It’s February and here in the Midwest, Seasonal Affective Disorder is in full swing, So I thought it would be good to focus our blog for the next four weeks on mental and emotional health.
The CDC came out with this stunning report last year: In July 2020, 1 in 4 young adults in America ages 18-24, contemplated suicide due to the pandemic. That’s a 300% increase over July 2019. In August 2020, The JAMA Network reported the percentage of Americans suffering with depression symptoms during the coronavirus pandemic spiked to 28%, up from 9% in 2019. Once again, that’s a 300% increase.
We’re talking about north of 60 million people in the U.S. suffering with depression. Here’s some good news among all of that bad news: Anxiety and depression are not life sentences. Dr. Caroline Leaf puts it this way: “Anxiety and depression are injuries not identities.”
One of the pillars of mental and emotional well-being is nurturing the relationship with have with ourselves.
Matthew 22:36-39 says, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
The word “as” used in that passage means “in the same manner as.” The most important command in the Bible is really a 3-parter. It commands us to love God and to love our neighbor—but Jesus also commands us to love ourselves. To be our own best friend.
Why would He do that? Because He knows our capacity to love and lead others is directly related to the degree we obey the third part of the greatest commandment. Becoming your own best friend doesn’t mean becoming a self-centered narcissist. It means learning how to care for yourself kindly and biblically.
So today, I’d like to unpack four behaviors that help us become our own best friend instead of our own worst critic:
1. Healthy self-talk
Self-talk is how I talk to myself about myself. No one talks to you about you more than you do—so be kind with the words you say about yourself. Verbal slams you direct against yourself are not cute nor funny, and are every bit as damaging as those you might direct at others. I used to be serial verbal self-abuser until the Holy Spirit in no uncertain terms told me to knock it off.
2. Understand self-care vs. self-centeredness
Jesus in Matthew 22 was not advocating self-centeredness. The Apostle Paul helps us here. Let me set the scene for you: In Acts 20 he was saying farewell to a group of Ephesian leaders. He would never see them again, and in this emotional moment he urged them in verse 28 – “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.”
The phrase “keep watch” carries the following ideas: “to attend to, to pay attention to, to devote thought and effort to,” Paul gives us more clarity in Philippians 2:4: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Becoming your own best friend means caring about others while at the same time caring for yourself. It’s not an either/or proposition—it’s both/and.
3. Embrace God’s opinion of you
Psalm 139 provides a beautiful window into His opinion.
- Psalm 139:13-14: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
- Psalm 139:17-18: “How precious concerning me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” How many grains of sand are there on the beaches of the Great Lakes? They’re uncountable. Psalm 139 reveals the same God who created those beautiful lakes and their beaches thinks about us all the time!
So becoming your own best friend means embracing God’s opinion of you, and His opinion is you’re worth loving without strings attached, you’re the apple of His eye, and you’re never outside of His thoughts.
4. Care for your soul
Proverbs 19:8 tells us: “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul.” Our thoughts . . . and the emotions we attach to them, require tender, loving, care. In our next three blogs we’re going to expand on this fourth behavior.
One last thought:
Your capacity to love your spouse, your kids, your neighbor, your workmates, even your enemies, is directly related to the degree you become your own best friend!
In order to help you get and stay healthy mentally and emotionally, we are offering, for the entire month of February, my book Unshakable You, 5 Choices of Emotionally Healthy People at a 40% discount. You can order copies here.
If you’re struggling emotionally today, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today.
Rooting and praying for you to become your own best friend,