6 things That I have learned from my mental health journey

About 5 years ago, I completely faceplanted.
It wasn’t glorious. It was painful, and I was a mess.

I was unsure of what to do as I saw my life coming undone.
…. but what I did know is that I knew that I was unwilling to continue to living life the way that I had chosen to live it for so many years.
I did what I knew what to do, I sought out pastoral counsel, and hired a biblical counselor to walk me through that season of life.

My first session with the biblical counselor was interesting. He completed a spiritual assessment and seemed more interested in my daily spiritual practices than with knowing about the problem at hand. His prescription for me included scripture memorization and answering a worksheet of close-ended questions that were most appropriately answered with simple Sunday School styled answers.

At that moment of time, I was open to anything. I didn’t take into consideration that I struggled with memorization of any kind. My learning style makes it easy for me to learn processes and concepts. Nevertheless, word for word regurgitation is difficult for me. So I struggled.

My biblical counselor had no difficulty sharing his disappointment in my inability to memorize scripture. He didn’t approve of how I had created flashcards with the assigned verses, created screensavers with them, or journaled them into prayer. He also didn’t appreciate that I was unable to write a one-page essay for each of the reflection questions that he had provided to me. When I pointed out that each of the questions was closed-ended and was not designed to provoke any form of critical thinking, he would tell me that I was unwilling to accept responsibility for my course of life.

During our last session, I was unable to recite the 5 assigned verses, word by word, as he required. At that point, he lost it and began to yell at me. He told me that people who were unwilling to memorize God’s word would become murders, child molesters, and ultimately burn in hell.
At that point, I knew that his personal convictions were not based on reality and that meeting with him was causing more harm to me than good.

Since then, I have worked hard on building up my emotional and mental health.
These are some of the things that have benefited me.

1. Counseling with a reputable and licensed counselor- I now take the time to review a counselor’s education, clinical approach, and reviews prior to making an appointment with one. I also use our first appointment to assess whether we are a good fit for each other.

2. Solid reciprocal relationships- I have come to the understanding that I desire to have, and am deserving of, solid relationships that reciprocate love, time, and energy. I am no longer willing to overly invest in one-sided connections.

3. Purpose and value-based living: Becoming clear about my values and purpose allow me to say “Yes” to the things that matter and “No” to the things that don’t. I’ve learned that I’m not obligated to show up for people, places, and activities that are not in alignment with whom I am choosing to be in this world. Setting boundaries is my jam!

4. Holistic Healthy Living– I’ve learned than my physical health impacts my mental health. Therefore a healthy diet, exercise, and restful sleep are important to me.

5. Contemplative spirituality- I’m still a man of faith. However, I now choose to experience God in the stillness of life. I start each day with a practice of Lectio Divina and centering prayer. I have found that experiencing God in silence is just, if not more, soul-filling than a churchy laser-light show.

6. Sharing my journey– I spent the first 38 years of my life under a blanket of shame due to the challenges that I faced in my life. Now I choose to share my journey unapologetically. Doing this opens the door for others to share their perceived inadequacies and creates a space for continued healing.

Being a human is a beautiful thing. A human is exactly what God created me to be.

Happy World Mental Health Day!

John Eli
Coach for Humans
[BD²] • Be • Dream • Believe • Do •

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4 Comments

    1. I love God’s word, but struggle memorizing it word for word. If you ask me about anything biblical I can tell you where to find it quite easily. I remember biblical history well too. I just quote in a KJV/NLT/NIV remix because I’ve been listening to all three version most of my life. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Certainly Jesus didn’t require the memorization of scripture . I’m sorry that you got that kind of counsel. The Bible can lift us up, inspire and encourage us, but until we have a real relationship with God we will just spin our wheels. May God bless your journey. Wanting to change is an important step in the right direction❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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