FAITH AND MENTAL HEALTH

By: ASHLEY ABERCROMBIE & BRITTNEY MOSES

Ashley Abercrombie: So, Britney, you are a mental health specialist and you have an incredible podcast on faith and mental health.  Brittney Moses: Which, you've been on.  Ashley Abercrombie: Yes. So fun. So fun. And you're a speaker. You're a mama. You have so many incredible things that you do with your life. And so on top of all those things, you want to tell us a little bit more about you.  Brittney Moses: Yeah. So I'm born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and a lot of what I do is at the intersection of faith and mental health. And really that comes from my experience serving in the church for years. I served a lot in youth and young adult ministry, and I was just running into a lot of mental health crises.  I literally found myself becoming a manager of mental health crises. And looking back, it all makes sense because research for over 20 years has shown that when a person's in psychological distress, they will go to their church, to their clergy, to their pastor before they ever step foot to a mental health professional. So the church is really this gateway for mental health. I don't know about anybody else, but when I was at the end of myself, the first place I came to was church, which was, which was fantastic.  But it definitely showed me that, that there was a need. So I went back to school and I'm a graduate of psychology and research at UCLA. And this is what we talk about mostly just how can we integrate faith and mental health in a way that is, you know, we say faith without works is dead right, that is faithful and that that is practical. And what does that look like?  Ashley Abercrombie: Okay. Well, I want to take a minute here just to say that if you are not on Britney's Instagram page, we don't normally plug Instagram on the stage like this. Okay. So we're not going to do this again, probably. But she has the most amazing reels and information that you've ever seen. So if you want to pop over there and just look at her very quick ways, she does boundaries, just mental health, ways to rest like she's got so much information that's grabbable. You know, the gram' can be a hot mess. Okay. So this is like things you can actually grab a hold of and practice in your life.

MENTAL HEALTH AS A TOOLBELT

Ashley Abercrombie: So why don't we talk a little bit since you brought it up about church and mental health. So how do people sort of distinguish what's a pastoral care issue and what is an actual mental health issue? And how do you know -- what if you don't get the help you need in the church? What if somebody is unable to see that you have an actual mental health issue? Like kind of talk to us a little bit about that.  Brittney Moses: Yeah, this is really important to understand because and we're going to get nerdy, just let y'all know, you know, I bring up a lot of research stuff. It's kind of my my world. But, you know, Lifeway, which is a Christian publishing research group, they interviewed about a thousand Protestant pastors and 59% of pastors had counseled someone who went on to receive a mental diagnosis, meaning that there was something more that was going on.  So we know that it's that it's all intertwined and everyone has their role. Right. When we look at mental health, we kind of look at it as this tool belt, right? And we have all these different tools that we can use at our disposal for our overall well-being. So, you know, we have our church community and, you know, pastoral leadership.  And that is so important for our spiritual formation and our spiritual direction. You know, and then we have therapists who are trained and equipped in the mind. And not only that, but in the brain. That's something that I always want to bring up, that where there's sometimes some confusion or blurred lines, that mental health is also a physical health issue. You know, when it comes to the brain, it's an organ. There are hundreds of thousands of chemical reactions taking place every second.  As you're sitting here, as you're listening to us and knowing that we live in a fallen world, any one of those things can go wrong, just like any other organ in our body that contribute to these mental health symptoms. So, you know, everyone has their expertise. And I love Proverbs 24:6 where it says, "in a multitude of counselors there is safety." Or in other versions, "in a multitude of counselors there is victory."  So there's this idea that when we're covering all our bases, you know, you wouldn't go to your mechanic to ask about your eye. Right. You go to your optometrist to ask what's wrong with your eye. Your, you know, cardiologists with what's going on with your heart. You know, everyone has their role and expertise. And so we want to cover all of our bases and making sure that we're getting the care that we need that leads to real solutions.  Ashley Abercrombie: I love that I, I learned the term wraparound services kind of halfway through my recovery journey. And I realized like, oh, that's really what it takes. Like one thing isn't going to, you know, kind of make us well, like in the area of mental health, it feels like we need a few things. Like you said, our faith community, good friendships, which is why we spent so much time talking about relationships because there's so much power in healing when you can be honest in relationships, when they're reciprocal, when you're with the same person, when you are a safe person, when you can trust folks again, even after you've been hurt. And then this the therapy mental health piece or support groups or recovery groups, I feel like it really is the wraparound services we need all of it. And there's no shame in that.  Brittney Moses: No, absolutely. And it's this idea of start somewhere. Like I said, for me and like for many people, my start was in the church. I remember going to celebrate recovery or signing up for a mentorship in church, and that was very healing for me in starting the process. And then I was as I was starting it, then it's then I saw the therapist, then I was, you know, doing exercise and I was like, how can I eat better? You know, that's going to impact my mental health. So it's just starting somewhere and realizing that it is holistic when it comes to our overall well-being. I love, you know, Jesus says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength." And it's very clear that there are so many dynamics that make us human and make up the human experience. And if God care to create all those areas and aspects of ourselves, then we should care to pay attention to them.

