"Beloved, I hope you are prospering in every respect and are in good health, just as your soul is prospering. rejoiced greatly when some of the brothers* came and testified to how truly you walk in the truth. Nothing gives me greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth"(3 Jn. 1:2-4)
“Into each life some rain must fall” is a nice way of saying that in this life, we will all face trials, tribulations, and storms, but the question becomes, what will you do when the storms of life hit you? As a mental health therapist specializing in the field of victimization, I am well acquainted with the emotional toll life’s storms can have on our ability to function optimally. To function emotionally in a healthy way means that we are in touch with our own abilities, we are able to handle and cope with the normal stresses of life, and we can work productively and successfully. But what happens when the unexpected happens, and life throws you a curve ball? Suddenly, the unforeseen and the unpredicted rocks your world. Death, divorce, abuse, loss of a job, sickness, or the breakup of a relationship, just to name a few of the traumas life can hurl our way, will leave us in a state of crisis and render us feeling angry, lost, and confused about how to put the pieces of our life back together again.
Our mental health or emotional well-being is the part of us we so often neglect until we find ourselves in a state of emotional distress brought on by life’s storms and crises, and we realize we are having difficulty functioning. When we talk about mental health, we are talking about how we feel and how our feelings affect us. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being and affects our thoughts, feelings, and acts. Stress, anxiety, and depression are often byproducts of life’s storms and can rob us of the joy, peace, and happiness God desires all of us to have. Not only can they affect us emotionally, but they can impact us physically as well. It is estimated that people make 50 to 70% of all visits to physicians with a stress-related problem, and the CDC reports that stress accounts for 90 to 95% of all diseases and illnesses. In the book, “Prime Time Sister “ on their topic of stress, they report, “stress and depression can also increase your risk for stroke, diabetes, cancer, overweight and obesity, and a poor functioning thyroid.”
Many of us walk around like human sponges carrying within us years of trauma, hurt, anger, and pain and depriving ourselves of the life of peace and happiness that God desires us to have. The Bible tells us that God desires us to be in good health and prosper as our soul prospers (3 John 1:2); but how do we do that? I am offering three suggestions for navigating the storms in your life and aiding in reaching the other side. Because I am a Christian therapist, my first line of defense is God.
1. Remember God is with you: Deuteronomy 31:6 assures us that God will never leave or forsake us. That means that whatever we are going through, we may feel alone, but we are really never alone. When storms come, we are often tempted to ask why. It’s even human to ask why, but questioning why is like a stop sign. The truth of the matter is that even if we knew the why, it wouldn’t change what is. As long as we have Jesus in the boat with us, we will get to the other side. Sometimes, Jesus will allow the storm in order to draw us closer to Him. In the words of Paulo Coelho:
2. Take care of your temple: self-care is always important, but when you’re in a storm, you must be deliberate about taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. Some examples of that are relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation. Exercise is a great stress reliever in addition to being excellent for promoting a healthy lifestyle. Engaging in an activity that you enjoy, such as reading, coloring, or cooking, can put you in a peaceful state of mind and be very relaxing. Last but not least,
3. Godly counsel: We must remember that although God can do the miraculous, he most often partners with His children and works through us to accomplish His will in our lives. Wise counsel can help us sort through all elements and issues we are facing while navigating through the storm. Proverbs 19:20 states, “Get all the advice and instruction you can, and be wise the rest of your life.” In the words of Joseph Fleming, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” We all need one another; God made us to be interdependent upon each other, and everything He made is good in His sight. Seeking Godly counsel is not only wise but prudent.
Jesus told us, “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). As children of the Most High God, we, too, are overcomers. Take courage and ride the wave.
Author: Gail Bethea-Jackson, licensed clinical social worker (LCSW-C), the Director and CEO of the Pathfinder Project. Author of Inspirational Things By Gail.