Summary: Healthful Living
Keep your Head on!
“Just imagine yourself in Barbados!” - Where there is never a dull moment. These are two of the most familiar taglines on advertisements put out by the Barbados Tourism Authority to the world. The posters depict a beautiful blue ocean and white sandy beaches with a gorgeous couple lying on a hammock in the shade of a palm tree’s fronds. The ideas conveyed are that there are no problems in Barbados, that life is sweet and dandy – just like the Mauby Syrup, and that Barbados is the closest thing to paradise on this side of heaven. Tourists come and they just wish that they could spend the rest of their lives in beautiful, beautiful Barbados – the gem of the Caribbean Sea. Everyone in Barbados must be happy right?
However for many persons living on this beautiful island, including many of you in this congregation this morning, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that for many persons there are more problems than we know what to do with; life is hard and wearisome every single day. It is only through the mercies of God that we’ve made it this far. The popular song put it this way, “I almost gave up, I felt like I just couldn’t take life anymore. My problems had me bound, depression weighed me down,” but when we were in that state it was then that “God held us close so that we didn’t let go.” Someone must know what I am talking about!
I know also for a fact, that these experiences do not only belong to persons who are worldly, unspiritual or have no relationship with the Lord. Depression, anxiety, stress, grief, insecurity, regret are all emotions experienced by members of the church as well -what’s intriguing is that the stress is often concealed- especially in our church. We look happy, we smell good, we’re wearing clothes bought on a recent shopping trip to Miami but under the façade we’re hurting and feel like there is no one to help and no way out of our situation. It also doesn’t matter whether the person is a man or a woman. Men would like to portray that tough, macho exterior in order to suggest that nothing bothers them, nothing hurts their feelings, they don’t cry and what’s more they don’t even care but nothing could be further from the truth. Whether we are male or female, we experience threats to our emotional and mental health.
Sometimes these threats can be so great that they prevent us from being able to function. The depressed or worried person can be so crippled by his or her condition that he or she remains home, or if at work, is unable to free the mind for even long enough to be able to accomplish anything at the job. What’s even more is that the person who is mentally unwell may even have difficulty worshipping God freely and sincerely. In the book “Healthful Living on page 54, Sis White makes the following statements: “A diseased body affects the brain. With the mind we serve the Lord. All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain victory over them; for these are the avenues to the soul.”
Life is hard and many living on this small rock in paradise know it. They imagine themselves currently being anywhere else besides Barbados because they wish that they had a dull moment. A moment when the grief, failure, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, self-hatred, vulnerability would be dulled and they would be set free from their stresses.
What is emotional or mental health anyway? Is it just a figment of one’s imagination? A theory purported by weak-minded people who are negative in their outlook and don’t have enough faith in God to bounce back from their trials? Is it actually true that real Christians don’t get depressed or anxious or stressed out and if they do, it’s because they don’t have a real relationship with God?
Today there is an appropriate interest in physical conditions. Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, HIV/AIDS and cancer are all we hear about in the media and it’s what we talk about the most when given the opportunity to present on health. However today I have decided to focus somewhere else, to focus on our mental and emotional health, because this aspect is neglected and many believe that it doesn’t even really exist as a force to determine health outcomes. They believe that you just need to fix your thoughts, read the bible and pray and you will feel alright and be back on your feet. But what is mental/emotional health and how important is it?
One definition reads like this “Emotional health can best be described as a state where you are in control of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. You feel good about yourself and your relationships and can keep problems in perspective. Emotionally healthy people can still have emotional problems and mental illness, but they have learned of ways to cope with stress and problems and know when to seek help from their doctor or counselor”