AN INTEGRATED VIEW

Ashley Abercrombie: Right. So good. Okay. We received a lot of questions that we put out on Instagram and via our email from you guys in the congregation, we received questions about the stigma around Christians, but also in general pursuing mental health therapy or support groups or even medicine. And so maybe you could talk a little bit about this because does it mean if you're pursuing those things that you don't have enough faith? Should believers just be able to pray away issues that they have or be delivered completely out of them? Like, talk to us a little bit about the stigma and how those things are connected.  Brittney Moses: This is my favorite thing to talk about. Comes up often. So what tends to take place when it comes to mental health is we see these two perspectives, right? We see this totally kind of scientific evidence-based perspective, but it really doesn't take into account God or the Holy Spirit or the works of Christ, but it is evidence-based and it has some modalities or therapeutic processes that have been evidentially proven to help to provide relief. So that's helpful.  And then there's the 100% spiritual view that takes place, and that is the idea that it is 100% a spiritual matter. You know, that's where you get the you know, it's it's demonic or it's or it's just a stronghold, which all of that is scriptural. You know it's there, but it's not taking into account the practical side. Right.  So I think those of us who are really fascinated and passionate about the intersection of faith and mental health are really trying to pull along to this integrated view where we can say, yes, there are things that we see in evidence when it comes to mental health that's very physical, that's very practical, that's very real.  But also, you know, as she was saying, our identity is in Christ, right? No matter what we feel, no matter what's going on around us, what is our objective truth about who God is and who he called us to be in this world that we come back to at the end of the day. That also processes with our mental health. So it's about coming to this integrated view.  And part of that is just understanding what mental health is in general. Right. Something that I like to advocate is that we are bio, psycho, social, spiritual beings. It's it's wordy, it's wordy, but biological. So we have brains, we have neurochemicals, we have even hormones. And all of these things play a role in our mood and behavior.  Psychological is our mental framework, which has been shaped by our experiences. And we all have different experiences, even cultural experiences. What is your culture believe about mental health and your view on it? Right.  And then we have social and that's that we are not created to be alone. Right. Two are better than one? And there's plenty of evidence that supports that our social health and community plays a big role in our overall well-being.  And then there is the spiritual right, which is our prayer life and how we stand on scripture and what we believe truly, not just what's in our bio scriptures, in our bio, but when we're tested by fire, what do we believe to be true about God and ourselves at the end of the day? What is our foundation of truth?  So all of these dynamics play a role in our mental health and any one of these things can malfunction. And so it's getting to the root of what those are. But typically, once we kind of get that perspective, that holistic perspective understood, then people are a little bit more humble to sit back and go, okay, maybe there's more at work and we want to be more understanding and compassionate when we don't have all the answers to meet people where they are.  Ashley Abercrombie: So good. I love that perspective because I was one of those people who didn't get delivered out of anything immediately. Anybody else. It's like, Lord, can I just could you just push me through to the other side? And that just was not my story. And I'm so grateful that people weren't pushy around me because I would have felt like my faith wasn't good enough.  So on top of dealing with addiction, on top of dealing with some things, you know, dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, trying to overcome all the habits from my past. If people really had pushed me that way, I think that I would have sunk because we need to know that God is for us and that if we don't get immediately delivered out of something, because the Bible also talks about working out your salvation.  So it's not like you suddenly go back to a different life when you get delivered. Amen? Like you wake up with the same people who are in your house. You go to the same job the next day. You have the same relationships. You're trying to figure out. You know, God would have to remove all the people in order for us to have a completely clean start. And that's not what he does. So this idea that we can recover in the way that God made us, it's not just one part of ourself I think is really powerful. So thank you for sharing that.  Brittney Moses: Yeah, we still have a lived human experience that has been stored also in our brain, in our body, like it's very associative, our experiences. We still maybe have triggers that we have to work through, especially in terms of trauma, just on a physical level, you know. And so I think that when it comes to healing and deliverance, we have to leave room for the process as well.  Yes, God can absolutely do anything. There is no scope that he is, you know, tied into. But sometimes he works through a process, right? Sometimes he works through people. And a question that comes up a lot is, you know, what about what if it is spiritual? Like, what if it is a spiritual stronghold?  You know, even among the church, people have different views about deliverance. But if we just look objectively at the Bible and we are just consistent, whenever in Scripture there is a spiritual stronghold and that person is delivered, they are instantly restored to their mind.  You know, when you look at Matthew 17:18, and a boy is brought to Jesus and he's suffering and Jesus delivers him and he casts it out. It says that from then on he was well, from then on he was well. So in these biblical cases of deliverance, you see an instant restoration.  So when I you know, when I'm in church and, you know, we're praying for folks, this is earlier on and we're praying for deliverance. And all of that is wonderful. And so true. What happens is for some people, there is a process and we have to leave room for that.  And if there isn't an immediate restoration, right, if they are still suffering, if they are still struggling, then there's a little bit more in mind. So we may have used all of our spiritual tools and we're noticing there's more. So now we have to pull out some other tools and we have to use all the tools in our tool belt, because ultimately the goal is that we want to see people set free. We want to see people healed. We want to see real transformation and solutions in their lives. And we don't just want to limit God to one way of doing that.

