Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest– Jesus
I’ll be honest, I used to think that ” I’m taking a mental health day” was just an empty phrase made up by millennials to get out of their responsibilities. I recall the somewhat recent event from the Olympics when gymnast Simone Biles stepped out of competition for “A mental health issue”. I admit that I was a bit critical of the decision, having grown up in the just suck it up generation. Push through. Tough it out. You’ll get through this. All phrases from said generation. “I’m a bit of a boomer/gen x’er, depending on what dates you use to classify it.)
That is, until recently when I began a new temporary job. I found myself needing a “Mental health day” And I can completely sympathize now with Simone Biles and others. Smart people recognize their limitations, both physically and mentally. It’s not a weakness, but rather a humbleness. We cannot do everything, or be everything to others without it showing up in our physical bodies or in our mental state.
We are not just spiritual or just physical, but as I and others believe more of a tripart being: spirit, soul (mind, will and emotions) and physical. All three work together and when one part suffers, the others will follow. For example if we are feeling stressed or anxious, often we will feel physical symptoms such as tightness in our neck, headaches and even stomach issues. Those who have panic attacks often describe them as feeling like a heart attack. The symptoms we experience are all trying to tell us there is something wrong. Something we must deal with. It is amazing to ponder how God has created our bodies to work in unison. We only need to listen to our bodies. And also understand what they are saying. We can cover up our symptoms through medicines, but what we really need is to give ourselves a break and time to stop and work through what is the root cause of our physical and emotional issues.
This takes time and prayer. We can’t rush through the process. We must learn to slow down at times and give our problems to God. Jesus promises to give us rest, but are we taking Him up on the offer?
This world is constantly moving at a faster and faster pace. We are being expected to perform our duties as if we were automated robots. No wonder there are so many robotic uses in the work place- robots do not need mental health days. Artificial intelligence can function without emotion- although I wonder if it will become so perfect in its imitation of the human brain, that someday it will experience mental fatigue and need a break. Probably not, but even self- driving cars make errors and cause accidents- because they cannot account for human beings on the road.
It is interesting to me that as I am understanding the need for my own mental health, I have been reading a book by author Bonnie Gray- “Finding Spiritual Whitespace”. I admit at first I didn’t get the title of the book. What is white space? I thought. But, let me recommend this book if you have been going through any type of anxiety or panic attacks. I am nearing the end of the book, and I am realizing that I need to allow Jesus to help carry my burdens. It easy to say that. Or write about it as I am doing here in this blog, but in reality, I’m still trying to carry it by myself.
Unlike all the garden flags and bumper stickers that keep telling me”God’s Got This” (a left over from Covid lock down days here in the US), what I keep saying silently, to myself is “I got this!” . When in realty; I don’t got this. Yes, sorry for the bad English grammar. When I began to feel physically sick, I needed to heed the warnings; take a break, and prepare my heart to listen. Quiet my soul, shut the world out and just wait to hear from God.
As I have counseled others in the past in similar situations, some jobs are just not worth it. If it means selling your soul and letting your physical body and your spirit keep taking the punches wielded at you. Life is hard to be sure. It is not an easy place to live out our lives in the fallen world we are calling a temporary home. There are days of difficulty. There will be pain, heartache and stress that we cannot control. But if we are smart we will not try to deal with it on our own. We will give it to Jesus and not be afraid to rest- even if that means taking a mental health day. If you still do not like that phrase, then call it a spiritual health day. Your mind, spirit and body will thank you and you will be more effective for the Kingdom. – God Bless- Nancy