The Battle of the Mind
I’ve always been fascinated with the human mind. Trying to understand why someone thinks or acts the way they do, what causes them to respond to certain situations, and how their personality traits contribute to a team or workplace. This fascination led to an undergraduate degree in psychology, a master’s in counseling psychology, and doctorate in organizational leadership, which is a specialization within Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Mental health has been a huge part of my life both educationally and personally.
About five years ago, I had gotten to a point where anxiety and panic consumed my life. Panic attacks were a daily, sometimes hourly occurrence, and the weight of my anxiety was overwhelming, to the point of me having a full-blown nervous breakdown. I could no longer function in my daily life. Through the support of my family, my counselor, and Lexapro (prescribed by my doctor), I began to develop the necessary skills and coping mechanisms to combat my anxiety.
It was not until the recent events of COVID-19 where many of those same feelings began to resurface. The fear of the unknown, the loss of normalcy, the feelings of worry and angst all were taking residence in my mind. And I know these are the same thoughts and feelings many of you are experiencing as well, maybe even some for the first time. It can be hard to process these feelings, especially if you have never experienced them before. We wonder why we feel this way, maybe even begin to think something is wrong with us. So, instead of talking about it, we internalize it. Hide it away thinking one day it will magically just disappear. We even push these feelings away because we do not want to be perceived to our family or friends as “weak.”
Here’s the thing. The truth really. There are over 53 verses in scripture dealing with anxiety and there are over 300 verses in scripture dealing with fear. I think it is safe to say God knew it would be something we would battle with. But the best part is, every battle of the mind we face, Jesus has already overcome. Remember the words of Jesus in John 16, “In this world you will face trials of many kind but take heart for I have overcome the world.” This verse paints a beautiful picture for us. One showing how every anxious thought, every fear, every struggle we may have, He knows, sees, and has overcome.
Every battle of the mind we face, Jesus has already overcome.
One of the perks of a psychology background is having tons of friends who are professional counselors. In talking with one, Alena Grieser, a Licensed Professional Counselor in Grand Rapids, she shared with me the importance of giving yourself permission to feel things and to talk about them.
She says, “In this season, lots of things are both hard and uncertain. And yet lots of things are new and maybe even peaceful. Wherever you may fall on this continuum, I’m realizing that we are all in this together and that we need permission — permission to feel lots of different things in one day and permission to talk about them. I think so often we forget about the physical and emotional benefits of sharing our feelings with someone we know and trust.”
In this season, or others, you may find yourself content one minute or worried the next. But it is important to allow yourself permission to experience those emotions and talk about them with a family member, spouse, trusted friend, or counselor. Alena shared with me a simple exercise to process through either with yourself, family, or trusted individuals in this season or others filled with similar emotions, anxiety, or fear.
In a journal or through conversation, answer the following three questions:
1️⃣ What has this season (COVID-19, etc.) taken from you?
2️⃣ What have you gained from this season?
3️⃣ What do you want to take with you in the future from this season?
Amid doubt, fear, worry, or anxiety it can be hard to see the good. For many of you the stress of job loss, the illness or death of a loved one, or becoming an instant homeschool family, has left you with emotions or struggles you could never imagine. Take some time and give yourself permission to acknowledge and process through your emotions. Ask yourself the questions above. Seek wise counsel or professional help if needed. There is no shame in getting help. I will say it again a little louder for the people in the back, there is no shame in getting help. And as you do and experience these things, remember the words of Jesus in John 16, He has overcome.
Take some time and give yourself permission to acknowledge and process through your emotions.
On a recent episode of Woodside Bible’s The Link, Senior Pastor Chris Brooks was joined by two counselors and our Detroit campus pastor to have a discussion on the importance of mental health in this season and beyond. The discussion shares the importance of taking care of your emotional health, not being afraid of seeking help, and allowing Christ to fill you with the peace that passes all understanding. If you have not already, take a few moments to watch it. Below are a few different counselors or resources available to you in this season and beyond.
Resources Available for Questions and Counseling:
Dr. Sabrina Black, Abundant Life Counseling 313.201.6286 or through her website www.drsabrinablack.com
Christy Schmidt, LPC, Great Lakes Psychology Group at 800.693.1916
Alena Grieser, LPC, Insight Counseling Partners at 616.987.0052
Or any Woodside Bible Campus Pastor, www.woodsidebible.org
“Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.” — Matthew 11:28. May we find comfort and peace in the arms of our loving Savior.