COMMON CAUSES OF ANXIETY

Ashley Abercrombie: Right. So good. Well, speaking of the minds, anxiety is seriously on the rise everywhere.  Brittney Moses: I'm anxious right now. Yeah.  Ashley Abercrombie: I love that so much. Can we give it up for Brittney? Just encourage her and love her. Yes, we really are. A lot of people are. Why do you think anxiety is such an epidemic and what are the tools that we need to deal with it?  Brittney Moses: Anxiety, my favorite. No, that's real, because anxiety is actually the number one mental health condition, not just in the US, but in the world. It's actually something I did my thesis around in at UCLA because it's it's so prevalent. And, you know, when looking at the primary source of stress and anxiety among Americans, according to the American Psychological Association, it's it's two things.  I wonder if anybody can like, guess what the two things are that are making everyone stressed and anxious.  That's a good one.  That's fair.  Money and...  And relationships, that's fair.  And work. Work.  Work and money. Y'all are like yeah, Britney didn't need to tell me that. I already know, where's my degree? I'm out. Yeah, it's money and work, right? That tend to be -- and that makes sense, right? But then when looking at anxiety conditions as a whole, there are a variety of anxiety conditions such as PTSD, and that's rooted in trauma. You have panic, you have generalized anxiety disorder. You have phobias. Right.  Brittney Moses: And so there are individual cases and each case has its own reasons. So really what I'm trying to say is there's not really one thing we can point to, which is why everyone is having anxiety. However, we can make some speculations. Like you said, social media. Right now we have social media and now it's more salient, more in our face people's lives than feeling like we're behind in some ways feeling like, you know, we're not doing as well in some way or we're not enough compared to others. There's this term FOMO, right? Fear of missing out. Everyone has something going but me. What's up? And then there's JOMO. Some of us have JOMO, which is the joy of missing out. Thank God you cancelled those plans.  I didn't want to go anyway. I'm chilling, right? Some of us have JOMO. But really it's, that's definitely, definitely part of it. And then we can even look at nutritionally -- I'm going to go there -- because I love looking at things holistically, especially in the Western diet. We have a lot of processed foods, we have a lot of added sugars. And while sugar is not the cause of anxiety, it is certainly linked because it causes this spike in blood sugar and this really quick drop which releases cortisol and adrenaline in the body, which is the body's stress response.  And so it can increase those feelings of anxiety. So there are some things that we're looking at. We're looking at our modern American diet. We're looking at, you know, social media. And then now I'm going to, like, flip the table and like converse everything that I just said, there's a thought that is it really rising at all? Or is it the fact that now it's not as taboo to talk about?  We're having more conversations about it. People are more aware. So now people are, you know, talking about it more or getting more help for it. And so now we see more of it and maybe it was just under-reported before. So these are kind of all of the all of the things that we're looking at when we think about anxiety. And I think the bottom line is, you know, we have to we have to take care of we have to assess our own situations. Right. What's contributing?  Ashley Abercrombie: That's really good. Can you talk a little bit too about, you know, having this phone at our fingertips? Like obviously social media is one thing and FOMO and JOMO, I'm into this but also just our access to global news and to crises and trauma after trauma. And I really think maybe you could unpack for us a little bit about first and second secondary trauma, because I think about what we're watching, what we're witnessing in the world, the things we expose ourselves to. How does that affect our mental health? What is this doing to our neural pathways like? How are we connecting? Like, what's it doing to our heart posture the way we think?  Brittney Moses: Yes. Okay. Yes. Secondary trauma. Like when you're witnessing these deaths, when you're witnessing these things that are going on, it definitely affects us. And I oh, and I would say and I was saying to someone like, I don't think we were ever meant to process so much bad news. Like at one time, I don't think we were meant to process that.  