Tag Archives: mental health

Faith & Mental Health Article #2 – Real Change is Possible

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Faith & Mental Health Article #2 – Real Change is Possible

A new word is being thrown around like we are all supposed to know what it means – mindfulness. What exactly does it mean? According to Merriam-Websters Dictionary –

mind·​ful·​ness | \ ˈmīn(d)-fəl-nəs  \

Definition of mindfulness

1: the quality or state of being mindful

2: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis

also such a state of awareness

The “guru”community uses this word like it is really something new.The truth is, God’s word has always spoken to us about keeping our minds focused on the right things –

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you be careful to do everything written in it.” Joshua 1:8 NIV

But how do we do that? Is God’s Word telling us to walk around with a Bible open like a monk? No! But it does mean that we change our self-talk.

  1. Self talk – How do we talk to ourselves? What are we thinking about – worrying about – stressing about? What are complaining about? Are we sharing gossip? What do we say in our own minds when we see others on social media with “better lives”?

All of these things can lead to negative mental health. We can talk ourselves into a pit despair. We can also talk ourselves into a far better place. Paul said –

                “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest,  whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.   

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and seen in me, do: and the peace of God shall be with you.” Phil. 4:8-9

How we think and talk to ourselves can renew and transform our minds and bring us peace. While this is easy to say, it can be difficult to do. When you are struggling with depression or anxiety… or maybe even excessive worry, reach out to a Christian counselor you can trust, a pastor, or a close friend.

2. Act as if… – Life can be tough and often seem overwhelming. We can see obstacles and allow them to stop us from moving forward. But God can overcome any obstacle and He makes a way, even when one doesn’t currently exist. I want to add here that while this is a fairly common statement of faith, in the midst of grief, depression or anxiety, it can be tough to do on your own. I would encourage you to seek help in both prayer and in the person of a Christian counselor or pastor. We were not meant to walk alone through these valleys. Paul, in the New Testament, referred often to a church or an individual that refreshed his spirit during his times of great testing. I think we should seek out the same.

This article series is based on the passage – Romans 12:2

“And do not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

It is important to be mindful of God’s Word and to know what His will is for our lives. It can be challenging to see or determine what that is when we are struggling with our mental health. Notice the renewing of the mind comes before “proving” or knowing, (as it is sometimes translated) the will of God in our lives. The clouds of doubt that swirl in our minds while battling depression or anxiety can make even the simplest things seem impossible.

And let’s not forget where the passage begins – And do not be conformed to this world…

The world has lots to say about you. From social media to pop culture, not to mention all the talking heads that are bantering about their opinions, mixed with “psycho-babble” – none of which is helpful and is often very hurtful. The key is to hear from the sources that bring life to your spirit and truly renew your mind. The world does not know or want what is best for you – that is why we are not to be conformed to it. In seeking what God has for us we are renewed, and God’s will – which is good and perfect – becomes known. That is what brings us the peace that surpasses understanding.

Faith & Mental Health Series Part 1

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Topics of mental health, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, grief, PTSD, and suicide are everywhere in the news today. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the total age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 35.2% from 1999 to 2018. According to the CDC, there were reports of increases in mental health struggles due to the circumstantial stress during the pandemic. We expected that it would have a causal effect on suicide as well… but it didn’t. According to the CDC, the suicide rate went down by 3% and has stayed down during the past several years.

What can account for that?

I believe there are several factors that certainly contributed to this.

  • First, people were at home more. While there was stress over the situation, there was a shared burden. Families were talking about their fears and hopes. The Bible talks a lot about family. Exodus 20:12 gives us a blessing of long life when we honor our father and mother.
  • Second, when we are with those that we love, there is strength. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” I think this pandemic qualifies as a time of adversity.
  • Third, this time together created an opportunity for family restoration. When people begin to talk, they begin to see the problems, recognize their part -seek forgiveness and offer forgiveness. This brings healing where before there was only hurting. Colossians 3:13 tells us, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
  • Fourth, I believe that with the opening of telehealth, some people who were unable to get mental health services were able to access them for the first time. In our busy lives, we are always on the run. Mental health often gets placed on the back burner when there are other issues. During the pandemic, there was time, but there wasn’t opportunity. Telehealth came in and filled that need. This reminds me of the words of Christ – Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. Matt. 7:7

People were asking and it was given. Some in the faith community say,

“If you have enough faith, you won’t need counseling… you won’t have mental health problems like depression… you won’t need medication… etc.”

The truth is the Bible speaks a lot about mental health. It never says that a person won’t need help. I love what Christian Comedian Chonda Pierce says,

                “I get through my days with Jesus, counseling, and my prescriptions.”

