James Meehan - How Should Christians Respond to Mental Health Challenges?
- Get involved
Bo Brown: Welcome to this week's episode of "Culture Makers". My name is Bo Brown, and I'm here with James Meehan!
James Meehan: Bo Brown! And Bo Brown.
Bo Brown: That's right.
James Meehan: Downtown.
Bo Brown: It's gonna be a great show today. Make sure...
James Meehan: Not a clown.
Bo Brown: ...that you...
James Meehan: Turn that frown... upside down.
Bo Brown: Listen up, and stop interrupting. We have a very big show. We're talking about mental health challenges.
James Meehan: Come on, man.
Bo Brown: We're talking about trading cards, we're talking about summer plans, and we are talking about censorship verse accountability. It's going to be a great show. Let's jump right in. I wanted to hear your thoughts on those of us who face mental health challenges. This is obviously something that is happening all around the world, affecting people differently in different ways. How should Christians attack and look at mental health challenges?
James Meehan: Yeah, I mean, I think that's such a great question. It's so important for us to have open and honest dialogue about this, because the unfortunate reality is that there are a lot of people who will experience some sort of mental health challenge, whatever that may be, and automatically assume that there's something wrong with them. And the reality is, is like, yeah, there's something wrong. This mental health challenge is a problem, but more often than not, it's kind of like if you were to say, break your arm, you need somebody to help you overcome that injury. I think the same thing is true when it comes to mental health challenges. There are times where, yeah, you're having a sad day and it's just a sad day. When you wake up the next day, you won't be feeling that, but there are other times where that sadness doesn't go away. And when that happens, we've gotta figure out how do we respond in a way that's good, in a way that's wise, in a way that's true. And this is why I think it's so important for us to make sure that we have people around us who we trust, who trust us, and will be there to encourage us in those difficult times. And this is why I'm so thankful about being a part of a really, really great church. Is there are people in my life who are there for me in the good times and the bad, because the reality is is that I cannot fix my own broken arm. Right, I need help to do that. And whatever that might be for you, the reality is is there might be something that you're experiencing that is too big for you to fix on your own. And so my advice would be threefold. Thing number one, obviously, go to God in prayer. Because our heavenly father is our great physician. He wants to comfort you and He wants to bring healing to you. But the beautiful thing is that more often than not, the way that God works in our lives is through other people. So thing number one, go to God in prayer. Thing number two, surround yourself with a life-giving community. Make sure that you have people in your life that you can talk to about the hard things, and be okay with the fact that it's going to feel uncomfortable. You're going to have to be vulnerable, but it's through that vulnerability, it's through that authenticity that we can be met by the grace and mercy of others. And then thing number three, if it's bad enough, go and get professional help, go and get professional help. You're not going to impress anybody by trying to pretend like there's nothing wrong. The thing that you'll actually end up doing is prolonging the pain. And so whatever mental health challenges you might be facing personally, I would say go to God in prayer, surround yourself with life-giving community, and get professional help. And then if there are people around you who are walking through something difficult, man, be that life-giving community for them. Don't just assume that everything is okay. Ask the deeper questions, right? When you say, "Hey, how are you"? And they say, "Hey, I'm fine, everything's good," ask the next question. "No, like, how are you really"? Or, "I've noticed you've seemed a little bit sad lately. Is there something going on"? Or, "Hey, I know that what happened last week with your parents getting a divorce was probably really painful for you. Would you be willing to talk about that with me"? And I think that when we choose, as the body of Christ, the family of believers, to be in community with one another, then we are doing exactly what Jesus has called us to, to love one another the same way that He's loved us. Galatians chapter six, verse two says that when we carry one another's burdens, we are fulfilling the law of Christ. And so you might feel like your pain or your mental health challenge is a burden, but it's actually a gift. Because when you share that with the people around you, you are giving them an opportunity to fulfill the law of Christ.
Bo Brown: Yeah, I love that. We recently heard one of our leaders talk about asking the fourth question. You know, there's a question one, question two.
James Meehan: Come on, bro.
