As part of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, we want to share with you a blog written by Mercy counselor Leslie Lamb MS, NCC, LPC.
One of the things that I tell my clients most regularly is this: “Freedom doesn’t mean never walking the same path again.”
What does that mean? Well, it means that when we break free from deeply rooted hurts and mindsets, they don’t just disappear. The people that provoked them don’t go away. Life and relationships don’t just magically improve. Freedom requires walking back into the life that hurt you and the fear that plagued you and using the tools and resources that helped you through the first time to help you the third, fourth, and fifth time. It just means that we know the SOURCE of freedom, and we firmly identify with a new way of thinking and therefore living our lives, changing the outcome from one of hurt to one of healing.
Four Ways to Keep Walking in Freedom
At Mercy, we have discovered that there are four things that aid us in keeping that walk secure or can support us in those moments when we are struggling with our mental health: Prayer (talking to God about what you are feeling and what you are going through and waiting for His response), Reading the Word (whether that is looking over scriptures that speak to your circumstances or reading to discover more of who God is), Staying in community (this can be the church as a whole or just a tribe of people who love you and encourage you to stay engaged and connected) and Staying in accountability (having someone who knows you and can be known by you, to support you and challenge you to keep moving forward).
I believe it helps that there are four because we need a failsafe in those more difficult times to ensure that we have more than one way to get back on track.
The Weight of Intention
The problem that comes up most often for those who have successfully completed counseling but have slipped back into old habits is not understanding the weight of INTENTION.
We assume that we will shift into habit, but the reality is that habit can easily shift to default, which is lack of intention. If I want to change and remain changed, I have to keep being intentional about doing the things that help me. If I discover that taking a walk makes me feel better, I can’t take one walk and expect to always feel good any more than I can expect to read the Bible once or pray once or seek accountability once or in one season of my life and never have another issue. I have to be intentional about keeping priority on those things that help me feel better, those things that connect me to hope and truth and love, or they will fall to the wayside with distractions or weakness or discouragement.
Over and over, I have seen the wealth of goodness and health and wholeness that comes from choosing to be intentional. Mindfulness is a huge buzzword in our culture, but it is more than just meditation and being present. It is about thinking about where I am and where I want to go and being proactive about the choices that I make instead of doing what I feel like when I feel like it. Too easily, we disengage the mind from our processes and follow our emotions; this ends up hurting us.
Lamentations 3:23 says this: “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.”
If you find yourself struggling, or maybe you completely fell off the tracks, the good news is that tomorrow is another day, the next five minutes await, and you are one choice away from turning it all around! Too often, we give up in the middle of the chapter and somehow become convinced that we can’t turn the page. That’s a lie. Turn the page. Make the call. Take the risk to engage. Freedom IS a choice!
Mercy Multiplied exists to provide opportunities for all to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power. We offer multiple programs and resources online and onsite designed to equip people to live free and stay free in Christ. For more information about the services we offer, click here.