Friday, March 1, 2024

FAMILY FUSION: Crippling mental health problem (3)


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“Exceptionally hard decisions can deplete your energy to the point at which you finally cave in. If you mentally crumble and degenerate into negative thinking, you’ll magnify the problem to the point where it can haunt you.” – John C. Maxwell

THE HUMAN BRAIN is the first computer that was ever made, thanks to the all-wise, all-knowing Creator. It is a complex and fascinating network of creative tissues that still baffles curiosity.

Mankind, with all of his ingenuity and development in computer technology, is still at a basic level in seeking to produce anything like it. When the brain is functioning as it is intended, there are no limits to what it can generate.

On the other hand, if it is not performing well due to external or internal factors, it can malfunction and create what is referred to as mental health challenges, which have the potential of impeding the individual’s progress in life.

Some of these challenges could range from mild to chronic necessitating the right kind of specialist to diagnose and resolve the issue, as long as the individual is willing to be helped.

For the last two weeks I have been addressing a mental health concern that was psychosomatic in nature. The scenario is found in the Holy Bible in the fifth chapter of the Gospel according to St John verses 2-14, where this man had developed physical symptoms as a result of 38 years of thinking that he was ill. He wasted almost 40 years of his life in a protracted state of lethargy, and refused to develop his God-given innate capabilities.

Jesus confronted him and asked if he wanted not just his body healed, but more so his entire personality. After making a number of excuses, he finally accepted and began to put Jesus’ counsel into action in order to resolve his almost four-decade mental health predicament.

Here are four radical steps Jesus challenged the man to adopt to get his life in order.

Firstly he told the man to “get up”.

This expression “get up” in this context means to collect one’s faculties. In essence, Jesus was saying that his problem was mental in nature and required this man to change his negative mindset to a positive one.

He was challenging him to move away from negative thinking so that his life could become productive. It is of great interest to note that Jesus never touched him, but only spoke to him. The onus was on the man to break himself free from mental bondage that sabotaged his mental faculties for a large period of his life.

I love what John Piper said: “Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company. . . You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope.” Powerful.

Secondly he told him to “pick up his bed”.

This next step was significant. Jesus was saying that it was time for him to get rid of what had kept him in this state of sickness. The bed here was more than something physical. It was symbolic of the man’s state of mind indicative of his comfort level.

In a practical way, Jesus also wanted this man to take charge of the physical crutch that he depended on for so many years, and carry it rather than it carrying him. The man obeyed and his dependency syndrome was broken. What a lesson.

Thirdly he told him to “walk”.

The word “walk” in this context means to live, to regulate one’s life. In essence, Jesus was encouraging the man to take advantage of opportunities that would come in his direction.Jesus was letting him know that setting goals for his life will give him a great sense of direction from now on, charting a path that could only lead to his growth and development. It is also noteworthy that the word “walk” conveys an ongoing action. Jesus was telling the man to “keep on walking, never deviate from your positive path”.

Philosopher and author Henry David Thoreau once said, “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

Fourthly he told him to clean up his act.

He advised him to “sin no more”. The interesting thing about the word ‘sin’ is that it carries the meaning of someone “missing the mark”. Jesus was telling him that for 38 years he had been doing the wrong thing with his life and accomplishing absolutely nothing. This man was missing the right path for his life and ended up in a chronic mental health mess.

When Jesus spoke to him on this occasion, the man had apparently left his old friends and his bed behind and had taken the initiative to get his life back on track. He had found a new set of people with whom he had started to associate. He started to go to church. Jesus warned him that if he went back into that mental health state, a worse thing could come on him.

Jim Rohn hit the nail on the head when he said, “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”

Changing from a negative way of life that you have learnt to enjoy can be sometimes painful, but it becomes necessary for dynamic living.

• Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email:


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