A lady responded to her,

                “If you had a little more faith and trusted Jesus more, you wouldn’t need those prescriptions.”

Chonda’s response was perfect,

“I will put down my prescriptions, that a Christian doctor prescribed for me when you drive home tonight without your glasses or stop taking your blood pressure medication and insulin.”

I believe that God works in us and through us in a variety of ways. We live in a broken world and people are hurting more than ever. God uses all means necessary to bring healing and restoration to our lives… including doctors.

Mental health challenges are real and God calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I believe we can do this with His Word, the Holy Spirit, faith, and the people that God has equipped to come alongside us to walk through these valleys – family, friends, counselors, pastors, and doctors.

God is Good!

We often hear the phrase – God is good. It is usually followed up – All the time. Then, we hear it said a different way – All the time, God is good. But what does that mean?

Too often, we have these cliches, that may be spoken with the best of intentions, but are they – spoken with any intention at all? I say this because it is so easy to say simple phrases like – I’m good or I love you or something else and they become statements that are said without meaning or real intention. In fact, in those moments, they can actually be a lie.

But when we use God’s name this way, what are we really saying? Are we trying to tell our friends, spouse or even the world that we believe that God is indeed good. Heck, in todays economy of language and word usage – what does the word good even mean? I mean when someone asks you how you are doing, what is your typical response?

“I’m good!” or “All good!”

But is that the truth? I would venture a guess that most of the time we use that phrase, it is really saying – I don’t really want to talk about. So, when a word like “good” is caught up in that kind of usage and it has become so common that it has become meaningless, how does this reflect on our statement – “God is good”?

Here is something to consider – if, in the course of our normal conversations, we have ascribed no value to a word, like good, its usage can be described as “vain” or useless, pointless – producing no result. Wouldn’t that lead us to conclude that we may be taking the Lord’s name in vain?

Or let’s go one step further. If we say that we are Christian and yet, we do not act in accordance with Christ, are we not taking His name in vain there too?

My goal here is not to condemn but to get us thinking and maybe have us to change the way we use certain phrases. Maybe we stop and think and then intentionally say – God is good, oh so good. He has done for me, what I cannot do for myself. I realize that it may be difficult to get that out in every situation. But if we are thinking that, it therefore becomes the intention of the statement. I believe that people can tell the difference but more importantly – God knows our hearts and our intention.

One last thing – God truly is good and He makes our lives matter by His goodness, love and empowering Spirit. He calls us His Masterpiece, even when we feel like we are nothing but a mess. He has a mission for us, even when we feel lost, with no purpose. Your life matters – no matter what, no matter where you are and no matter how many mistakes you have made. God is just that good!

If you get a chance, check out my books – Your Life Matters, The Toolkit To Change Your World and Transformed – A Memoir of a Life Changed By God. Both are available on Amazon or at http://www.yourlifematterstoday.com

Also, check out the new radio show/podcast on VoiceAmerica beginning 5/17/22 at 9am called – Your Life Matters Today by Dr. Cliff Robertson, Jr. My first guest is my long-time friend – Cesar Cantu, the current Executive Director of The Warriors Refuge.

God Bless You!

Dr Cliff

#YourLifeMatters – Today

So often, we look down on ourselves and devalue our worth. Many times that comes from outside sources. I will tell you that when an outside input makes us feel like we are less, then we need to be looking elsewhere for our input. Here are some thoughts that I just dumped on a page. I am writing a book about this topic and would love any ideas or stories. There is also a podcast attached this blog – https://www.buzzsprout.com/1624801/episodes/7360324
What does advertising say about us?

