Pastor Craig took us back to our series on mental health. This is the short recap he shared on his blog. Please scroll down to find the link to watch the video of the full message.
Without a doubt, Jesus had the most robust mental health of anyone who has ever walked planet Earth! Dr. Luke, a trained physician, captures this in just one verse (Luke 2:52) where he talks about how Jesus grew in a wholly healthy way, and Luke lists Christ’s mental health as the first priority.
I’ve already shared five strategies that Christians can employ to enhance their mental health, and I encourage you to check them out here.
Let me share a sixth strategy with you.
I’m sure there have been plenty of times when someone asks you about something you like or dislike or why you do something the way you do, you probably don’t tell them the facts but you tell them a story. We have a story for everything we like, everything we do, and everything we avoid.
It’s good to rehearse these stories and to really listen to them. If we don’t really listen to them, we cannot learn from them; if we don’t learn from them, we rob ourselves of robust mental health.
From some of our stories, there is a regret that comes from three enemies. These enemies are all tied to our stories about our past and they are would’ve, could’ve, and should’ve—“If only I would’ve…” and “Things would be different today if I could’ve…” and “I should’ve known….”
One of the ways we need to talk back to those thoughts is like this, “I only know the would’ve, could’ve, and should’ve now because I’m older and more experienced. I didn’t know those things in the past so it was impossible for me to have done something differently.” Even the apostle Paul noted, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
If we don’t talk back to those regrets of yesterday, we will have doubts about today: Will I make another mistake today? Do I have what it takes to meet today’s challenges? What will others think of me if I mess up? If we don’t address those doubts we have today, that will cause us worry and stress about tomorrow.
Regret … doubt … worry … stress. Those don’t really sound like words that contribute to positive mental health, do they?
Here’s the thing we need to remember—Learning from our yesterdays is healthy, but trying to relive our yesterdays is both unhealthy and unproductive!
Dr. William Osler said, “If the load of tomorrow is added to that of yesterday and carried today, it will make the strongest falter.”
Four times in just ten verses, Jesus told His followers not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34). He ties that worry about tomorrow to having little faith. That lack of faith comes from our doubts, and those doubts come from our past regrets.
T.G.I.F.—thank God it’s Friday!—is an escapism. It’s not wanting to deal with the regrets, doubts, and worry by trying to push them to some distant time. It doesn’t allow us to really concentrate on today. The Bible constantly brings us back to the present.
- Today is used 203 times in the NIV Bible
- Tomorrow is mentioned 56 times
- Yesterday is only used 8 times
Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) so that we won’t let past regrets spiral downward into daily doubts and then anxiety about tomorrow. Elizabeth Elliot wisely counseled, “One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today.”
Christians that want to be mentally healthy should continually replace a T.G.I.F. mindset with T.G.I.T.—thank God it’s today!
Taking a line from Joshua who said, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15), here are four things we need to choose to remember each day.
- Choose to remember that God uses all things—even our would’ve, could’ve, and should’ves—for our good and for His glory (Romans 8:28).
- Choose to forget those old, self-limiting, stress-causing stories (Philippians 3:13).
- Choose to believe that God is doing something new—something I never could have planned (Isaiah 43:18-19).
- Choose to believe that God can help you tell a new story about your past (Genesis 41:51).
You have to choose each day to say “Thank God it’s today! Thank God that I’m not who I was yesterday! Thank God that He is using my would’ve-could’ve-should’ve moments from yesterday to prepare me for today! Thank God that He is teaching me a new story!”
If you’ve missed any of the previous messages in our series on a Christian’s mental health, you can find them all here.