Transformed: Mental Health

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…. – Philippians 5:2

I have a tendency toward “all or nothing” thinking. For instance, if I don’t have time for all 45 minutes of my workout I might not go to the gym at all.

Sometimes I pay too much attention to my “inner critic”, that condemning voice inside my head that says that I’m worthless and defined by my failures.

I recently traveled to another country. Several times I found myself judging their culture as “bad” just because it was different from my own.

These are just a few of my mental health issues.

Mental illness is serious business and worthy of more conversation. Our communities need greater access to care and we need to put an end to the stigma that is all too often attached to mental illness.

But I’m talking here about the broader issue of mental health. Literally, the health of our thinking. As you can see from the examples above, I’ve got a problem with “stinkin’ thinkin’” and I’ll bet you do too.

And that’s a serious issue because our thoughts control so much of our lives. You’ve probably heard the old phrase, “perception is reality”, and it’s true. How we think about things dictates how we respond to things in life. Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”

Healthy thinking matters. So, how do we develop healthy thinking? For some of us the answer is “therapy”. And I mean that sincerely. Some of our patterns of thinking are deeply imbedded in us from the wounds of our past, and to change our thinking we need compassionate, professional help.

Aside from that, I find it most helpful to immerse myself in the story of Jesus. Jesus’ story renews my mind, replacing the lies of “unlovable and unworthy” with the truths of “loved and forgiven.” Jesus’ story calls and empowers me to love my neighbor, especially those who are difficult to love. When my story is woven into Jesus’ story, I’m changed, including my thinking.

That’s how we live into Paul’s command in today’s Scripture reading from Philippians where Paul says, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” That’s the goal, to have the mind of Christ, to think as Jesus thought. Through the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus’ story does the work of renewing our minds over time, aligning our minds with Jesus’ mind.

How are you immersing yourself in Jesus’ story, allowing it to renew your mind?

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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