And so especially with the pandemic, you know, and everything that was going on it and it's and it's shown like mental health professionals will advise you limit your level of bad media of negative news because it can exacerbate your mental health. So boundaries are fair. And I think that sometimes the the fear is like I need to be in the know, like I need to know what's going on so I can advocate, so I can speak up on this on social media, it's like, take care of yourself.  The world will keep on going totally. Things will keep on happening. And there is only one of you, you know, and also, if we get too taken away into these things now, we're being distracted from what we ultimately are meant to do. And we can channel that into positive change, which is what I believe in instead is where we're focusing our energy.  Yeah, but, but with social media, you know, it's what they've, what they've shown, especially with young adults, with teens. It's not just the social media itself, but it's how it's being used. You all hear this, it's a tool, you know. And so if someone is kind of mindlessly scrolling and just intaking and intaking, then yeah, that's going to exacerbate you versus someone who uses that as an extension of staying connected to their relationships or to influence positive change or as another medium for what they're passionate about. That can be a very healthy and helpful thing.  Brittney Moses: So it's how we're using it and the boundaries that we're creating around it. I mean, some of us, we're logged in. Like we've been logged in since we started Instagram, like, you know, and there's this constant hum in the periphery of our lives of social media. So log out or if you have an iPhone now, you can delete it off the screen, but it's not like deleted from your whole memory, right? So little things like that, we just have to be mindful of.  Ashley Abercrombie: It's so important. I feel one of the things I noticed is that our tendency when we don't deal with our pain or our trauma or perhaps maybe the habit or the addiction we might be dealing with, is that we tend to push everything outward. So it's so much easier to mindlessly scroll or become enraged about whatever we want to be mad about or to, you know, think, think, think on, on this thing that we read an article, a news piece or whatever, instead of actually like putting it down and tending to your day, the ordinary spaces that are right in front of you, you know, the ordinary thing that's right in front of you. Being present is so important and I feel like it contributes to anxiety when you don't do that.  Brittney Moses: And you were speaking of the neurological and like physical side, which is like my favorite. So our bodies are like wired for safety and survival. So when we are constantly seeing danger, danger, danger, our body goes naturally into this fight or flight response. So it is very activating. And the thing about social media, which I think we've talked about, is we see all these things that are close enough for us to get upset or angry or outraged about it, but then not enough to actually go and channel it, you know, or do something with it. And that's very common in our culture right now.  So even when we see these things, I think it's important to be intentional and think, okay, what do I do with this information now that I have it, what is my role with this information? Is it for me to actually do something with it? Is it for me to do something relationally with it, to have a conversation in my safe spaces? Or am I going to advocate? I think that if we can get more clear about what that information means to us and being intentional with it, then it just doesn't just overwhelm us and just sit there.  Ashley Abercrombie: Yeah, that's beautiful. A dear friend of mine, Chanel Dokun, she talks about three areas that we have in our life. And the first one is areas of concern and you could throw anything in there. So anything you feel concerned about, you know, it could be a big global issue. It could be a social issue, could be family, it could be whatever it is, it's an area of concern. And then you have the next bucket is like it's an area of concern and you have a little bit of influence over it.  So maybe there is a positive step. You could take a conversation that you could have a way you could advocate. And then there's the third level, which is area of concern. You have a little bit of influence and you have control over it. And so when those three line up, that's where you want to give your best energy and your best time, because that's where you can actually make a difference. And I thought that was really helpful.

