How I’m Learning to Live: Resolutions for Mental Health

When I was a little girl, I would play for hours in my yard or in the woods after school because there I felt the remedies of God in nature. I still do. Even now as I sit at my desk and scribble these words down, I can’t help but look up again and again to drink in all the beauty filling up my view outside this window. There’s just something about all the wild things. God speaks volumes to me through a tree, a leaf, a blade of grass. I know it’s strange to say, but when I’m outside, something inside me heals.

As I’ve grown older and have looked around at life, I’ve found that most of us go about our days with this busy rush of living. I wonder if our frantic pace has impaired our vision? It isn’t that we don’t see enough, it’s that we don’t see well enough. The sky is always shouting out the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) but when we don’t take time to look up, we become glory starved. I know that feeling.

We walk deaf and blind, unaware of the strange glory of ordinary things. We grow up and forget how to be amazed. Sometimes I wonder if we’re really living.

Here lately, I keep plunging myself into the gospel and I’m finding something as I swim around in the depths of it–there is this slow and joyful discovery. Christ came to redeem us and restore our sight! He wants us to see the world again in childlike wonder. He purchased new eyes for us and new hearts. Eyes that see so much more of life than we ever knew could be seen and hearts that feel perfectly, completely. He came to make us fully alive. And I have always wanted to live like this. Awake.

I wanted to share with you these 10 Resolutions for Mental Health, written by a man named Clyde Kilby. I came across them years ago and have gone back to them time and time again. They challenge and encourage me to live with my eyes wide open.

1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.

2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death when he said: “There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.”

3. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

4. I shall not turn my life into a thin, straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.

5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.

7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the “child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder.”

8. I shall follow Darwin’s advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.

9. I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, “fulfill the moment as the moment.” I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.

10. Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.

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