Nurturing Spiritual Growth by Caring for the Mind and Body
I am a Christian. After years of life in a sheltered church environment, I dove out into the world to find people in different spiritual spaces. Most of what I found was enlightening, encouraging, and helped increase my closeness to God. But along the way, I found a problematic doctrine that weaponized the bible against the believer. One such doctrine is that mental health issues are a problem of faith, not medicine. Nothing is farther from the truth and here is why.
God Gave Us This Body
God gave us our bodies to bring His light to the world around us. Through our kindness and loving actions, the world sees God on earth. Our job is to care for this precious vessel He gifted to us. If our body needs care, we see a physician. With our blood pressure, we take medicine, watch our diet, and exercise. Sugar is not quite right? There are medicine and diet plans. Physical therapy, medicine, or surgery may be warranted if we injure our hip. The same principles need to apply to our mental health.
Your Brain is Part of Your Body
I may not be a scientist, but the last time I checked, the brain is a part of the body. Sometimes, instead of our heart, lungs, or bones causing an issue, our brain does. We need to care for our brain with the same consistency as our body. Let’s do a side-by-side comparison. Your thyroid levels are off, so you are prescribed a medication to correct them. Your anxiety is high, so you are prescribed a medication to calm you down. Constant knee pain is ruling your life, so you are sent to a physical therapist. Anxiety and depression are taking over your every moment, so you go to see a counselor. We must take care of the whole person. If you would not hesitate to care for your heart, please consider caring for your brain similarly.
Not a Barrier to Faith
If your faith is strong, then your mental health struggles will be few is an unfair assumption. Mental health struggles can be a barrier to inhibit our faith. If your mind is full of worry, anxiety, and fear, how can you settle and be quiet enough to experience the presence of God? Instead of seeing mental health care as a sword destroying faith, I see it as a road to experiencing faith more fully. As you care for your mind, spiritual energy has more room to flow freely. When your brain finds alternative paths of peace, it can use this extra space to experience connection. Connection to the present allows us to see God more clearly. In clarity, faith grows.
Caring for the Whole Person
If God was standing before you, would He wish you harm? The answer is NO. The God of the universe loves His creation and wants only the best for us. When caring for your physical and mental health, remember that God loves you first and foremost. He does not wish you harm, nor does He want you to struggle. By caring for yourself, you are honoring God. Honoring God brings more light into the world. Be God’s light and love by caring for His creation in its wholeness–mind, body, and spirit.