A number of years ago I had back surgery. Before the surgery, I prayed and believed God could heal me. The night before the surgery, I had no pain and was convinced God had done a miracle. I was rejoicing, but woke up the next morning in excruciating pain and needed the surgery. It was a success and I had my healing. Looking back at the night free of pain, I believe God gave me the rest I needed to go through that procedure. My healing was no less a miracle than if God had touched my back immediately and healed it without surgery. In this case, he used the skillful hand of the surgeon to accomplish the healing, even though I had faith that God could do it without the surgeon’s help. God is all powerful. Healing, I have learned comes in many ways.
So why is it that when we talk about mental disorders like Bipolar Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Schizophrenia, etc. that we believe prayer alone heals people? These type of disorders have a clear biological root. We can now see the differences on brain scans. We know that God remains all powerful, yet sometimes His healing comes through the use of skilled doctors and mental health professionals. Personally I don’t see a difference. I do pray for healing over my clients. I believe God could heal their brain chemistry the same way He can heal a tumor. For years, I have prayed that prayer. What I see most often, is God healing through using His servants and what He has equipped us to do.
This tension we feel in the church about mental illness and healing need not be. We continue to lay hands on people and believe for healing. Then we allow God to do what He can only do. That may involve the help of medicines, doctors and mental health professionals. God gave us the knowledge to see into the brain, to develop the medicines, to learn the pathways to help people. God equips us to do His work.
Yet according to a Lifeway Research survey, a third of Americans – and nearly half of evangelical, fundamentalist, or born-again Christians – believe prayer and Bible study alone can overcome serious mental illness. I think we need to be careful in limiting God to heal the way we think he should. Sometimes He uses doctors and medicines. Sometimes, a progressive healing gives people the chance to work on various areas of their lives that they wouldn’t do under different circumstances.
God sees the whole picture. He knows what is best for us. Sometimes, the outcome of someone struggling with a mental illness is a closer walk for family members, even a conversion can happen as people depend on God. We don’t know how God uses the brokenness of our lives. So can you prayer away mental illness? Yes and sometimes No. Sometimes God’s healing comes through doctors and medicine, the same way the neurosurgeon was used to heal my back.
I was getting ready to drive to the doctor’s office for an annual check up and I thought, “Well, I’ve been eating well, walking the dog every day and going to the Y three times a week. Basically, I’ve been doing the things I encourage readers to do in my books on health and weight loss.”
So imagine my surprise when the nurse weighed me and announced, “You’ve gained two pounds since last year Dr. Mintle.” ‘”What? How can that be? I’m making a concerted effort here to keep my weight down with exercise and eating.”
After that, I have no idea what was said. I was obsessing on the weight gain. Granted, it was a small amount of weight, not really noticeable in my clothing, but just the idea that all that effort ended in a weight gain was depressing.
I had to remind myself of the grim fact that as we age, weight gain is usually part of the picture. We simply lose muscle cells. So if you keep your calorie count the same as when you were younger, the calories don’t burn as efficiently and end up as fat. And in my work, I spend a lot of time sitting! But that is why I work-out- 30 minutes cardio and 30 minutes of weight lifting and crunching. Apparently, this isn’t enough exercise to maintain my weight.
Then there is the eating. I watch my portion size, I indulge once in awhile but overall, I eat fairly healthy. So the bottom line here is that if I want to maintain my weight, I have to cut back even more and/or up my exercise. This is not brain science! Well, actually it is!
I’m asking myself, how much am I willing to do? I don’t want to live my life never eating gelato again. And I don’t want to spend every day at the gym. The bottom line here is that I either accept the few pounds and continue to embrace exercise and healthy eating at the level I can handle or I cut back and feel like I am depriving myself. I know what happens with deprivation. All the studies tell us that this strategy leads to overeating.
My conclusion is this: It’s only a few pounds. Be more intentional with eating and exercise. Like the title of one of my books, Press Pause Before You Eat. Don’t give up because the healthy benefits not reflected in weight gain are still helping my physical body. Weight is only one measure of health (make this my mantra!). And accept the fact that aging brings more challenge to maintaining weight. I’m not overweight and the doctor didn’t even blink at the two pound weight gain. I was the one going crazy momentarily.
So I took a deep breath, focused on the good report she gave me at the end of my visit and decided to keep on keeping on. I know what I can handle in my schedule. Thankfully, I have a dog who pulls me out the door every day. And three days a week at the Y is all I can handle and frankly, want to do.
When I arrived home and sat at my desk, I spied a copy of my book, Making Peace With Your Thighs, on the shelf by the computer. Hmmm, maybe it is time to take my own advice!
What are your strategies for maintaining weight as you get older?
I’m not a theologian. But I’ve been a Christian for years and still attend church. Lately, I’ve had three questions about the theology of the part of the service usually referred to as the praise and worship. I’ve noticed that we sing a number of songs that beg God to come and be with us. This has me confused. Isn’t God already there when we assemble? Since He lives is us, we bring the presence of God to the service. I just want to thank Him for His presence and for indwelling me. So why do we spend so much time begging God to come?
Second, we sing songs telling God how bad and needy we are. Doesn’t the One who created us already know this. I certainly know I need God. Without Him, I would be a mess. That’s one of the reasons I am in church, to be mindful of my need of God on a regular basis. We do need God and the freedom He brings to our lives. A Sunday ago, we sang a song about freedom. It was a moving song that said, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” But the worship leader kept saying, “God we need your freedom, please bring your freedom. Bring down the walls so freedom can come.”Over and over we pleaded for God to bring His freedom yet we were singing, “where the spirit of the Lord is (He was right there), there is freedom.” Again, I was confused. God’s spirit was moving in that place. Freedom was available if people surrendered to the freedom giver. God did not have to be ordered to bring freedom. God was already doing what we sang, ‘Showering us with mercies and grace.” But the leader was shouting for the walls to come down in order for freedom to reign.
Third, most of the song lyrics are about me, my struggle and my need. I’m ready to sing to God, enough about me. I want to declare how great He is, sing about His majesty, power, holiness… The more I focus on who God is, the deeper I go in worship. The more I worship Him, the more I am healed, changed, and see my sin. It seems that by the time we get to a song that actually talks about God, the time is gone.
I know worship leaders deal with criticism all the time so I rarely say anything. My husband was a worship leader for 16 years and heard everyone’s complaints about everything! But the theology of what we do and sing during that part of the service should be biblical. And as someone who has been in the faith a long time, I often find myself confused by the leading and lyrics of some of the songs. I’m not sure how this should be addressed since no one is asking my opinion. But my concern is that we don’t leave people thinking that God has to be begged to come to us, needs to be reminded of how needy we are, and that the focus should be on us.
A number of years ago, I found this on a website, Thirdage.com. It’s simple but true.
This is what happy couples do…
- Go to bed at the same time.
- Cultivate common interests
- Walk hand in hand or side by side.
- Make trust and forgiveness your default.
- Focus on what your partner does right not wrong.
- Hug each other as soon as you see each other after work.
- Say “I love you” and “Have a good day” every morning.
- Say goodnight every night regardless of how you feel.
- Do a “weather” check during the day.
- Be proud to be seen with your partner.
Are you a happy couple?