Bo Brown: Honestly, you don't really have to even care about somebody to ask question one and question two. But if we're being honest, like you really have to be listening, and you really have to want to care if you're asking question three and four. And so let's be people that ask that third and that fourth question, so we can be people that care for other people, because we're all going through something. Speaking of is sharing about problems and things that are happening in the world, I mean, there is some crazy stuff happening in the world around trading cards, okay? I mean, let me tell you. Have you guys been watching the news? No, you don't watch the news. Here's the thing, trading cards are taking over the world. Like Walmart, Target, they're stopping selling trading cards. Like I'm talking Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, baseball, NHL, NFL trading cards, all types of cards. They are stopping, because there's been like some violent stuff has been breaking out about it. What are your thoughts and your feelings about trading cards?
James Meehan: Man, I remember being in kindergarten, getting my first ever holographic Charizard Pokemon card.
— And I literally traded my entire Pokemon deck for that one card because of how valuable it was.
— Yes, yes.
— And then after I got that card, here's what I realized. You can't actually do Pokemon with only one card. It was not a good trade.
— No, no, no, yes, yes.
— But, man, it felt good in the moment. And so I think the thing is is like trading cards, just like anything else, I think it can be a really, really great hobby. But if you are fighting people to get those cards, what are you doing?
— No, no, no.
— That's not who you are!
— I completely agree. I completely agree. You know, and it's just like life. I mean, there's people trading their whole decks of cards in their life for that one card that they view is worth something that's greater than anything they have in that whole deck. But in reality, we need a whole deck to be able to play this game of life.
— Come on. I don't even know what it means.
— I don't know either.
— I like the way it sounds though, come on.
— Next thing we are talking about today, we're talking about censorship verse accountability.
— Yes please.
— This is a hot topic, you guys have probably heard about this. This is something that's, it's engulfing our world, because there's people who kind of fall in two camps. And those two camps are kind of creating a divisive and dividing world of whether we really feel like people should be held accountable by us, or if we should be people who are censoring people who really need to be censored. And so there's kind of these two different thoughts. And so thinking about those, like, what is your viewpoint? What's the Bible's viewpoint on censorship verse accountability.
— When it comes to the hot topic, the word that has been thrown around so much of cancel culture, the question becomes, is it a good thing or a bad thing? And depending on where you sit, you're gonna have a different opinion, right? Like Bo said, some people see cancel culture as a way to hold people accountable. Other people see cancel culture as a form of censorship. And I think the thing is is that both sides are making good points. Both sides have reasons to believe that what they're saying is right and true. And I think the temptation that we've got to resist is to allow our mindset to be so shaped by one side of the debate that we lose focus on the value the other side is bringing. And so here's the reality, cancel culture, as we have come to know it today, I think there are aspects of it that can be really helpful, and there are also aspects of it that can be very harmful. And so the reality is, is that when it comes to this idea of censorship, man, it's a tough thing, because there are absolutely things that should not be said.