EMOTIONAL MATURITY & SPIRITUAL MATURITY

Ashley Abercrombie: This was a question that came in from someone in our church. It's kind of circling back a little bit, but I think it's important. How would you counsel a person who tends to spiritualized relationship issues? Oftentimes this person is skeptical of counseling, psychology, teachings on emotional health, etc., because they feel like it doesn't address the spiritual roots of problems like demonic strongholds, generational curses, spiritual attacks. Now, I know you kind of talked about this a little bit, but what would you say to a person that does this?  Brittney Moses: Yeah, I think that there can be some skepticism with the psychology world, with the therapy world, because I think people are a little unsure about maybe what people's motives are. I hear a lot like are they going to introduce some new age-y thing into my therapy session? And I just want to say like that is totally unethical for someone to come in and try to change your beliefs.  Any trained, competent, ethical therapists goal is to meet you where you are typically at intake. They're going to even ask you like what your belief system is. And I even say, even with a Christian therapist, we just -- food for thought, even among Christianity, there's a spectrum of theology and beliefs. And so even still, there's this aspect of I need to -- the therapist, the therapeutic relationship of -- I need to figure out where this person is and meet them where they are and honor where they are and those beliefs and work from there.  So any, you know, culturally sensitive therapist, which is what the goal is, culturally sensitive means, whether it's, you know, their racial background, their cultural background, their belief background, the goal is to meet people where they are.  So I think there's a stigma about that, maybe because there's a misunderstanding about what the training actually is. And keep in mind that if you're ever in a therapeutic situation that seems a little shifty and it's just not working out, you have the autonomy to leave and to find something that's a better fit for you.  So there does come a point in anything where we then use our own discernment to see, is this right for us? Is this a fit for us? Whether it's therapy or any other situation.  Ashley Abercrombie: That's beautiful. I feel like that intersects with, you know, family of origin, too, because, you know, in the south where I'm from, we have a culture code where it's like you don't talk about our business and you don't take it out of this house, you know, and maybe some of you have experienced that, too. And so I think if that intersects with this idea that God also doesn't believe in this or that I should be able to be delivered out of it, then the the barriers to getting the help you might need are significant. Like they just keep growing. And so it's just important to recognize that. Thank you for sharing.  Brittney Moses: Yeah. Especially I'll say, you know, some of us with our mental health, we're just trying to kind of manage it, right, trying to better our mental well-being. But there are others who are severely struggling like this is a life or death matter like it is, I mean, they're on their last rope and it's not just something in their head, it's something physically based, you know, and and in many cases, some help is better than no help and will often save a life. So we also don't want to create boundaries from people's access that could really help save their lives. And so that's what I'm passionate about, especially that starting point.  Ashley Abercrombie: Which is huge. Yeah, I love that. So our staff at church has been talking a lot about emotional maturity and what that looks like in discipleship and how in faith circles sometimes there's a disconnect between emotional maturity and spiritual maturity. So maybe you could just talk a little bit about what is the difference?  