The Bible As a Basis for Good Mental Health
In a TV commercial for Special Olympics, one participant falls. He’s definitely “out of the race”; he can’t possibly win! Everyone else now has a better chance of reaching the finish line first!
But in a sincere act of self-less compassion, they all stop and pick up their fallen comrade. Arms locked in solidarity, they continue to press on, together. The event changes from a race to a run. Crossing the finish line together, they are all winners.
In 1997, the Chicago Tribune published an essay by columnist Mary Schmich, written as a hypothetical commencement speech. Baz Lurhrman recorded it as a spoken-word song, “(Everybody’s Free to) Wear Sunscreen” (Actually, it was narrated by Australian voice actor Lee Perry). He explains that wearing sunscreen is the only scientifically-proven advice he will give you, and that the rest of his advice has “no basis more reliable than his own meandering experiences.” I love this line: “Don’t waste your time on jealousy, sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind; the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
Winning is often glorified at the expense of individual growth, it’s competition before cooperation. I try to remember, we’re all on the same team. We can coach and encourage each other, but we are not the referee. We don’t keep score. We don’t hand out the trophies.
Imagine yourself alone on a deserted island, with nothing to “be,” or “do,” or “have.” Who are you? Yes, it’s about who you are, not what you are. Your character is what counts. The things you’ve acquired and accomplished, your accolades and achievements—all these matter not, if they were not done in Christian love, and according to God’s plan for your life.
Sonja Lyubomirsky spent much of her career on meta-research: researching the research-- about happiness. One of her books, The Myths of Happiness, is subtitled “What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t; and What Shouldn’t’ Make You Happy, but Does.” Have you ever felt, “I will be happy …when… (fill in the blank)…” The older I get, the more I realize there isn’t anything I can put in that blank. No, I have to decide to be happy, not wait to see what the days, weeks, or years bring, and react to that!
When each of us stand before those Pearly Gates we’ve envisioned, we long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Sometimes I kinda’ hope he’ll say, “Well, compared to so-and-so, you’re a saint! Come on in!”) But it’s only me, alone at the judgement throne. I have to account for myself. So I have to strive…as Paul said, press on toward the prize; run the race set before you…
We want to be able to say, as is written in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”
Hebrews 12:1 explains it this way: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The voice of Paul resonated with many back then . . and echoes today! Truly, A Voice Carries.