52 Days to Better Mental Health

The change was barely noticeable unless you knew them well enough to know that this was significant. It was a small change in their behaviour, a problem that had plagued them for most of their life, but now it was gone.

They wanted a miracle, like the over night delivery of a new brain, but this was actually kind of better. Small yes, significant YES.

It was always sad for me when people would come to me and project their anger on to me about God not healing them in miraculous fashion of their addiction, personality disorder, anxiety, depression etc..

I think certain sectors of the Christian church had lead them to believe in a God that was like some super powerful power station, and that if you just plugged yourself in then all your problems would be miraculously sorted out. I had no magic wand, and I don’t think God would ever work like this.

God doesn’t offer overnight delivery of mental health.

Two reasons

  1.  God is more interested in growing a deep relationship with you than solving the struggle points. We grow closer to God through a narrow path
  2.  A miraculous change in the brain would literally destroy the brain. Think of all those billions of brain connections that need to change in order for your life to be different. You would not physically cope.

Instead a relationship is on offer where there is a slow and gentle building of a new life. Neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse, cell by cell we grow in dependence and truth.

Mental Health miracles happen, but most of them go completely unnoticed and thanked for unless you are up close enough to listen deeply.

When I was a pastor I used to say to frustrated volunteers that this was a ‘millimetre ministry’ where small steps of change take time. To look for the millimetres and be patient.

Electrical synapse

I now would probably say this is a nanometer ministry (one billionth of a meter). The distance between a couple of nerve cells is around 3.5 nanometres.

In praying for people for healing perhaps it would be wiser to pray for those small nanometers of change to happen, and then prayerfully watch and wait.

Maybe then you will gob smacked, shocked, amazed and wowed.

This was the response of those who observed a miracle happen on twenty-fifth day of Elul 515 BC (possibly October 2nd).

The building of the wall around the city of Jerusalem was finished. It had taken fifty-two days.

The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul. It had taken fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard the news and all the surrounding nations saw it, our enemies totally lost their nerve. They knew that God was behind this work. Nehemiah 6:15, 16

We have been journeying with the people of Jerusalem as they rebuilt their city wall. Nehemiah was the leader of this rag tag band of volunteers and through much opposition the wall was completed.

52 days.

Let that sink in. Not 52 years, months or weeks, but 52 days and this caused those who had been opposing the build to totally lose their nerve. Think wobbly jelly and you might get a picture of what it did to those living nearby.

All because the people had a mind to work and God was behind this work.

Sure the wall was probably not perfect, precise and accurate, but it was there. A sense of security and inner significance was now growing within the people of Jerusalem. Still more work to do on that front, there always is, but a ‘miracle’ had happened.

How long does it take for a new behaviour to get really bedded into our lives?

I have been reading The One Thing and they say research is showing that new habits take on average 66 days to bed in.

So let’s put this into our focus on building Mental Health.

I have written in the past about the importance of making your bed. Sounds crazy, but I wonder what would happen, in your brain, if for the next 52 days you made your bed first thing in the morning.

Or maybe something even smaller.

For the next 52 days you might

  • read Psalm 23
  • write in a journal one thing you are thankful for
  • memorise one verse of scripture
  • pray the prayer of St. Francis ( I did this when I was a teenager)

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Building new ways of thinking and behaving is hard work.

It takes persistent courage and effort much like those early wall builders.

Change won’t happen overnight but it will happen with consistent building of brick upon brick repetitiveness. That is where the miracles happen.

Want to learn more about habits?

I have a free eBook called ‘Ten Tips to Help with Habits’ that I would like to give you.

Sign up and I will send you this and some other goodies.

Learn more about how the brain changes in this very informative video by Dr. Robert Winston

Quotes to Consider

  • Only those willing to stand close enough to listen will ever hear those closest to the problem. Jim Wallis
  • The first duty of love is to listen. Paul Tillich
  • Where there is great love there is always miracles. Willa Cather
  • There is absolutely no substitute for repeating the right insight when you come under pressure to revert to the old ways. Use it or lose it. D. Riddell
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle
  • The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. Mike Murdoch

Questions to Answer

  1. Why do so many demand a miraculous healing rather than a growing relationship with the healer?
  2. Why is it so important to notice the little changes in wellness?
  3. What do you think about my reasons why God does not offer overnight delivery of Mental Health?

Barry Pearman

Image by John Asato