Brittney Moses: Yeah, I'm just going to throw this out there, there's a great book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.  Ashley Abercrombie: That's what the staff just read.  Brittney Moses: Oh, there you go. That's a great place to start. Yeah. And for some reason there has been this distinction between emotions and spirituality or even reason in a way. And I should preface this by saying it's very western culturally based. Like if we go all the way back historically to like Greece and Aristotle and Socrates and all those fun guys, there was this big debate about whether emotion or reason, you know, emotion versus reason, as if the two couldn't coexist and and inform one another.  And that view has actually really pervaded Western cultures, because not all cultures believe that way. And so there has been this, you know, you know, emotion versus reason and self-discipline. And I actually argue that the more in-tune we are with ourselves and aware of our emotions, the more we can act in discipline right when we're leaned in, when we know what's going on with us. Right. And so, yeah, there tends to be this disconnect. So I love this idea of partnering with God in our emotions, you know, because we have emotions for a reason. Again, God gave them to us for a reason.  I love in Scripture where he says, "be angry, but sin not."  Ashley Abercrombie: That's hard.  Brittney Moses: Right? The anger, the anger is a valid emotion. There's a reason we would have anger because we've been violated in some way or we're hurt or we've been in pain or misunderstood. Right. And that part is valid. The emotion and the information that it's giving us about our situation and about ourselves. That part is valid and worth looking into, but sin not right.  So it's the the behaviors and the actions that we take on that emotion. But we can have that in-between space with God where we say, okay, God, this is what I'm feeling for real. You know, this is what I'm feeling. This is how it's affecting me. Lord, give me the wisdom of what to do in this situation. Or Lord, show me what is the root of these emotions, what is going on?  You know, when we ask for wisdom, I believe that God wants to give that to us. And so instead of this kind of God versus emotions, is this God partnering with us in our emotion so we can be emotionally healthy with those or with ourselves first, right? Because we can only be as connected to others as we are with ourselves and then having that, you know, outpouring to others. So it's very important to our interpersonal relationships.  And when you bypass those things, when you store those things, when you suppress those things, then your emotions own you, right? Then they're running you in the background of your life because you're not operating in awareness. So it's all about, you know, you see in Scripture so many times that God wills that we would come into maturity. You hear the word maturity a lot mentally and emotionally and spiritually, and I do believe that's his will for us.  Ashley Abercrombie: Yeah, that's beautiful. I feel like if I had a rewind button, I would rewind it back and listen again because that was so good.  Brittney Moses: I could do it. Yeah.  Ashley Abercrombie: We can rewind it later on the YouTube. That's how we do it. You know, I think the triggers that we face are important to talk about. And I think sometimes when we use this word emotions, because I'm I used to be very not dialed into my emotions. So I would often think like, oh, very, oh, that person's really emotional. Like, oh. And what I realized is, so am I. I just handled it differently. So I think sometimes when we talk about this idea of emotions, we think about somebody who's overly expressive or maybe aggressive in the way that they live their lives.

