Hey sweet friends! My name is Marisa, and I am a graduate student studying clinical mental health counseling. It is an honor to spend this moment with you in this space, together in faith & in truth.
Today I will share with you what mental health is, what mental illness is, what scripture says about mental health, and I will share a short version of my testimony to faith and mental health.
So let’s dive right in! What is mental health?
Mental health includes our spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual well-being.
Our spiritual health is our mental health.
Our emotional health is our mental health.
Our physical health is our mental health.
Our intellectual health is our mental health.
When one of the four lifestyles is neglected or overlooked, it affects our mental health and can allow other lifestyles to plummet if we are not constantly aware of how we are taking care of ourselves.
Can you think back to a time when this can be relatable?
Maybe there was a time when you reacted automatically with emotion, or times when you did not read your Bible because you kept forgetting, or you stopped physical activity because you were too busy.
If so, think about how this affects your mental well-being.
On our next topic:
What is mental illness?
Mental illness refers to all diagnoseable mental disorders. These are significant changes in thinking, emotions, behavior, and severe distress in problems that function in daily activities and interactions, such as work, relationships and family.
Mental illness is a condition that disables the state of mind.
While mental health is the well-being of the mind.
It is important to know the differences in what mental health means and what mental illness means, because they mean different things. It is also important for us to know these differences to avoid assumptions about others or our own mental well-being.
My next topic is easily one of my favorites, because it brings another layer of understanding to our being and allows us to be freed from the truth.
Scripture in the Bible does not only contain good stories, it:
Is also about the traumas in life
Not always understanding the situation that you are in
What joy in suffering looks like
How we can overcome battles with God’s strength
How we each have purpose and meaning in life
How we were created
And this list goes on…
This is the book of life.
The Book of Psalms helps us relate to many of our emotions. Although David had a very close relationship with God, he faced hopelessness, joy, and the ups and downs of his emotions.
Psalm 23: 4 is our way of encouraging ourselves and others to trust God, even when we are in a dark place. Trust that he is walking with you through this darkness, even if you cannot see the light.
“Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
In 2 Corinthians 10:5
Paul says, “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Your thoughts lose their power in fear when you bring it to light. Jesus wants us to share our darkest thoughts with Him so that He can find a way for the light. When your thoughts are bottled up, it gives your mind the vulnerability to ruminate about the thought (s) and can cause distress.
John 16:33 says:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
When we are in the presence of God, we have peace, but being of this world comes with tribulation. We will all face hardship throughout our lives because suffering is the human experience. If we have the strength of the Lord, we have a solid foundation on which to lean.
The quality of our mental health will fluctuate throughout our lives. We will not always be happy, joyful, brave or fearless, but we will also not always be sad. The Lord always offers us a way out. Out of our circumstances, from our situations, from our mess. The Lord has peace, love and comfort to offer you, because He has overcome the world.
He knows how you feel
Because He was betrayed too.
He knows how you feel
Because He was unfairly treated too.
He knows how you feel
Because He wasn’t liked by everyone too.
God knows how you feel
Because He created you.
I cling onto this verse for times of encouragement for my mental health:
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.
14 The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so you may obey it.
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.
16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
The topic of faith & mental health is something I am passionate about, because I have struggled so desperately with both. I will share a little back story about my testimony and how I got here, so that you can all see the magnification of the glory and hope of our Lord Jesus.
I have been struggling with my mental health for as long as I can remember. Can anyone else relate?
Prior to my relationship with Jesus, I was filled with anxiety and experienced waves of depression for years. I struggled with my identity, my self worth, body image, and attention. I felt like I was spiraling out of control. The struggle to heal from sexual, spiritual, and physical trauma had also led to depression and a hopeless outlook on life that brought forth a seemingly unshakeable darkness. I didn’t know who I was anymore, but good thing Jesus did.
3 years ago, I had an encounter with the Lord, which served as a significant influence in paving the way for me to get back on my feet. Just as I thought I was unworthy of receiving salvation, through the darkest nights, Jesus brought me life in all my sins, just as I was, needing a Savior to build me new and show me his love. I was not seeking Jesus prior to my encounter, but through Him, I am here today, living, breathing and eager to make a difference. Since that night, I have found a community in the Church, made amazing friends in small groups, continued my mental health journey, and created a completely new life of peace and joy.
By sharing my testimony, I would like to say that Jesus can take all your mess and make it so beautiful. I hope that after reading this, you can see how your mental health and faith coexist, and how important it is to look after your mind, body and soul with peace, love and safety from our Lord, Jesus.
Your Sister in Faith,