— Right, there are things that are hurtful and hateful and demeaning to others that should not be said. Now, the question becomes, who determines who can say what and who can't? And I think that's a really difficult question that we have to wrestle with, because oftentimes what will happen is people will see something that they don't like being said and immediately call for that person to be censored. But then somebody that they do like is saying something that is perceived as harmful and hateful by the other side, but they don't want that person to be censored. And so this is the thing that can be so difficult is we oftentimes have a tendency to only see the good in the people that are on our side, and only see the bad in the people that are on the other side. And I think that if we're going to have intellectual consistency, then we've got to hold the same standard for everybody. And so if I don't want the people on the other side to say harmful things, then I better make sure that I'm calling out the people on my side. But at the same time, if I'm somebody who wants everybody to be able to say whatever they want, as long as it's not causing harm on others, then I have to give that same right and freedom to people on the other side. And so again, when it comes to censorship and accountability as a Christian, the way that I think about it is when it comes to accountability, I'm a huge believer in accountability, right? The apostle Paul talks about the importance of accountability. Jesus talks about the importance of calling out your fellow believers when they are in sin. But this is what's so important for us to recognize as Christians, our job is not to clean up everybody else's mess. Our job is to make sure that we as the church, the body of Christ, the family of God, are living rightly according to God. And so the people that I'm gonna hold accountable are not people out in the world who do not believe that Jesus is Lord. The people I'm gonna hold accountable are like you, and like me, other Christians, because we have the standard that we have agreed to that Jesus is Lord, and because of that, if our lives are out of alignment with that belief, then I hope that somebody is gonna call me out on it so that I can repent, turn from my hypocrisy, and instead live out what I believe. But what I'm not gonna do is I'm not gonna hold the rest of the world to a standard that they've never agreed to, because the God that we believe in gave every single human being free will. That means He gave them the choice to either follow Him or reject Him. And if I'm serving on behalf of that God, I'm not going to force my standards on anyone else. I'm gonna always love them, always gonna care for them, I'm always going to serve them, I'm always going to invite them to experience the grace of Jesus, because I believe that that changes everything for the better. And so when it comes to accountability, huge believer. Now, for me personally, the people I choose to hold accountable are the people who are in the family of God, other believers. Now, if there are people that are out in the world that are saying really, really harmful and hateful things, I'm not gonna take it upon myself to try and get them removed from whatever position of influence that they have, because I don't think that that's my job. But what I do wanna do is I want to speak truth, and love, and life into a world that right now is so full of hate, division, and honestly just bitterness.
— Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. What is that saying go, like we judge ourselves and those are close to us by their intentions. We judge others by their actions.
— Come on, bro.
— Something like that, something along those lines.
— It's called a fundamental attribution error.
— Yes, that's right. I learned about that.
— As human beings, we fundamentally are terrible at understanding what it is that causes people to behave in certain ways. And like you said, I always believe the best about me, but often assume the worst about people.
— And oof, not very Christ-like.
— No, it's not.
— And I'm guilty of it sometimes, bro.
— I know, it's so hard to do. It's absolutely hard to do. And what's also hard to do is look at you and not think about summer. I mean, you're just a, you're a ray, he's a ray of sunshine today. I mean, look at him, Hawaiian shirt right there, he's lookin' good, and...
— You know the best part?
— I just found the shirt and put it on.
— It's not even mine. I think it's Steven Cole's.
— Oh my god. "Dee who".
— Old Bay.
— For a lot of our students, a lot of our viewers, summer is right around the corner, and so how can like we as people, and we as students, like maximize our summer? So it's not just time of boredom or busy-ness, but a time of effectiveness and maximizing our time.
— We have got Summer Switch coming up in July. And also, for those of you who are here and you're not yet a part of Switch Online, we literally have Switch Online every single week throughout the summer, as a way for you to stay connected to the heart of our church and what God is doing. Literally every week, new messages, new content. You're gonna wanna be there, because it's pretty built. And then honestly, man, I am really looking forward to taking the summer to just prepare for the fall, right? Because you know, for Switch in real life, Swirl as I like to call it.
— We don't call it that.
— 100% gonna start calling it that. When it comes to swirl, we start back up in August, and I'm just really excited for what I believe is gonna take place as our students regather together. You know, with all things 2020, not being able to meet for the majority of that year, then 2021, getting back into the rhythm of doing life together in community, now at the end of 2021, as we're stepping into the fall, I think there's just such a hunger for real genuine community and relationships, and I'm just really looking forward to it.
— Mh-hmm, absolutely. So what I heard is take time to celebrate.
— Come on.
— Take time to grow.
— Take time to be in community and continue to grow in your walk with Christ, because summertime is a great time, especially as a student. I remember having some of my greatest memories during the summer, but I also can remember sometimes being bored out of my mind, or busy out of my mind and not really capitalizing on it. And so take that time because it is a gift, and let's use it wisely, and use it to glorify God. And speaking of glorifying God, I know the person who sent in this question today, I personally know him, his name is Gideon Minx.
— Come on!
— And he is a Switch legend.
— Bro, me thinks Gideon Minx.
— Gideon is an incredible student, he is a major part of Switch, and what's so cool is is he's never actually attended a Switch in real life, but he's been a part
— of the Switch in our online community,
— Even sometimes across the world.