AN OVERVIEW OF TRIGGERS

Ashley Abercrombie: But the truth is, you can be emotional and sweep it under the rug and keep, you know, freeze and keep going through the motions. But on the inside, you are just a ticking time bomb. And I don't think we talk about that enough. So can you talk a little bit about triggers? What triggers us and how do we face those triggers and like really start to integrate our emotions, emotional maturity and our spiritual maturity?  Brittney Moses: Yes, triggers. Everybody, let me just pre-face this by saying, like, everybody's level and intensity of triggers are different. Right. In cases of like severe complex trauma, PTSD, panic attacks. Triggers are a very physical thing that usually need a little bit more extensive help to work through. So now what I'm talking about is going forward is kind of the common experience of there was something that was said that hit my body like they said, something that hit my body or now I'm crying, I'm emotional about it and I don't know why it hit me in some type of way, or it triggered anxiety or it triggered your defense, right? Your defenses.  Brittney Moses: And triggers really come from past experience. As I said earlier, our brain is associative. So every experience that we have in life, our brain stores like it stores in our memories. And when something has been psychologically, physically, emotionally harmful and detrimental to us, our brain stores that information so we can again, we're wired for survival and for safety so we can prevent ourselves from harm. So our triggers are associated with that.  Now what happens is you can get into a different situation and it feels similar to the past, but it's different. But you're still triggered, right? I'll just use relationships, for example, since this seems to be a relationship crowd. Lots of relationship going on here. For example, say someone was in a relationship and maybe it was abusive or maybe there was infidelity and there was a lack of trust. And the the signs of that decline was, you know, they stopped calling me. They stopped messaging me. There was a disconnect in communication when these things started happening.  Well, now you get into a new relationship and you notice there's a disconnect in communication. But maybe it's because they're busy. Maybe it's because there's a lot going on. But you have this stored association that when this happens, it's a sign that the relationship's going downhill because that's the association that you've made based off of past experience.  This is like a very much lighter example. And so now you're triggered and there's something called an amygdala hijacking, which was found by American neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux. And what he found is that the fear center of the brain, which is the amygdala, it's almond shaped in the center of our brain. It activates when we're triggered, it activates faster than our frontal lobes. Our frontal lobes are responsible for the thinking and planning and reasoning center, the stuff that kind of helps us plan through it. But our fear response literally, physically, biologically activates quicker because all it knows is that you need to either fight or flight, protect yourself or flee. And so something that I always like to encourage is to practice the pause, you know, take some space and realize, okay, my body is hijacked by fear right now.  My body is hijacked by its defense system right now for whatever reason. And we don't want to act out of that fear. Right, because now our perspective is painted by fear. So there's something to be said about pausing, especially the more I think the more reactive we feel, the more we need to pause. Totally, you know, the more that we feel it and say, okay, let me let time for this to subside. Maybe I need to take some deep breaths.  Maybe I need to have a drink of water. Maybe I need to journal, work through it, you know, and then let me revisit the situation before I send that text back or give a response or respond to that comment or whatever it is, you know, to leave time for that to subside.  So triggers are very real, they're very physical, they're very biological. And it's your it's really your body partnering with you to protect you. And sometimes even just repeating to yourself in those situations, I am safe, right? I am safe in my body. I am safe. God has me. We're going to be okay. Just to reinforce that back to your brain and body to help reduce some of those symptoms is helpful. It's a real thing.  Ashley Abercrombie: It is a real thing. I do that. I have to tell myself I'm safe and I'm loved. And the practice the pause, I'm going to take that with me for life because it's just so much more simple than how I have been framing it in my brain. Like I have to slow down and stop. But just this idea of practice, the pause, like, that's a really great way to think about, wait a minute, why am I shutting down? Why am I freezing? Why am I suddenly disconnected from my body? Because I think sometimes we've been taught that we have to separate our body from our mind and our emotions, but our bodies telling a story to us that we need to listen to. And so it's so important that we do that. So practice the pause. That's really powerful. Thank you for that. Is there a basis for pursuing mental health help in scripture?  Brittney Moses: Oh, my gosh. Yes. So, you know, I'm comfortable saying that, you know, in Scripture, we don't explicitly see write therapeutic practices for mental health in the same way that it's not a book for teaching you how to, you know, fix a broken leg or something like that, right? However, you know, it's the overall picture of Ephesians 2:10 where you are created for good works to live out in Christ Jesus. And God has called us to show up for our lives, not only for those around us and to be a light, but it's incredibly hard to do those things if we are in mental bondage.  It is incredibly hard to do those things if we are not seeing ourselves correctly, if we are not seeing our relationship correctly, if we are not seeing God correctly because of these mental, these real mental blocks. You know, we talk about the upward, inward, outward relationship, right? And how those are affected. And so I think it's based on the premise that God has called us to life and life abundantly. God has called us to freedom. God is called us to good works. And in order, in order to do those things, we we really need to have a sound mind. We won't have maybe have a perfect mind, but we can work toward having a sound mind so that we can live out who he called and created us to be. And I believe that that is the basis that we have motivation to make sure that we are spiritually and emotionally and mentally healthy.

