The last couple of weeks, I have been recapping a sermon series (called Breakthrough) from the church we attend. You can read the previous posts here and here. In this sermon, Pastor Lance talks about the Battle of the Mind. When we are going through a breakthrough we can’t always jump to action. We must first, change the mind and the heart. In order to have a breakthrough we need to have a battle of the mind. In this sermon Pastor Lance specifically discusses mental illness. You can listen to the sermon here.
Pastor lance discussed the stigma surrounded mental health on our culture. He encourages that as a Christian community we cannot stand silent when it comes to the battle of the mind. Mental health concerns are all around us. It’s important for us as Christians to pray, to education ourselves, and to have the training/resources needed to lean into those who are struggling.
As a church, Mount Olive has seen that metal health concerns are rampant in the homeless population as well as in the criminal justice system. Overall, the prevalence of mental health concerns is on the rise. According to Pastor Lance, 40 million (20%) of American adults have been diagnosed with severe anxiety or depression. Among the teen population there has been an 8 times increase in anxiety and depression. As someone who works in education, this number does not surprise me. The number of students who are struggling with heavy and intense emotions is alarming.
Examining the Why
So why is there such an increase in mental health concerns…? Technology was discussed as a partial reason for the increase in mental health concerns. As a society, we are bombarded with information like never before. Add in the pressure to compete with the perfect pictures on social media and it can really have a negative impact. On top of technology, our immediate, “I need it now” perspective in our society creates an environment where our brain does not rest. We have gotten to a point where we cannot sit still.
There is also the concept of Analysis Paralyses. We have more choices than we have ever had before. Researches are now saying we make between 10,000-30,000 choices a day. We are so worried about making the wrong choice, we just don’t make a choice. Because of this pressure of so many choices we get to a point where just one more thing can push us over the edge.
Pastor Lance also discussed lack of close friendships and lack of close family time. This can be particularly detrimental to individuals struggling with mental health concerns, particularly in those who have experienced traumatic events or chronic stress. In order for healing to begin their social engagement system needs to be activated and those neural pathways in the brain need to be strengthened. Without close relationships, this cannot happen.
Pastor Lance shared that psychologists are saying this large increase in anxiety and depression in teens does not seem to correlate with wars or major times of societal difficulty. For example, the rates of depression were lower during the Great Depression than they are now. It’s less about what is happening to them but more about their perception of the world. This concept is very consistent with what I share with staff in training. We know that trauma is very much about the perception of the individual; not just about what happened to them.
How do we Make it through the Battle of the Mind?
Live Your Life with God at the Center
We currently have a humanistic view of the world; it’s all about me. Worship is no longer important. There is currently a concept of, “I’m Christian and I go to church when I want to.” Pastor Lance covets that we need a stronger foundation with God. A better way to live is to be centered and have a relationship with God. Consistent worship is important. It changes the way you act, think, and feel. It improves your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Renewing of the mind is about our focus on God each and every day. Worship is more than just an hour a week. It’s a lifestyle.
Life is not about us but about him and serving him. As we serve him it shapes our heart and mind. Get out of worldly patterns and focus on the Godly patterns. Bombard yourself with the word of the Lord rather than the worldly things that bring us down (e.g. Instagram and getting stuck on the perfect picture). Keeping God at the center helps use remember his faithfulness. No matter what you are going through, God is faithful.
Lean into Family and Friends
In addition to keeping God at the center, we need to lean into our family and friends. In Jesus’ darkest moment, the night before he was to be crucified, he leaned into his close friends. Jesus opens up to his friends about his sorrow. He prays to God and asks his friends to pray for him as well. So, if you are struggling with a battle of the mind, just as Jesus did, lean into close Christian friends. Open up and be honest to them. They can pray for you, watch with you, and so they can lean into you.
To close the message Pastor Lance reminds everyone that as a Christian community we need to pray and we need to lean into each other. Because we are a family of faith and no one fights alone. Because with our Lord Savior Jesus Christ, the creator of life, life is so sacred. Life is worth fighting for and no one fights alone!
Want to reflect further on this sermon?! You can download my reflection sheet here.