was promoted to project manager in another area, got a huge raise in pay and no longer had to work for the man.
I asked my friend what he learned from that, and he said he learned it was more important to hold form than to have one’s way. So he was trying to do the right thing – do what God wanted him to do – rather than tell this guy off and be right. That’s a very interesting lesson for me. It points to what’s important in life to me – that there are more important things than just always reacting to what happens to us.
The fifth point is giving and receiving. Do we know how to love other people? Interestingly, we’ll find out later that one of the five major areas of life that promotes happiness and mental health is our ability to have and maintain loving relationships with those who love us, but this is also part of religion, because all religions emphasize love as necessary for life.
Now there have been a lot of studies done about this – plenty of documentation – to show that people who can give and receive love tend to be happier. Can we hang in there with other people and their imperfections, or do we blow off relationships if they don’t suit us? Can we express our feelings honestly, so others can know us? Can we trust other people and let them see our feelings and our faults? Or is the world an unsafe place where we have to hide it from everyone? Do we know how to let other people help us? Do we know how to help other people? Do we love God? And do we know that God loves us? Love, when you boil it all down, is just really about taking care of each other. There again, I keep coming back to Camp Outreach and what I learned there – what happens when people reach beyond their own desires and extend their resources to help other people. People who love are also loved – not necessarily by the same ones they love, but it does come back to us.
Then, lastly, do we live our faith, or are there huge gaps in our practice of it? This is one of the easiest to understand. If we don’t make a goodfaith effort to practice what we say we believe, if we don’t attempt to live by our conscience, then those failed attempts create guilt in us, don’t they?
Paul said, “Whatever is not of faith, is sin,” right? So, if we’re not following our faith, then we’re sinning. We’re hurting ourselves. And when we live outside of our conscience, that causes guilt, and guilt creates anxiety, and anxiety sometimes causes anger, and anger is the same thing as depression. Those are some mental health terms, aren’t they? It all started with sin. So it’s not good for us to live outside of our conscience. It’s mentally unhealthy.
When I talk to people in my practice, I look to see if they’re violating their conscience, and try to help them begin aligning their life with what they believe is right. Of course, as Christians, we have an incredible gift given to us by Jesus Christ. Let’s look at that in 1 John 1, verse 8.
1 Jn. 1:8 – It says, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. That goes back to what I said in the beginning, doesn’t it, about selfdeception and the fact that we need truth about ourselves. If we try to kid ourselves and repress feelings of anger that might be sinful, or other feelings that are wrong or bad, unhealthy, and we deceive ourselves, he says the truth is not in is. And he says, But if we confess our sins, in verse 9, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness. So accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in our life is one of the most mentally healthy things you can do – not to mention the fact that you get to live forever.