THERAPISTS & RESOURCES

Ashley Abercrombie: That's beautiful. Thank you for that. Okay. So I can't believe our time is almost done. I feel like we could talk about this all day.  Okay, so tell us if people wanted to find a therapist, what would you suggest? And let's talk about the real deal here, because most people can't afford a therapist. I know from most seasons of my adult life, that has been true for me. Yeah. And there's no shame in that. And I think we should talk about it more. Yeah, because very often I think people want help and don't have the right insurance that provides for them or they don't have $200 a session they can spend every week. So talk to us about how do we look for a therapist and if someone's in a hard place financially or maybe they're doing okay but don't have any extra, what do they do? What kind of help can we get?  Brittney Moses: That's so real and that's why when we're talking about mental health care and trying to better help people, it's not just individual. It is very systematic. For one like that, that QR code is great. I'm so glad. Can I just say the fact that you guys have a church that wants to have this conversation around mental health, can we give it up for that?  Because that's not every -- that's not everybody, to have leaders who really do care about your mental, emotional and spiritual health. It's not everywhere. So yeah, definitely not to take that for granted. So, you know, for starters, when it comes to typical mental health care, oftentimes you can go through your insurance, if go through your insurance to find a mental health care provider that's in your insurance for those who have it. That is the easiest way to do it, that is covered. So you can go or you can go through your provider, you know, your doctor, they can oftentimes refer you to mental health care within your network as well.  You can also go to online databases like PsychologyToday.com and the great thing about that is that you can filter. There's actually a filter option, you can filter for, you know, if you want a Christian therapist, you can filter for if you want to, a male therapist, female therapist, Latino therapist, black therapist. There are all these different filters you can go through if you really want to find someone who's at the intersectionality of your experience.  The other thing is that if you are kind of low cost, sometimes therapists have a sliding scale that you can ask about. If they have a sliding scale rate that's based on your income, that's an option. Something that I've been a part of in the past is NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness. It's a free community resource that has more group facilitation.  So I was a group facilitator for those in the San Fernando Valley who were living with the diagnosis. People can just show up, it's free. So NAMI is great. And then there's the crisis text line. I've also been a crisis counselor, so I know the training is great, it's ethical, it's non-judgmental. Wherever you are, people genuinely are there to hear you. You don't have to be in a crisis. We call it a warm line. If you're just distressed and you need someone to talk to to hear you out, you can text home to 741741 at any time, 24/7. That is a free resource you can use.  There are also psychology clinics and these are, this is often at colleges and universities. These are psychology students who are advanced in their learning, their training, and they also have a supervisor, but they're trying to also get their hours and working through that. So they also offer low cost options. That's that's an option as well. So those are some places to start and they should be on that on that website.  Ashley Abercrombie: On this QR code on the back, we actually, I could not find better resources than what was on Brittney's website because it was so extensive. We have plenty of other resources on that website as well, but we put a link specifically to her mental health resources. So if you'd actually like, you didn't have time to write it all down. Make sure you get this so that you can very easily access the things that you're talking about. So tell us, what is one thing you would want us to know about faith and mental health Brittney Moses: Oh, I think in reducing stigma is that you can be a Christian, you can love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and still struggle with the human experience. Right? It doesn't make you less Christian. It doesn't make you less of a person of faith. As we talked about, there are a number of dynamics that contribute to someone's experience, and the more that we understand it, the less that we we shame ourselves for that experience and that there is there is help and there is support and there is change with the right with the right help. And so we have to just be willing to use all the tools in our tool belt to walk out that freedom and those good works that God has for us.

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