis-integrated, dis-connected lives.
We have our spiritual lives and then our everyday lives. We have the secular and we have the spiritual. We have what we believe and how we live.
Maybe this is a stretch: but perhaps that’s why there still exists a stigma when it comes to mental health amongst certain Christian circles. Like, we limit the help one can get because the only help that counts comes from Christian circles.
Depression? Pray it away.
Still depressed? Pray harder.
Still depressed? Maybe there’s some unresolved sin. Pray for forgiveness and just be happy.
And because Jesus cures all in the end, all you need is Jesus.
(There is some truth to that, but that’s why God called some people to be doctors, others to be counselors, others to be therapists, others to be ministers, etc.)
It’s okay to believe in Jesus and have a therapist. It’s never one or the other. It’s okay to tell Jesus about the therapist you’re seeing and vice versa. Our faith should compel us to be healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually.
After all, faith should help improve our wellness all around.
Spirituality and worship help give us a higher sense of purpose and encourage us to think in positive ways. Take Paul’s words to the Philippians:
From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.
Studies have shown that mediation and prayer have mental health benefits. From my own personal experience, there have been quite a few times when prayer helped me slow things down and reassess before going into full panic mode. “Breath Prayers” (that my colleague Ryan Dunn talked about in a video for Rethink Church) really helps me calm down (even if it’s just for a tiny bit).
Being part of a faith community, I have a support network that helps in time of need. Not only that, it gives me opportunity to help others which fills our lives with positivity. Most churches provide almost never-ending opportunities to serve.
So be intentional in engaging in activities that make you feel whole.
Do things that give you joy on a regular basis.
And let yourself rest. Following the drumbeat of the world can leave us exhausted.
So take Sabbath to pause from the craziness of the world so that you can remember who you are and whose you are.
Do you remember that Snickers commercial?
You know, the one where one person is acting aggressively grumpy (usually portrayed by a celebrity like Danny Trejo or Betty White) and someone hands them a Snickers and they return to their original form and it ends with: “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”
We’re also not ourselves when we’re tired.
It’s difficult to be anything, let alone faithful, when we’re exhausted.
When the Israelites slaves workload was doubled, Exodus 6:9 tells us “they didn’t listen to Moses, because of their complete exhaustion and their hard labor.”
In 1 King 19, Elijah complained to God, “I’m can’t even! I just want to die!” And God basically responded, “Eat some food and take a nap!”
Elijah slept, ate, and realized that he may have overblown the situation.
Even God thinks that we should not underestimate the power of a snack and a nap.
So be intentional in taking care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Many of us are good at taking care of others but fail miserably when it comes to self-care. Don’t be ashamed to take some “me-time” and do things that give you joy or empowers you to become better.
Every year, on my birthday, I make a resolution/goal in each of the “categories” that help me towards the path of wholeness. My physical goal was to run a mile under 8 minutes. My spiritual goal was to read 20 faith/ministry/church related books within the year. My mental goal was to get better at writing and say ‘yes’ to any writing opportunity that came my way since writing is something that gives me joy.
Maybe goals/resolution making isn’t your cup of tea. But be intentional in engaging in things that will make you spiritually, physically, and mentally healthier. Take care of yourself because you are God’s favorite creation.
Joseph Yoo is a West Coaster at heart contently living in Houston, Texas with his wife and son. He serves at Mosaic Church in Houston. Find more of his writing at josephyoo.com.