The present global pandemic has heightened unsurmountable chaos within and across nations, bringing out the best and worst, in and among people. While some work with prescribed guidelines, braving the consequences and reaching out to sufferers who lack daily sustenance for themselves and their families, others diligently stay cooped up indoors in adherence to the law and the lockdown regulations. Amidst all this, we hear reports of the rampant rise in domestic crime and self-destructive behaviour. Coping with the ‘new norm,’ has proven to be challengingly difficult for some and more fatal for others.
Even as we face the stark reality of this present crisis, we cannot deny that for centuries, many people have, and continue to go through mental health problems. Most often, mild symptoms are unconsciously resolved while others are there to stay. In some cases, milder symptoms become more pronounced, conspicuous and sometimes uncontrollable over time, landing the individual in a specialised institution to the care of experts, others to the confinement of a tucked away room within their own home and still others even land themselves on the streets. Various traceable and unknown factors as well, contribute to the mental and emotional imbalances, more so among teens and young adults these days, and has become a thing of great concern to many parents.
As a parent of two young men and a teenager, and with adequate experience among youth, I have had the privilege to some extent, of entering their world of perspectives. Their fears and anxieties are deathly real! The pressures they face, feel much bigger than their minds can handle. Their vulnerable and impressionable minds can crack at the hint of one thoughtless remark or hurtful comment, especially from the ones closest to them. On the other hand, they sometimes respond with resistance to our genuine affections and concerns. The truth is that true parenting was never meant to be a ‘cakewalk’, especially if we desire to see our children grow in physical, emotional, and mental stability like Jesus did.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52).
Many external factors contribute heavily to the mental well-being of individuals, with the media playing a considerably huge role. Despite all the benefits that media offers, its untethered use can wreak havoc especially on young tender minds. Besides this, my conversations with some young children indicated that their parents seem frozen in time, unwilling to think outside of their timelines, leaving no room for neutrality even on seemingly harmless matters. The heated battle of power and position versus priorities and passions can eventually result in a cold war of painful battles of the mind.
While governments, welfare organisations and concerned parents, brainstorm the possibilities of particularly addressing and resolving this issue, it is imperative that we examine the powerful testimonials in the Bible, of people who experienced release, after their hearts and minds were held captive for many years. In the extreme case of the infamous demon-possessed man in Mark 5:15, we read of how he was transformed and was seen ‘seated there, clothed in his right mind’. In John 4:46-47 we read of a noble man, a desperate father who begs Jesus to heal his dying son and experiences the miracle for himself. The Gospels narrate several instances of healing and restoration. Jesus promised his disciples then, and still extends that same promise to us today. The responsibility of raising our children free of loneliness, abuse, negativity, depression, and many other struggles can greatly weigh us down and rob us of our sleep and peace. God did not intend for us to face this humungous task all alone. He desires for us to display to our children, the source of our peace and sound mind. They need to see that their parents love the Lord their God not just with words, but with their heart soul and mind! Many of the challenges we and our children face from day to day are inevitable. However, showing our children how we rise above them with God’s enabling, is crucial to how they will face up to theirs.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).
Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37).
As I began to conclude this article, I threw a question at my fifteen-year-old. “What would you consider as the key to a child’s healthy mind?” His prompt reply was, “Parents with healthy minds!” On asking him to elaborate, he used the example of a flight attendant’s instructions before take-off. He emphasised the ‘oxygen mask rule’ just in case the cabin loses air pressure. We are to first put on our own oxygen mask before trying to help anyone else. I thought his was in fact an insightful example. Apparently, the idea is not about being selfish but to be wisely productive and have what it takes to help many others in need. In the case of our children, we cannot help them if we are ill-equipped. God has indeed blessed us as parents to raise our own children. He has given us all that we need to raise physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally healthy children. Every child and every challenge should be an opportunity for us to see God for His wisdom.
While there remains so much more to discuss and discover in our quest to raise healthy minds, may we be reminded that the spirit God has put in us as parents, is that of courage to dauntlessly defend the cause of our children while teaching them life principles and affirmatively, with a sound mind ourselves.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind
(2 Timothy 1:7 KJV).