We outlined Cami's background and how these essays came to be in an earlier post, "College, Ministry & Stress." Today, we provide access to the essays themselves and Biblical connections the KIT Ministries staff made while editing them.
Although the essays are not “Christian” in nature, reading them revealed parallels between the practical concepts and Bible basics. There are seven scriptures related to the contents of the four essays themselves, and three other principles that provide perspective on Cami’s spiritual health journey summarized in the four essays.
1. For God So Loved...
While Scripture says, “God so loved the world,” “God is love,” and we are “to love our neighbors as ourselves,” and children are taught to sing, “Yes, Jesus loves me,” among those who are uncertain about their relationship with Him, any of those statements can be met with skepticism. Nevertheless, Cami does recommend a Scripture-infused concept.
“One thing I always recommend to everyone is “The Five Love Languages,” she says of Dr. Gary Chapman’s best-selling book. “Whether it has to do with mental health or not, it’s super helpful in knowing what ways the important people in your life feel loved.”
Indeed, the book and its accompanying on-line quiz were an important getting-to-know you tool for Kingdom Impact Theater Ministries when ensemble members began a mid-year intercession ministering to middle and high school students. The results not only helped the students know themselves, they opened communication channels between generations.)
FURTHER READING: John 3:16-18; 1 John 4:7-12, 16
2. Be Quick to Listen...
Cami writes: “No. 7: Listen to Them: “It’s really tempting to give advice and ask a lot of questions, but it’s way more helpful if they come and open up to you to just listen to what they have to say...unless they ask for it.” She then admits, “I struggle with this a lot if I’m being honest, but we all have things to work on in being supportive.”
James, an early church leader, was written by Jesus' brother, who was skeptical of Jesus' deity until after the Resurrection. The letter is considered the first New Testament book written and has been called "The Proverbs of the New Testament." Therefore, companion proverbs are also recommended.
FURTHER READING: James 1:19; Proverbs 18:13; Proverbs 21:28
3. Be Slow to Anger
Research from the National Alliance on Mental Illness outlines 17 behaviors that may be associated with mental health issues. In addition to sharing this list, Cami adds a perspective that again harkens back to James with a nod toward 1 Corinthians 13.
“If you have a loved one you've noticed some of these signs, in my biggest advice to you is to be patient, love on them and check on them,” she says. “Don't get angry, just know that they need support, not someone to reprimand them.”
From experience, Cami also brings encouragement to those who may be struggling with these behaviors.
“And if you've been feeling this way know first and foremost it's going to get better. You are not alone and you are loved.”
FURTHER READING: 1 Corinthians 13; Ephesians 4:25-27; 1 Peter 4:8-9
4. A Merry Heart Does Good...
“This sounds super simple and it really is, but as tempting as shows like “SVU” and “Grey’s Anatomy” are, they aren’t the most uplifting when you’re not feeling well.” Her recommended list of comedies also aligns with scientific studies from the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor about the positive effects of laughter.
Being able to make fun of and laugh at yourself are particularly healthy actions, as Cami demonstrated sharing a video, “Middle Schoolers Be Like, Pt. 3,” by You Tuber Trey Kennedy with the KIT Ministries office. Her accompanying note was apologetic: “Sorry I was kind of like this 😊 😊 😊” To which the office staff replied, “Kinda?”
See for yourself.
VIDEO: Middle Schoolers Be Like… Part 3
5. He Shall Give Another Comforter
“I know that counseling isn’t available to everyone, but if you have the opportunity to try it out, I would highly recommend it,” she says.
“Therapy” and “counseling” have roots in listening, discipleship and mentoring scriptures already utilized in ministry. Students particularly will tell school counselors, teachers or youth pastors more personal details than parents.
“I think it’s really important to have open conversations about mental health and to have people you feel comfortable with asking questions and reaching out to you,” she adds.
Feeling "comfortable" also bring to minds the words of Jesus as he explained the role of the Holy Spirit, whom, in the King James Bible, he calls "The Comforter." Lest we forget, this statement is from the lips whose names include "Wonderful Counselor."
FURTHER READING: Proverbs 27:9; 1 Timothy 4:11-13; 1 Peter 5:5
6. Meditate Upon These Things
While pointing out meditative apps she uses, Cami emphasizes, “I also read devotionals on the Our Daily Bread app, too!”
The idea of meditation causes some Christians to recoil, fearing capitulation to mystical forms of worship. This perception is ill-informed. Meditation is concentrating on a particular idea (often a phrase) for a short period, and Scriptures point out its assets. Scriptures exhort believers to mediate on The Word of God.
God tells Joshua to meditate on the book of the law day and night, Nine times psalmists reflect on meditating on God’s word. Significantly, Paul tells Timothy to meditate upon his gifts and studies -- an important message to impress upon today’s youth – Cami and her peers.
FURTHER READING: Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 77; Psalm 119: 14-16; Psalm 143:4-6.
7. Test Every Spirit
Days later, searching for a new YouVersion Bible study plan, we came across “Prayers from Jude,” timely since Vikki was raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Hospital while she ran the Chicago Marathon. As it turned out, “Prayer from Jude” was not just a reading devotional, but 15 minutes of guided reflection on Jude’s letter, four verses at a time. The devotional app is Abide. It’s Christian meditation.
In testing the spirits and searching for compatible resources, we were amazed by how often we had already studied biblical mental health content: sermons we had heard, devotionals we had taken, Scriptures we knew but had not placed in this context; even community agencies with which we partner, such as the Kenneth Young Center, have a spiritual base.
In subsequent essays, we’ll share some of those discoveries and resources and suggestions about how to incorporate in your ministries. For now, however, was are thankful for the awareness that has come to our family and encourage you to track with Cami’s findings. Those include the power of friendships, spiritual gifts, and Holy Spirit intercession. These will be explored in the next blog.
FURTHER READING: 1 John 4:1-13