I have been exploring the ingredients in my own Mental Health First Aid Kit in recent weeks. Over the past three weeks I looked at these three ingredients on my own kit:
- Contact details of people will be there for you in a crisis
- The power of music on your emotions
- Inspirational sayings that can encourage you
The next item I am going to share is for me one of the most important. Now not everyone will choose to put comforting and upbuilding scriptures in their MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT. It’s up to you what you put in your kit remember, it’s supposed to help you in a mental health emergency. If you don’t find the scriptures comforting, well, I imagine you would not think to add them to your mental health first aid kit. But for me personally, the scriptures have had an enormous impact on my decisions in life and have been a powerful impetus to me whenever I faced challenges.
Beliefs are personal, yet at the same time they have a knock-on effect to those around us. I have sometimes found certain beliefs unpalatable when it comes to attitudes towards the suffering of others. When I hear people voice notions such as “it’s karma repaying them” or “they must have done something to deserve this” or “this is divine punishment”…I am baffled. Whilst our decisions and habits have consequences, some of the tragedies we encounter have no link at all to any action of ours and are certainly not deliberately arranged by our Creator.
Perhaps just as harmful are comments directed towards someone who is enveloped in pain or grief such as “your faith is weak”. It’s like saying to someone who has been in a major traffic accident and whose bones are broken and shattered “you need to go for a run every morning to get the endorphins flowing and then you will feel better”. There are too many well-meaning advisors who end up trivialising a mental health breakdown by voicing a belief that shows up as inaccurate, unloving, and without a solid foundation.
I am so glad I was able to have some time to recover from my trauma, shielded from people who could say anything like that to me when I was in the midst of the painful challenges that wreaked havoc on my life. Throughout that time, I found more than ever it was important to listen directly to my Creator, and not to people who think they know Him, but actually unwittingly contribute to spreading slanderous lies about Him.
After I was assaulted and left for dead…, and then taken to hospital for urgent medical treatment, I was at the same time bombarded with questions from police and hospital staff. It was awful. Absolutely awful. At the time, I was alone (well apart from the professionals buzzing around me) and I did not know who I could call. I have already mentioned in a previous post that my closest friends and sister were not available when I had wanted to talk to them the day before. Now I had this extra horrific challenge, I felt so desperately alone.
But something rather strange happened to me. The mind is a funny old thing. Sometimes, we are plagued by unwanted thoughts. But when I was in one of the most intensely stressful situations of my life, feeling desperately alone, not knowing who I could turn to for support…my mind began to recall words that were penned three thousand years ago.
I could recall every word of Psalm 139 – every single word. It was as if a voice, not actually my voice, was reciting those beautiful words to me. I particularly remember the power that certain parts of Psalm 139 imparted.
Verses 15,16 reminded me that I was not alone, and there was somebody who knew me better than anybody else, than any other friend. He had known me since before my mumma knew I even existed. He had watched me developing hidden away, as just a few cells multiplying miraculously.
Verse 12 told me that even though this seemed like the darkest day of my life, and even though the stress over the past two years centered around Jack and the bullying, harassment, slander and trolling from all these thoughtless people had darkened my outlook and made me feel despair….well, to my Creator, the darkness that that had encaged me was not too much for Him. He could banish the darkness. He could see clearly, as clear as daylight, how to bring me through this trial.
I also remember receiving a card from a colleague who shared with me some very sweet thoughts of her own, and a scripture that she said had comforted her. In fact, I thought about that word “crushed” a lot. I had been crushed by the oppressive effect of slander and malicious gossip, cruelty and coldness from people I thought were my friends. My colleague shared a scripture in Psalm 34:18 which spoke to my heart. I knew that when I was in one of the worst situations imaginable – laying in a hospital bed after a brutal crime committed against me, I had felt my Creator was extraordinarily close. I felt as if I was wrapped up in His arms.
Since that astonishingly trying and traumatic period of my life, I have added more scriptures to my own personal MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT. But I mentioned those above, because they were the ones that flooded into my mind when I was on my darkest day, and the ones that meant the most as I recovered.
If you find the scriptures comfort you, then collect some of the verses that touch you most deeply and add them to your Mental Health First Aid Kit. But interestingly, when you are actually in the midst of a challenge, you may be surprised at which words from your Creator come to mind. It’s as if His power in action, His Holy Spirit, has searched for the words your eyes may have read years ago and are hidden away in your mind, and then when needed, our Creator can bring those words back to the fore of your thoughts and help you to focus on His words, comfort penned thousands ago by men inspired by their Creator to record what we would need whilst facing momentous challenges in these trialsome times.
People, even well-meaning people who have a faith, can sometimes voice words that crush you…so you may find like I did, that for a while you just need to allow your Creator to gently comfort you as you heal and recover from trauma.