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Mental Health for 2010

As the last days of this decade tick away and we ready ourselves for 2010 the media bombards us with reflections of the past and dire projections for the future.  Sadly this year those backward looks frequently reflect bitterness and blame. The forward projections are fraught with angst and anger; enough to raise our normal stress level toward breaking and keep our minds confused if we focus consistently on the bad news.

As the last days of this decade tick away and we ready ourselves for 2010 the media bombards us with reflections of the past and dire projections for the future.  Sadly this year those backward looks frequently reflect bitterness and blame. The forward projections are fraught with angst and anger; enough to raise our normal stress level toward breaking and keep our minds confused if we focus consistently on the bad news.

I am reminded of the first lines of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, IF.” If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” (In fact the entire poem is amazingly current in its thoughts.)  Not surprisingly God gives some practical instructions for retaining our sanity when all around us seems to be whirling out of control.

Philippians 4: 8-9 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.  

Thinking about what is true, respectable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or praiseworthy and choosing to do the things we learned from Paul leads to peace and sanity in a world of confusion.

I remember when my teenage daughter began driving, much before the days of instant communication via cell phones.  The first time she was later than expected I was rapidly losing my peace, descending into anxiety, when these verses rescued me. Taking each anxious thought I began to rehearse in my mind whatsoever things are true; she passed Driver’s Ed with flying colors. God is in control.  We have discussed what to do should she encounter car trouble.  As I began to focus on truths about God and the situation while breathing a prayer the level of anxiety began to subside and my heart rate settled back into a normal range.

As we encounter the projections and predictions of 2010 I’m reminded of these same mental health verses.  Let’s focus on what we know to be true, keep our minds focused o the excellent and praiseworthy things and choose to live in ways we know please God and we can look forward to a praise filled 2010.

The movie, The Blind Side, portrays how living by focusing on attributes such as respect and love leads to a life that impacts others in life changing ways.  It seems to me that the overwheming success of this film demonstrates how our world is hungry to see lives that model this kind of living. This film, too, is excellent and commendable if you haven’t already enjoyed it and will surely enchance your mental health for the New Year. 

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Gwynne Johnson

Gwynne Johnson currently serves on the Board of Entrust, Inc., an international education and training mission where she authored the Entrust curriculum, Developing a Discerning Heart. She recently served as Co-Chair of the training project, Christian Women in Partnership, Russia and as Senior Director of Women's Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. Gwynne has a M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She currently lives in Huntsville, Texas with her husband of 58 years, Don. She works part-time in her daughter and granddaughter's bakery "The Best Box Ever," where she gets paid in cookies.

3 Comments

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    Kim

    Thanks
    This goes hand in hand with what I believe God is showing me right now. The two key words (key words seem to be one of the ways God gets my attention) that seem to be the theme for 2010 are simplicity and purity. Phil 4:8 is such a simple concept, but it is powerful when we choose to implement it as you did when your daughter was late getting home.

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