By Dr. Cliff Robertson
Editor’s Note — The first article in this series is in the July 13 issue on page 4.
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-Webster’s Dictionary: “the quality or state of being mindful or 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. Self-talk is how we talk to ourselves. What are we thinking about, worrying about and stressing about? What are we 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 of 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.
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 often referred 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 — “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” (Rom. 12:2).
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.
— Dr. Cliff Robertson is an ordained minister, counselor, former church planter/Pastor at The Carpenter’s House (thecarpenters.house), BMA of Texas Church Planter/Missionary (bmat.org), founder of The Warriors Refuge (Veterans Homeless Shelter/Counseling Center & Vocational Training Facility), founder of Waypoint Ministries, writer and photographer. He has a B.S. in Psychology, MEd in Counseling, M.Div. in Creation Apologetics and a ThD in Theology. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.