By, Travis Gitthens 

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl 

Our participants come labeled with a variety of mental health diagnoses: anxiety disorders, anger disorders, addictions, stress disorders, personality disorders, etc.  More times than not, this puts the individual in the mentality that they are somehow subject to something out of their control that they have to manage the rest of their life with medications, a lifetime of therapy, or other coping mechanisms. 

This results in men feeling defeated, helpless, enslaved to a diagnosis, or worst of all, hiding behind these diagnoses as an excuse for their bad behavior. The very thing Mr. Frankl, warned against. 

“This is just how I am now. This is my new normal,” they say!  

“Only if you allow it to be.” We say in response. 

At Mighty Oaks we believe the Bible is authoritative and sufficient, and it doesn’t just offer a list of good ideas for us to try. It diagnoses the true condition of our nature and offers real solutions. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, 

 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 

This Biblical truth diagnoses the true culprit, my sinful nature, and gives hope of the promise that God won’t allow impossible temptation to overtake us but will provide a way out.  

The question then becomes, will I take that way of escape, or will I give myself over to my sin? Mr. Frankl and scripture agree that I get to make a choice in how I respond. There is no playing the victim or hiding behind a label. 

What about anxiety? I personally have struggled with anxiety and was even prescribed medication for it. The medication did nothing to remove the anxiety, it merely tried to numb it away… and took other emotions with it. God’s Word, however, speaks directly to this issue in Philippians 4:6-7. 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” 

It acknowledges that the anxiety is real, gives me an action to take to combat it, and a promise of “peace that passes understanding” to call on. Real action, real hope, real power, and no unpleasant side effects.  

In Titus 2 the Apostle Paul writes to Titus to encourage men to be “self-controlled and worthy of respect.” It seems obvious, but the Biblical implication is that we can be self-controlled, that we can conduct ourselves worthy or respect regardless of circumstances. It does not say “…unless you’ve seen combat or faced trauma.”

Our veterans especially need to be called to this and reminded of it. This is partly why one of the ways Mighty Oaks describes itself is as a “poke-a-vet-in-the-chest” program. But we “poke” as men who walk in the same shoes as the participants; we were all participants of the program once ourselves. 

Military & First Responder participants come to us believing they have been sentenced to a lifetime of living inside the prison of a diagnosis, or multiple diagnoses. Mighty Oaks points them to true hope, real healing, and rest for their souls through aligning their lives with the life God created them to live, in relationship with the Lord Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, with the Scripture as our guide.  





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