A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
I am Stephanie (Nonie) from nonietalks.com. I was asked to take this verse and write a guest post for Jeff’s look into Ecclesiastes 3.
It would be easy enough to draw from the literal; for example, ‘a time to kill’ would be to perhaps kill an animal for food, or an invader for protection. ‘A time to heal’ would be to take care of one while they are sick. ‘A time to break down” could be something as simple as cleaning up after a party. And ‘a time to build up” could literally be the preparing, repairing, and/or building of nearly anything like a bicycle or a house.
I do not want to just take the literal interpretation of this scripture and break it down into the obvious. What I want to talk about is these 4 times as they relate to one’s emotional health.
Let’s talk about a time to kill. You are probably asking yourself, “what in the world would killing have to do with emotional health?”. I’m glad you asked. Dysfunctional relationships, over obligatedness, and bad habits are some areas we may need to examine for hitting the kill switch. It is so easy to stay in relationships that are stealing joy, sanity, and often safety from us. It is so difficult to say “no” when people keep asking for time, energy, and talents. It is so comforting to fall into habits that fill the void created by not dealing with the first two issues of relationships and obligations. I’m not saying cut everyone and everything off in your life that feels stressful, but to take a look at the level of time, energy, and commitment you give to people and things that may or may not be giving equal or greater return to you. Do you feel loved? Do you feel safe? Do you feel like things are lopsided? Do you feel like you can be yourself and still be accepted? Do you feel worn out and overextended? Is the thing you are obligated to really necessary or even your responsibility? These are the type of questions you need to ask yourself! It may very well be a time to kill some things* in your life in order to have a healthier mental wellbeing.
The adverse of that killing off of things would be a time to heal. Much in the same way we examine what to kill, we must also look at what needs to be healed… You had something pop into your head just now didn’t you? There’s a relationship or a breach in your life right now that needs your attention. You need to apologize, make amends, or at the very least make time for someone or something. As much as it is easy to let the bad continue to take advantage of us, it is almost easier to let things go unattended too long when we’ve probably been the one’s at fault. It takes a mature person to say “I messed up” “I’m sorry” “I can and will do better”. The thing about emotional healing is that you really have to be honest, really, really honest, with yourself, as well as others. Do the hard things, put in the time, and heal those things worth healing. You and everyone around you will benefit from your efforts to set things right.
A time to break down… yes I heard that deep sigh and I felt you clench in fear of what would be disscussed with this one. It may come as a shock. Sometimes the only way you’re going to deal with the things that have been out of order is to break down. No one WANTS to break down (at least I hope not). We want to be strong, to keep going against all the warning signs and flashing lights. Trust me, I’ve done it. And I paid for it. The break down starts and everything comes to a screeching halt. Smack, right into an emotional brick wall. Nothing left to give. Nowhere left to go**. It is awful, but it happens. It happens because we avoid, at nearly all costs to our own emotional wellbeing, the time to kill and the time to heal stuff. Now we are forced to take a cold hard look at why the break down happened, and it’s so much messier than it would have been if we would have just slowed down and self-checked some stuff. There is no guilt, judgement, nor shame being passed here. I made this mistake in my own life just this last year, but it arrested me in such a way that I was able to really evaluate things going on that I was not addressing and make some needed change. Not everything is as it should be yet, but I am accutely aware of what’s going on around and in me right now, and I am keeping my eye on it. Often a time to break down is invitable. You try to warn people that you just cannot anymore but they simply cannot see. Everything seems fine… most of the time. But one day you just start crying. BREAK DOWN. And now there are pieces everywhere.
Ok so now everything is in pieces. What is next? Don’t give up! It’s not over!! It’s a time to build up! Now with everything all at a stand still and parts all spread out, we can see what we’re working with. It should be easier to see what needs to be killed and what needs to be healed. We have an opportunity to put everything back together in a much better working order, to see what went wrong in the first place, and to hopefully build up a better support system for the future. A break down is a terrible thing and I hope you never actually have a time to break down, but in the event you do, it can work to your advantage in building up a better you.
The really cool thing about a time to build up is that it can happen at any point in your life. In fact, doing so may prevent a time to break down altogether! Always remember to make the effort to self-check your emotional health. Build yourself up by taking time to evaluate and be grateful for what is good in your life. Spend time with the people who love and care for you. Give back to the community that supports you. Remove the things that are causing you harm and robbing you of joy. Eat better, drink water, exercise, and gets some fresh air and sunlight. Take time to really learn to love yourself, because you cannot give what you do not have!
*This should not have to be said but I am going to say it anyway. Killing things off in your life is metaphorical. Remove things, end relationships, and say no. DO NOT ACTUALLY TRY TO KILL SOMEONE!!!!! This post in no way advocates any kind of violence or death towards another human being. Period.
**If in the midst of a break down you are having thoughts or feelings of suicide please talk to your doctor. There are may factors that contribute to the body and mind feeling broken down.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Other parts of Ecclesiastes study