Rick Warren

A National Mental Illness Awareness Week Blog for College Kids, Children and the Faithful

Arcadia Bluffs, MI

Arcadia Bluffs, MI

It's Mental Illness Awareness Week so I'm just going to call out the issue and give it the attention it needs. Mental illness is not something that can be treated with willpower or positive thinking alone. It must be confronted. The struggle must be addressed with the individual and professionals that know what they are doing. Being stuck in our minds is a dangerous place to be and those of us who struggle need to know that a little help navigating our way through it is a good thing. We must not let the judgement of people who don't know stop us from getting the help we need.

First of all, a shout out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for the work they are doing. I love that they've got a page specifically for advising college students on how to address mental health issues. It is not an easy thing to work on when everything is about having it all together, i.e. grades, social life and future aspirations. I had no idea that I struggled in college with my mental health until I went back for grad school and started to confront my mental health and addiction head on. But I had to go away to get help and a lot of schools don't support offsite treatment. Mental health is not an easy issue to tackle so kudos to any student and/or leader that is wiling to do so. It's worth it. College kids are under a lot of pressure and need this to be one of their top priorities in college. I found a great article last night on the issue of the mental health crisis on college campuses. Click here to read.

Speaking of students, today also happens to be National Child Health Day, as recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services. Why is this important? Because children need attention for their mental health. Their minds are just as much a part of them that needs to be healthy as their bodies. Many people don't address their mental health until the adult years when it becomes too much to bear, or they hit a bottom with an addiction of life circumstance. What we need to do is show kids that it's okay if your mind doesn't feel like it's working right and more importantly, recognize that if they've got other issues with their health, i.e. weight - that maybe there is something way more to it than what you see. Also today kids go through so much - trauma is very present in their lives sadly. Whether it's something at home like broken families, death of a loved one, or abuse or at school like bullying - there are many things that can traumatize a kid. The sooner we throw the mental health into the mix, the better off we'll be. Believe me, if I had realized when I was trying to get to the bottom of obesity working at Health and Human Services for the Secretary, that mental health played such a huge factor in the whole picture I would have focused more on that, than how we're addressing obesity. Obesity - inside job - including mental and emotional health.

Finally I give much kudos to Pastor Rick Warren, his wife Kay and Saddleback Church for hosting the "Gathering on Mental Health and the Church" this week from October 7-9th. I'm hoping to catch the free live webcast on the 8th at 8:30 am PST. They are truly using the tragic loss of their child to suicide to change the landscape on how we address mental health in the church. That is powerful. In no way was their tragedy a good thing, but they are letting God use it for good and that is a good thing. (Speaking of powerful - today was supposed to be a post on the Pope (lol). It is done but this seemed to be more crucial timing for today/week. Check back tomorrow.)

Mental health is an issue SO unaddressed in our society, it's sad. Many people think, "Get over it," simply because they can't see your struggle on the outside. In a way, it's much like obesity. People say, "Just don't eat it," not realizing how much goes on the inside that leads them to make those food choices. Those of us that have to treat our mental health - willingly I might add (big difference from those who don't), know that it's not easy and probably takes more work than anything we've had to do in our lives. But if you address it - you know it's worth the work.

More importantly, I can say the single thing that has transformed my mental health is the power of God in my life. He has come into my heart and through the process of spiritual transformation - began to heal my soul. The Bible says in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." It is the Word that give me that renewal. Addressing my mental health, treating it, and maintaining it are a part of my life today. Walking the road of recovery from addiction is how I walk towards God. It keeps me going. It's where he meets me every day in my willingness. It's where my relationship with Him begins, because he is the one who has the power to renew my mind. The people that have come into my life to help me professionally and relationally have been absolute gifts, and reminders that God wants what is best for me.

Mental Illness must be taken just as seriously as physical illness. It doesn't matter that we can't see it. What we must not do is judge it when we see it. For none of us know the struggles that someone goes through inside their mind. I pray for all of those who are on the road to recovery from mental illness and all those still suffering in resistance or lack of knowledge, to know that there is hope. May we all find a way to look towards the light.

P.S. For those college kids who will be connecting with me on Friday, this is what we're talking about!!

Have a great week you all. Check back for the pope blog and a message on Wednesday about why it's okay to feel our feelings!!!

"Are you content?", A Monday Healthy Voice Perspective and Weekend Reflection

I don't know what the weekend service at your church was about, but ours was "It's Never Enough" from the Series titled, "The Elephant in the Room: Getting Past Your Fears of Generosity." Josh King, our church's Director of Discipleship led it and did a great job. He said "The elephant in the room isn't money but our fears about money," and fear brings "cowardly paralysis or courageous pursuit" - one of the two. He taught about money in a way that I love to talk about "healthy", breaking down the world's perspective vs. God's perspective. One of the points he made was with the world your gain is material wealth and with God your gain is contentment. 

Now, let me give you perspective on where I'm going with this, based on some of the experiences I had leading up to that service last week and weekend...

