Now more than ever our minds are being taxed by a multitude of things. On a daily basis we filter some 60,000 thoughts and 35,000 decisions, while being inundated with media content, text messages, and other attention grabbers. They wash in and out. What we take in can help us flourish but it can also cause us to flounder. For as [she] thinks in [her] heart, so is [she], the Book of Proverbs forewarns. Time is as “regifted grace” — a concept introduced by author Cheryl Crofoot Knapp.
Most people seize the new day like a checklist, as something to be accomplished rather than something to be accentuated. What if, instead, we emphasized the gift of time as an occasion of grace? What if, each day became as an occasion to refine our lives. What if we spent the first 15 minutes reflecting, grateful for waking up, breathing, moving, existing in the space of a new day? Those checklists could shift from “accomplish this or that” to “accentuate regifted grace” before it becomes unrecognizable among thousands of other thoughts and decisions.
Most of us don’t experience such a mental shift until it is thrust upon us. When the time we anticipated having is taken away by disease, separation, loss, or some form of void, a pause-button gets pressed. Time and tasks stand still as we are engulfed in a crossroad; a place where our mental state aligns with our heart state; a place where thinking and praying often collide.
Mental Health Awareness Month culminates today, May 31st. The struggles will continue far beyond this day for millions of people. Your turn to struggle will come, and go. Without prejudice, male or female, adult or child, rich or poor, American or foreigner, college graduate or not, working or not, ordinary citizen or Hollywood famous, addict or clean, faith-filled or faithless — all are susceptible and all are vulnerable. Being able to still flourish is intricately tied to a pause button. Once we become aware of its usefulness, the button can become a preventative tool. We can positively affect generations to come.
Sparing or easing suffering shouldn’t begin when disease, separation, loss, or some form of void comes. It should be built into our thinking, embedded in our hearts, as a ready reservoir, accessible like the press of a button. When we are equipped, we can flourish despite our circumstances. Floundering will be as fleeting as the thousands of daily thoughts and decisions, leaving us with an ability to accentuate the kind of regifted grace that author Cheryl Crofoot Knapp speaks of.
During a recent event with military spouses of deployed members we shared tools to enhance resiliency. Gratitude journals, thankful cards, and hope boxes were among the take-away’s. Equipping military families to flourish in absence can prevent floundering in reunification. We cannot erase deployment, but we can ease the journey, this round and the next. There are an estimated 200 million members currently deployed in 177 countries (per DOD data), and so the cycles continue. Thankfully, there are other groups doing the work of equipping families with hope. Military life, deployment, stress, anxiety, depression … The Come Home Project is helping couples through it.
Since 1949, the month of May has been observed as Mental Health Month, spotlighted to raise awareness about the importance of mind-health in the hope of eradicating the stigma. Creating a reservoir of hope can begin with something as simple as serving tea for a group of women navigating deployment.
Hope can also be found in sharing consequences of silence. Brittany Stanley wrote about her father’s mental health struggle with addiction in the Baptist Press. Like too many families navigating addiction, the suffering went on for decades. “[It] hits people from all walks of life and is nothing to be ashamed of. The one thing I wish my father had done is seek help and accountability from other godly men about the addictions that flared up,” Stanley says. Sadly, his being an active evangelist and step-brother to Elvis Presley served only to deepen the shame and perpetuate the silence. Growing up with suffering has a tremendous impact on children, often causing them to vacillate between floundering and flourishing.
Still, I see hope painted inside Stanley’s story of addiction, as well as her other stories. Despite not being able to address her father’s pain in her childhood, she now has a flourishing voice, one capable of affecting generations to come. In pressing a pause button in the midst of her grief, she is helping others understand. “A thief [named addiction] comes to steal and to kill and to destroy,” she lamented. When any disease, separation, loss, or void comes, regifted grace can be found at the crossroads of the journey.
Even when circumstances appear out of control, a thought-shift can hasten the healing, especially when our mental state aligns with our heart state. Deployment, cancer, memory loss … people’s hearts and minds are hurting in this world. Let’s pray that we take notice, and then encourage them to flourish. For as she thinks, there she is (and, as he thinks, there he is too).
I invite you to explore Brittany Stanley’s other stories here. Also, take a few moments to experience more “regifted grace” by author Cheryl Crofoot Knapp. She is equally passionate about lifting the weight of loss and magnifying the power of encouragement.