How far can we rely on thoughts and feelings? Is everything we think and feel a suitable guide to regulating our behaviour? If you have had a taste of mind illness, you will know that neither of these aspects to our psyche are 100% reliable, and can easily be warped and twisted against us.
Someone pointed out, that just because we may think something, does not make it true. It seems so obvious, but we can get caught up in the web of analysis and the search for meaning, that we forget the most straightforward things. Even as we read the scriptures, we can apply the words and sentiments in all sorts of false ways, and get ourselves in a real mess about our relationship with God.
As we think and sometimes over-think issues, we can find ourselves in the vortex of despair, sinking down into the “truth” of our own thoughts and attendant feelings, and reach conclusions that are completely unrelated to reality, or what God teaches us in the scriptures.
I have come to realize that there are truths and “false-truths.” There is guilt and “false-guilt” and it is a crucial skill to recognize and learn the difference and to see the warning signs of a way of thinking that destroys us and leads us in a pathway that is full of error.
How can we tell the difference? When the mind is a certain way and has a particular bent, it colours everything that goes on in it, and leads the person down into progressive unreliability. How can we keep myself safe from that way of thinking?
The difficulty is that the mind-set influences what we think and judge and feel. Even the most comforting words from the scriptures, can be used by our minds to torment and condemn. It is very difficult. When the mind is working a particular way, it is difficult to get above it or get a balanced and external view of what is going on.
This is very hard to sort out, a bit like muddled knitting and requires patience with ourselves and trying to be more objective in our analysis. It is easy to be led the wrong way because you think you “see” so clearly! You have to humble yourself and rely on reliable people to guide you.
Friends who are Christians and live by the scriptures, can also say things you need to hear. But the over arching rock and the base-line truths are in the Scriptures. There is no way out apart from them. If we seek God, he will teach us and bring to remembrance His precious truth…
“I am the Lord, I change not” Malachi 3:6 KJV He cannot love you one day and not the next.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV He will bring you safely through this event and you will look back and see it correctly. You will be able to praise Him..!!
“Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV He will be with you no matter what the doubts may be and lead you safely home.
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2 NIV You can hide in Him, even if you don’t feel you are in Him. He will never let you down.
“He binds up the broken hearted and heals their wounds” Psalm 147:3 NIV We don’t feel it now as we go through the tunnel or darkness, or know the experience of God’s felt presence comforting us, but He will bring us through and heal our hearts and minds. Then you will know that He is real and able to keep you.
The scriptures are full of these promises. When you are ill, a lot of false guilt is about, because of the negativity of the illness and the aspect of your mind at that series of moments, but it will lift and you will see clearly. The valley of the shadow does not last forever, though we may be required to walk it for a prolonged period of time.
If there are things in your life that you know are wrong, and you feel guilty about them, perhaps this is a good time to face up and get it sorted out. We do harbour attitudes and learned responses that must be addressed if we are to make progress in the Way. Repentance brings instant joy from the Lord.
We do not need to incessantly agonise over our faults and failings. When they are identified, and we really want them dealt with, we can bring them to God.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9 NIV God hears the penitent heart that come to Him in repentance and He forgives and puts the sins away forever. That’s it!
The trouble is, we trot them out, over and over and torment ourselves with them. Perhaps we do not believe that God will actually forgive us. Perhaps we think we are a unique case, that cannot be forgiven!!
Perhaps we are harbouring pride and think we are too sinful, or too special…
We must let go of our foolish ideas and exercise faith in the God who has already saved us and kept us over the years.
The path of pleasantness and peace is submission to our Saviour and God and facing our true guilt squarely and honestly before God, and walking through each day in reliance and faith, that He will carry out His promises toward us and give us whatever we need to conquer hardship and trouble.
It is putting to death the false ideas about God and ourselves, and to fight against the desire to rehearse faults and failings and cruelty towards our own souls. The book of Proverbs tells us that “A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” Proverbs 11:17 NIV
We are not supposed to damage ourselves either physically or in our minds or emotions, and the remedy is to know that Christ loves us beyond measure, and we must care for ourselves and not hurt ourselves with self made torture… “Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself!” Acts 16:28 NIV
Often we can find ourselves in a mind-set that is kindly and sympathetic to others, but we are the opposite towards ourselves. This should not be. God does not treat us like that, and neither should we. Of course the restless mind then takes that up and we have another blaming session or a pity party, taking us down again into the depths.
Mind troubles are hard to bear and very hard to learn how to cope with and find a balanced way, but not impossible. As a Christian you have all the tools, that is, the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, who’s nature and words are love, and other Christian people who know you and know God’s word and can help you think about it properly. Even if you don’t have understanding people, the power of God is enough, the scriptures are open to you, and the Holy Spirit will guide and teach in all righteousness.
God will never let you go. He cannot, because of these self-same promises. We must believe them and believe Him, and learn to revel in the fact that you are one of His people, your sins are gone and He will bring you safely home, at the right time.