People talk about mental health in a way now that they haven’t before. Finally, people recognize that everyone deals with mental-health issues many times during their lifetime. What many people still seem to struggle to understand is that faith plays a big part in our mental health. Surrender to God makes a significant difference.
The Abide team passionately believes that finding peace with God can positively affect your mental health. But we also passionately believe in seeking professional help when necessary. We invited Brittney Moses to our community to bring more awareness to how faith and mental health intersect. Brittney Moses is a Los Angeles-based writer and content creator—passionate about the intersection between faith, mental health, and wellness. Brittney’s popular blog advocates for wholehearted mental wellness for everyday living.
The Bible is clear about the benefits of living a surrendered life to God, but easier said than done, right? We’re talking with Brittney about what happens when you surrender to God.
Why is surrender to God so important to mental and emotional health, yet also extremely hard?
BM: At a basic level, our brain and bodies are wired for survival and part of that means being able to have some level of predictability and safety in our environment. So it’s natural that our instinct would be to want to try to manage or control the circumstances around us to avoid pain and discomfort. However, the reality is that these are also a part of life and sometimes a part of growth that we can’t completely avoid. So choosing to live surrendered instead, can feel counterintuitive and is something we have to intentionally choose every day.
It also can be easy to get trapped into this mental bias called the Control Fallacy. You tend to either believe that everything should be within your control or the contrary, that nothing is within your control. The issue with believing that everything should be within your control is that you carry the unnecessary burden of guilt and shame over circumstances that are out of your control. This is most evident if you struggle with perfectionism, which is an illusion.
What are the most common ways that people forget to surrender to God?
BM: I think one of the most common things we have trouble surrendering are the choices and behaviors of someone else, especially loved ones. We can’t control how people will act or respond, we can only be responsible for our responses and actions and either walk with others in love or set healthy boundaries when necessary.
Work or projects can also be difficult to surrender when we’re striving for a specific outcome, which I try to remind people to enjoy the process of learning and showing up wholeheartedly through your work and let the results follow.
And then there are just the day-to-day happenstances of life. Maybe plans change or things don’t work out the way you expected or you’re not able to meet all of the demands you have in one day. At some point, we let go of what “should be” and be flexible to adapt to what is happening in front of us so we can move forward—and let all that we can do be enough. God’s not surprised by a single moment and He has you.
What are the benefits of choosing surrender?
BM: When we’re able to surrender the things that are out of our control, it reduces anxiety and helps us regulate our emotions more effectively. It’s definitely a positive coping strategy that gives you the sense of peace that allows you to be present, be satisfied with your efforts and show up for those around you. When Christ tells us to “not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34) or we’re called to “cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you”(Psalm 55:22), I fully believe God has our mental health in mind.
What advice do you have to those of us struggling to surrender today?
I really would encourage us to decide to let go of the things we can’t control today. Are you overthinking and getting yourself worked up over something that is completely out of your hands? You can’t control what someone else is thinking, you can’t control someone else’s choices, you can’t control what happened in the past and you can’t usually control the timing or results of how events will play out.
Worrying about things like this only makes us feel worse while having no effect on the situation. So let’s identify and mentally release the parts that you have no control over. Consider visualizing this process by making a physical list of what they are. This is the part where you pray and give these specific things to God and leave it in His hands.
And remember that there is more than one way to get to where you’re trying to go. God is sovereign enough to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and sometimes that journey isn’t always linear, but detours aren’t dead ends. They’re just another way of approaching things. And if we find ourselves having to start over or try something again, remember this time you’re starting from experience, so you’re at an advantage.
If we get to caught up in the “should haves” of how things “should have” gone or what “should’ve” happened, we get trapped in the past where we can’t make any fruitful change. So release what could have been, let go of what’s out of your control, focus on what’s happening now that’s still within your control, and trust that God has you every step of the way. He’s carried you this far, and that same grace will continue to carry you forward.
Huge thanks to Brittney for blessing us with not only these thoughts, but also guided meditations for mental health on the Abide app! We’re so grateful for you, Brittney.
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