  • If we buy this or that we will be cool, attract the right people and get the girl or the guy or the job or the house or everything we want
  • It tells us that we are not enough without the product
  • It creates impossible standards of beauty
  • It’s a lot like pornography and the images it creates about sex
    What does bullying say about us?
  • IF you are the bully it says that you are not enough on your own and you need to tear others down in order to feel like you are important
  • It probably means that you were bullied as a child – most likely at home
  • The one being bullied it makes them feel like they are less and often humiliated
    What does atheism say about the person?
  • You are here today and …. Pushing up daisies tomorrow
    What does creation say about you?
  • That you are unique and special just the way you are
  • That you were created for a purpose that only you can fulfill
  • That there is no one else on the planet like you – you are a one of a kind and we are blessed and honored to know and love you.
    What does how your body was designed say about you and your value?
  • Some are born with diseases that adversely impact their capacity to do certain things. But does this diminish their value? No – I believe that God tells us that we all have a purpose and that purpose is seen in His strength at work through us – not our strength alone. I believe that this means that means that we need to look beyond our greatest challenges and see the gifts
    What do we say about ourselves?
  • That we are not enough
  • That we are stupid
  • That we are poor
  • That we are ugly/fat
  • Not enough education
  • Not enough money
  • Wrong job/no opportunities to improve – stuck
  • No one likes me
  • I’m a bad person
  • No one will ever love me
  • Everyone thinks I am a loser
    Why are these questions important?
    It tells a story about who we think we are. Until we deal with those thoughts that are negative, it makes it impossible to think any different. We create cognitive distortions in our mind that replay like a DVD from hell. It is telling us what the media is saying, what our past is saying, what we think others are saying and what our thoughts about ourselves tell us. We must learn a new way of processing those thoughts and systematically destroying them. The narrative we create in our head or that maybe our parents/peers/media create for us can destroy us or at the very least hold us back from experiencing a life that is beyond compare to anything we can begin to imagine.
    If we are going to make the bold statement – Your Life Matters, then we have to ask the question –
  • What matters about me?
  • What impact do I make?
    • In my own life? § I do things that make me happy § I experience joy by things I do § I provide safety and security § I grow intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually § I create a career – a path that I excel in – and this makes me feel good about me – In your home? § Your presence matters – listening § your intelligence and wisdom matters § your capacity to serve your home, even if it is just with ideas and creative input § your caring § your contribution lightens the load of others
      • In school?
        § You create a job for others by being there
        § Your interaction in class and with others makes a difference
      • At work?
        § The product you deliver matters
        § The income you create impacts others/yourself

What about when I am not ok?
o To others

  • I am depressed and no one cares?
    o This is tough because a lot of times people will suffer with depression in silence and they believe that no one cares. The lie we tell ourselves is that no one cares but if we were to reach out and talk with someone about it we would find that there are people who care. There are people who have experienced exactly what we are going through and may be able to help us through it. We may find others who are going through it right now and the fact that you and them are not alone in this struggle any more can be each of your saving grace
  • I am anxious about my future and whether my life really matters and no one cares
    o Your future is full of a lot of unknowns. But what you can do is your best today. You can make a plan and walk it out a day at a time. Make a reasonable timeline based on how long things normally take, like degrees and certifications, and walk it out. Being anxious about the future is common but when we have a plan and a timeline we can reduce it. When we see progress, we feel good about ourselves, that is why a timeline is important. One note – an overly aggressive timeline can be more hurtful than helpful because you will inevitably get behind and this can be anxiety inducing.
    o Progress adds meaning to your life.
  • Why do my choices matter to anyone?
    o Every choice – good or bad – impacts others
  • Why do I matter at all?
    o Every life, no matter how long or short is a complete life and it serves a purpose – it matters
  • Does it matter if I help someone?
    o Think about this for just a moment – You help Joe with a project. It allows him to return home sooner, to spend time with his kids and wife. The happiness that you created by a simple act of assistance cannot be measured. What if it ends up being one of those moments that his wife or kids never forgets because it was something that memorable… What if the fact you helped him and he shares that story with his kids, so they in turn do the same for someone else and the impact becomes exponential. What if Joe in turns helps someone else and it saves their marriage?… The line of impact is beyond comprehension.
  • Does it really matter if I hurt someone?
    o Yes! The same is true but in the opposite direction if you hurt someone instead of helping.
  • What if I hurt myself?
    o Intentional self-harm is an epidemic in this country. When one person hurts themselves by ending their life, it is often followed by several others. When others see us survive a difficult time, it encourages others to persevere.
  • What if I cure cancer?
    o YAY! You are a hero but you don’t have to do something so heroic to matter – small things matter as well
    What if I do nothing?
    No one fails to make an impact. If we were to channel our own inner George Baily, from It’s a Wonderful Life, we would see the truth behind the difference we make. If you are on planet earth, you are doing something and it matters. Even the baby in NICU, who is struggling to be alive is impacting his or her world in ways that we cannot sit here and calculate. So if a struggling infant is making a difference, what does that say for an adult or young person who had a far greater capacity?
    It means that your life matters in ways that we are going to discover. Hang in there with me and let’s explore it. In this podcast/blog, we are going to be hearing stories – some personal and others from people you have heard of and some you haven’t. You are going to hear some statistics and some science, alongside some psychology. Some you agree with, others you won’t and that is ok too.
    But at the end of the day, I want you to know that your life is significant – YOU MATTER!
    God Bless You,
    Dr. Cliff Robertson, Jr.