Faith and Mental Health: Cleanse the Lens

With today being Easter Sunday, I deem it only fitting for today’s post to tackle faith and mental health. Now, if you are not a spiritual person or if you are not a person of faith, don’t exit out of this page. The analogy that I use still pertains to you. So please, read on.

Princeton University Chapel. Copyright Cindy T. Graham, Ph.D.

There have been many times in my life, after getting to know me for some time, people were surprised to know that I am a born-again Christian. Mainly because I am such a strong advocate of evidence-based treatment methods for mental illness people tend to assume that I can’t be religious. Some of you reading this are probably wondering how I am able to rectify the two. How can I be a Christian and believe in science and scientific method. Quite easily, actually. The pastor at the church I attend explained it quite well a couple of weeks ago during his sermon when he said,

“The best I can do is to cleanse the lens that the Light shines through.”

Inside the Chapel at Princeton. Copyright Cindy T. Graham, Ph.D.

Believers know the Light makes reference to Jesus Christ and He is the light that shines through us once we have accepted Him. The lens represents us. How we cleanse that lens pertains to what we do to maintain our overall wellness. Do nothing and the lens becomes smeared, cloudy, lacking in the sharp detail it is meant to have. Use the wrong kind of cleaning supplies and you can still have a lint-filled, streaky and obscured lens.  Some events in our lives will leave next-to-no marks on your lens. Some events will leave behind finger prints, dust, dirt, grime…the list goes on.

You certainly could walk around like that. With a dirty lens. Squinting. Struggling to see clearly. You may bump into things or you may stop in your tracks. You may even try to figure out a way to get a new set of lenses. Whether you are a spiritual person or not, I think we can all agree that nobody wants to have dirty lenses. Everybody wants to move forward and live a life with as much clarity as possible. And this means you have to clean your lens.

Copyright Cindy T. Graham, Ph.D.

Sometimes you can use just a cloth to get the job done. Sometimes you have to fog it up with your breath to get some of the more oily streaks off. And sometimes, you have to break out the special cloth, the nice one that gets your lenses super, crystal clear and doesn’t leave behind any lint. It is the same with life. Sometimes you can “clean up” what you are going through by talking to a friend, going for walk, praying, etc. And then you are back on your way to living your life with clarity. But sometimes you will need a little bit more.

And this is where psychotherapy comes in. Psychotherapy is by no means the only method for getting the smudges off of our lenses. Psychotherapy is one of many possible tools at our disposal to help us get some clarity back in our life. If you have gotten to a place in your life where you are no longer able to live with clarity, you owe it to yourself to seek out those methods available to help you get to a place of better wellness. Therapy is one of those really great cleaning cloths that get the stubborn smears off your lenses.

So whether you are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ or whether you are enjoying another day of spring, why not make a decision to do what you can to live your life with clarity? Make a commitment to do your best to cleanse the lens that lets the light shine through.