Author Todd Brown

Are you unstable?

Don’t take offense that I would ask. I’m not suggesting that you’re mentally ill. But you might be out of balance physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you are, you are probably, right now, struggling with being joyful—even faithful.

I want you to picture a three-legged stool. Can you see it? That stool is good and steady on its three legs, but if one leg is broken or missing it will topple onto its side. The stool would be of no use to sit or stand on. Unstable.

We are put together by God a little like that three-legged stool. As human beings created in God’s image, we are comprised of three primary facets: our physical, emotional and spiritual selves. In other words, our body, mind, and soul. Each of those facets is dependent on and affected by the others. When one “leg” is hurting, the others hurt and work to compensate—balance out—the whole. If that takes too long, or if the imbalance is overlooked, a person becomes unstable.

Think about it: if you’re physically compromised it wears on you emotionally and spiritually. If you’re hurting emotionally, it can make you physically ill. When you drift spiritually, it messes with your mind and makes your thinking susceptible to temptation and deceit. Every part of us hurts when we get out of balance.

The ancient Greek philosophers observed this interplay of the three. They recognized that the body (soma) the mind (psyche) and the soul (pneuma) were what made us unique from the animal world. They taught that the leveling of these three would bring wellness to the whole man.

As a counselor, I very early on encourage people to take a close look at each of those facets. They might be dealing with a certain issue that brings them to my office, but unaware of the source of the issue. For instance, I’ve had people suffering from depression and confusion because of an addiction to soft drinks! Toxic levels of sugar in their bodies (soma) that interfered with clear-headedness (psyche) and had them bottomed out spiritually (pneuma). When they broke the addiction to sugar, their depression went away, and they were able to put their prayer life back together.

I often find that one of Satan’s most effective lies in a person’s mind is something like “You’re not good enough! How could God really love a loser like you?” When a person believes that long enough, it can bring hopelessness and despair. They overcompensate physically (food, sex, addictions, lethargy) and surrender spiritually to a joyless, prayerless life.

It’s not always easy to detect where the brokenness is, but good counseling involves a real exploration of the cause/effect of the three facets.  Counselors often overlook the spiritual. Too often a counselor only addresses body and emotions when a hurting soul is what is impacting the other two. While I advocate medication when it’s necessary to help achieve balance, it’s too often administered without any acknowledgment of the role the soul plays in mental wellness.

As you seek balance in your life, seek counsel that helps you address body, mind, and soul. Get a good physical. Open up with someone about emotional pain. Seek prayer and encouragement in your spiritual life. Most of all, pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal instability in any of those three facets.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 New International Version