Right now, I'm listening to a podcast series called "Financial Fitness" with Rick Warren. This week while I was working out I listened to this Law of Contentment. Pastor Rick speaks of four keys to this law. 1) Stop comparing yourself to others, 2) Enjoy what you have, 3) Life is not about things, 4) Focus on what will last forever.

Stop Comparing yourself. All you have to do with this one is go to Facebook and look at who has got more of what you want. My friend Margaret and I were talking about this Friday, the different people we've had to drop on Facebook because of how triggering it is with all the places they are going and everything they have. Then I told her, I think we need to change our perspective on this. These people may have a lot but I was listening to a podcast this week that made me realize how much we need to realize the abundance of what we have. I asked her, "Are you content?" "Yes," she said. Of course we want more. But that's just human. The question is are you going to say, "I want what they have?" or realize, "I've got everything I need that God has given me." Are you so busy comparing your life and everything you have or don't have to others on Facebook that you can't see what you do have? SO many things. 

Enjoy what you have. The other week my husband and I went to pick up a bookshelf at a friend's house who was moving away. Now this house was absolutely beautiful - unique in so many ways and well loved. It wasn't just a structure. You couldn't see how special it was from the outside. But one you got inside, you were blown away. I left that place and I wanted it that minute. I wanted to move there yesterday. I remarked how a few years ago I would have almost expected it and had a temper tantrum if I didn't get it. But the reality, was that at this moment it's not a reality for us financially. I stared at the pics for a while imagining how I could make it ours. But you know what came to me the most? God will provide. He always provides. He's got something planned that fits us and that just might be staying put, and I'm okay with that. What a perspective.

Life is not about things. Amen to that. The other night my husband and stepdaughter were having a talk about money (theme again!). Both of them are very present to the face that life is about relationships and experiences more than things. My stepdaughter said, "I'd so much rather buy a cup of coffee with a friend and have an experience than go to the mall and buy a piece of clothing." (So proud!) Does that mean she doesn't want things? No. We were watching Kardashians last night and she told me the one daughter is wearing bracelets that are $6,000 a piece! I mean who wouldn't love to carry those Cartier masterpieces on your arm? (Even though someone could chop it off and buy a car for that much!) They are very nice but our goal as individuals isn't to make enough money so we can get those bracelets. Our goal is to be happy and I think we both know, as well as my husband that when it comes down to it - those "things" we want, we want, but we don't NEED. Our happiness comes from something greater.

Focus on what will last forever. I have had the chance to have a lot of things in my life. I enjoyed being able to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. But today, that's not something I can do, and I am truly okay with that. I'm only okay with that because it's not the world's "gain of material wealth" that I'm focused on, but a "gain of contentment" in my relationship with God. Why? Because I know there isn't one thing out there, or amount of money that could fill the hole that only God can fill in relationship. That gives me peace. That makes me know that when I have nothing, I have everything. It makes me know that when I'm working towards something, that God WILL provide in His time. 

I am grateful to know where true abundance, peace and contentment lies. I don't just know it in my head. I know it in my heart. So if I'm stuck resenting someone whose got more than me I just remind myself how much God has given me and continues to give me everyday. Does it mean it never happens? No. But -- I've got the antidote, and it's a lot more than things...

In the service yesterday, Josh posted a C.S. Lewis quote: "The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become." This morning my stepdaughter had one posted on Instagram also by C.S. Lewis, "If we find ourselves with a desire nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world." (One called eternity. The things of this world are not our ultimate joy!)

On the way to the service yesterday, it's funny - because Mike and I were talking about that wanting more concept. In the program we call it "the disease of more." I believe we ALL have that. As humans we always want more, especially in a world that's constantly tempting us with it. Addicts just take it to a little bit more of an extreme I guess.

Anyway as we're driving, having this conversation and in the background is playing the song, "What We Ain't Got" by Jake Owen. The sadness of this song (and the video) points boldly to this human condition of wanting what we don't have. 

Here's the funny part, we're driving home from church and I hear this lyric: "I got everything I need nothing that I don't, everything I need, nothing that I don't." I know it's Zac Brown Band and I run inside to see the name of the song. "Homegrown." Hearing it wrapped up the whole message I was hearing from last week up until the service on Sunday.

 It's ALL About Contentment and realizing we've got everything we need. Yes, we're going to want what we don't have. We're human. It's just a matter of deciding to fear that we don't have enough or fear and trust that God's got a plan, cause we've GOT everything we need.

In fact, if we know God, we've got more than we can ever imagine.

(Both videos are below. If you are curious there is also an awesome version of Homegrown from SNL but posting this one for you to see lyrics.)

Also, here is 1 Timothy 6: 6-12, ESV that you can reflect on this week. The "love of money" is a whole other issue but just remember it's not money itself but the love of it. 

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of this world. But if we have food and clothing with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into the root of destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving, that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, oh man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called...