— And so he actually sent in this question, okay. It's a good question, I'm really excited to hear what you have to say. The question goes like this. It says, "What's your thoughts on aliens"?
— Mmm, come on, love them.
— "Or people who've had some sort of traumatic experience they say with an unidentified being or objects. And how do we as Christians respond to that"?
— Yeah, I think that's a really interesting question, because we've gotten to this point in our world where scientific discoveries have advanced so much that we know just how vast our universe is. And so there are many people who speculate that there is likely some other form of intelligent life in this universe, right? When we just look at the size of it all. It seems like there's probably somewhere where there's some sort of intelligent life, right? And whether you believe that or not, that's up to you to decide. But I think the thing that's interesting is to think about what does that mean for our faith? Would that mean that Christianity is not true? Now, for me personally, I'm totally open to the fact that there could be other intelligent life out there. And to me, that doesn't disprove Christianity. Because that other intelligent life still needs an explanation. Where did it come from? Right, why is it there? And I think that if there is other intelligent life, then either God would have visited them in some miraculous fashion, just like He did to us through the person of Jesus, or God would want us, His people, to bring the message of Jesus to them. Now maybe we bring the message to them and we discover, oh wow, they've actually already met Jesus. And that'd be really incredible. Maybe they haven't, and they have their own belief system. And we are charged with the mission of introducing them to Jesus. Now, obviously that's all if any of this stuff is even true, because at this point, we don't actually have any real, tangible evidence for the existence of life outside of the earth. Now it's possible, right? There's different things that people have seen that have caused them to speculate, but we don't know for sure. And I think as Christians, it's totally okay to be open-minded about questions like that. As a matter of fact, the fathers of modern science, the people who sparked the scientific revolution, were all committed Christians, because they believed that an orderly universe came from an orderly God. So in order to actually do science, we investigate the laws of nature through experimentation, observation, and then drawing conclusions based off of that. And they believed that they could do that rationally, because rational minds are dependent upon a rational God. And then finally, they believe that doing science was actually an act of devotion. And so maybe you're one of those people out there who you get really excited about all things science, you get really excited about exploring space, and talking about aliens. What I want you to know is that that desire to be curious, to discover and to understand is actually a gift that's been put in you by God. And so I would say lean into that, learn more, discover, because the world needs more and more brilliant Christian thinkers that are willing to ask those questions and explore the edges of our understanding. And so I think that is a really, really cool thing. Now specifically, when it comes to people who have these encounters that they believe are with some sort of unidentified object or extraterrestrial being, that's a really great question, and I don't have a good answer for you. What I wanna always try to do is when people have experienced any form of trauma, I don't wanna start with the assumption that they're lying. I wanna start with the assumption that this is a human being made in the image of God, and I've been given an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to them. And so instead of trying to tell them all the ways that they may or may not be wrong, I just wanna be with them. I wanna hear what their experience is. I want to offer whatever sort of comfort I can in the process. And if it is something that's so traumatic that they're still feeling the effects of it today, then I wanna figure out, man, how do I get them help? Because I think that when it comes to any form of trauma, the reality is it's like what we talked about a little bit earlier. It's like having a broken bone. And in the same way that I am not a doctor who can fix my own broken arm, when somebody goes through serious form of trauma, I am not a doctor, I can't fix that for them. But what I can do is I can point them to God, our great physician, and I can help them find great professional help to walk through whatever trauma they might be experiencing.
— Absolutely. Speaking of unidentified objects, don't be an unidentified object here at Switch.
— Come on, come on.
— Send in your questions, send in your comments.
— That transition.
— Send in all the ways that we can be answering the questions that you guys are going through and what's happening in your life. Once again, do not forget to like, comment, subscribe, be a part of our Switch community, and thank you.
— And Swirl, Swonline, Swinstagram, SwouTube.
— That's all of them, yeah. And I'm sure there'll be more to come.
— SwikTok, got one good.
— Thank you guys for shaping culture, making culture, creating culture and being culture makers. We'll see you guys here next week.
— See ya.