I recently went to a conference where one of the speakers said something that left me pondering. She pointed out that where our minds go, the rest of us is sure to follow.
I began to think about our world today and the rise in mental health issues among our generation. Everywhere we turn, we hear news about the woes of our economy. Evidence of political and social unrest is splashed across social media platforms. Inflation is rising. Politicians are lying, etc. It is no wonder that we are seeing more reports of mental health cases in this generation than in any generation before. The current conditions of our world are scary and painful.
When our minds are constantly fixated on everything wrong with our society, it’s easy for us to begin to view life through a lens of pain. When we’re focused on the pain, we begin to lose trust and find ourselves suspicious of everyone and everything. Anger and fear are natural emotional responses to pain. When we operate out of those emotions, we tend to make choices that lead us to feel shame. Before we know it, we are caught in this cycle:
Suspicion Fear Anger Shame back to Suspicion
In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Jesus instructs us to posture ourselves to ask, seek and knock. But sometimes, especially when I’m tired, triggered or stressed, I find myself positioned to “know, assume, and defend” rather than ask, seek, and knock.
Recently, I was feeling stressed about balancing all of my house-wife-mom duties with my work duties. I began to feel resentful toward my husband because he didn’t seem to notice how stressed I was feeling. I just knew that he should know about how overwhelmed I was, even though I hadn’t told him. I assumed he just didn’t care. Man, oh man, did I get defensive. I got angry at him and I erupted all of my thoughts like a volcano! Of course, after that, I felt ashamed. Thankfully, my husband was very gracious to me. Once he heard how I was feeling, he rearranged his schedule to help me. He was willing to “ask, seek and knock” while I “knew, assumed and defended”. At that moment, I was reminded to examine the lens I’m choosing to see my circumstances through. Am I seeing through a lens of pain or a lens of hope?
I had to remind myself of 2 key truths:
1. Jesus Christ died to set me free. Galatians 5:1 says, “Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don’t ever become slaves of the law again.” This means that my hope is not bound to my circumstances. My hope rests firmly on God. God put my husband and me together to be teammates. I’m not alone in my struggles and neither are you. God is not surprised by anything that is happening in our world today. We have not been called to be saviors. It isn’t our job to carry it all on our shoulders. Jesus is our savior and He wants to carry our burdens.
2. God created me to be brave. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) We don’t have to make decisions in haste or in response to our emotions. He is in control of all things. He is calling us to be bold in our faith and to trust that we are not in this life alone.
When we remember these truths our cycle changes from:
Suspicion, Fear, Anger, Shame
Fascination, Peace, Love, Self-control
These truths take us from “know, assume, defend” to “ask, seek, knock”.
Marina Guzman is Children’s Ministry Director at Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559-582-1528.