By Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley, CHM Board of Directors
Editor’s note: This information was published in the September 2018 issue of Heartfelt Magazine, CHM’s monthly magazine that provides CHM membership-related tips and tricks, medical advice from doctors, testimonies from CHM members, and more. Please refer to the CHM Guidelines and applicable web pages for the most up-to-date information regarding CHM membership, sharing eligibility, and ministry news.
Anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges affect many people, even Christians. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that one in five people are affected by a mental health challenge each year. God created us as integrated human beings, and our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing are all connected.
You’ve probably read the Scripture, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Renewing is a process that we must continuously engage in.
However, this article is not about available mental health treatments. Instead, it’s about the things you and I can do ourselves to aid in the transforming of our minds.
Years ago in my high-school computer class we were taught “garbage in, garbage out” (GI-GO). If one hole in an 80-column paper punch card wasn’t right, the computer program wouldn’t run.
Your mind works similarly. If you want the “output” of positive, godly, courageous, kind, and helpful thoughts and emotions, choose that kind of mental “input.” That’s what Philippians 4:8 talks about: choosing to think about what is honest, true, lovely, pure, of a good report, etc.
God knew this all along; He created our minds, after all.
Consider the social media, magazines, music, TV shows and other input you consume. If your mind needs to transform, changing what you feed your mind is a great place to start.
Keep the right kind of company
The late motivational speaker and entrepreneur Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It’s true: you’re likely to display similar values, financial success, religious and political views, level of positivity, etc., as the people you hang out with.
Jesus did not spend His time equally with everyone. You, too, can choose the people you allow to influence you. Some people—sometimes unintentionally—drag you down simply by being in their presence. Limit your time around them. Others lift you up and draw out the best in you; invest often in those relationships.
Pay attention to the kind of people who are closest to you. Make sure the friends you spend the most time with are the kind of people you want to be more like.
Soak in God’s Word
Prior to marrying my husband, Al, I spent months soaking in Song of Solomon and it changed my preparedness for marriage. After Al’s death I focused on Paul’s treatise on death and resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15—and it changed my grief journey.
When facing challenges like fear, bitterness, poor self-image, lust, money troubles, grief, worry, marriage conflict or any other issue, delving into what the Bible has to say about a specific struggle will change you. Soak in God’s word. Spend time reading and contemplating it. Let the power of Scripture penetrate your soul, wash out the junk and fill you to overflowing with God’s truth and grace.
If your mind needs transformation, pay attention to the media, the people and the Scripture you take in. You’ll experience a different kind of GI-GO: God in, God out.
Editor’s note: Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley, M.D., D.Min., is a board-certified OB/GYN and ordained minister who serves on the CHM Board of Directors. Dr. Carol’s website is drcarolministries.com.