counseling: don’t wait

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Have you ever wanted to see yourself from the outside?

More than randomly, I scroll through my own Instagram photos.

Tell me I’m not alone… make me feel a little less like a loser. If I am alone, I mean, that’s cool. I can take it.

I love pictures in general and look through them daily. But for some reason I’m so interested in the world other people see. It’s not all real. There are filters and forced poses and sometimes smiles from my kids that have been negotiated.

But I believe that we’re all looking to get a glimpse into what other people see. We watch other people, other families, and most of us probably wonder what the unseen looks like. Those people that we admire – what do their worst moments consist of? Do they lose their temper? What are they struggling with?

We live our own lives so closely, it’s pretty hard to get perspective. It takes a lot of hard, persistent work to be objective when it comes to your own junk, and even then, it’s biased.

It is beautiful to me that Jesus sent us a counselor in the form of the Holy Spirit. A living, moving Spirit of God living within you that can point out what’s wrong, comfort when you’re hurting, and help you fix the junk that you don’t know how to fix.

But this post is not about the Holy Spirit.

 

For years and years I have said the sentence “I think everyone should go to counseling” more times than I could count. I’ve always believed it. The problem is that either the culture we live in – or maybe just in our own, sometimes stubbornly independent brains, we view getting “help” as a last resort. We decide that we’re either crazy or just at plain rock bottom. And by then, it feels like we’re not just struggling to stay afloat – we’re actually drowning.

That’s what I did. I waited until the last possible second. When I knew I had no other options. I regret it now only knowing that I could have saved myself a few months of torture and rock-bottom moments. What I’ve learned since then is the value of hearing someone repeat your own words back to you, and admitting that you have something to learn.

This whole idea came from God. I’m gonna throw a few verses at you so that if you’ve ever wondered if “getting help” means you aren’t a good enough Christian, we can stop that thinking right now. Here are just a few:

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.” Proverbs 19:20 NLT

Wise men and women are always learning; always listening for fresh insight.”       Proverbs 18:15 MSG

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” Proverbs 11:14

Our culture has taught us that in order to be successful, strong and worthy, we must be independent.

God created us not only to need Him, but with a need to learn from others.

Counselors and therapists are the closest earthly idea we have to getting an outside perspective of our own lives. Their role is not to fix you. Or prove to you that you’re broken at all. Their job is to listen to you and help you find freedom and practical ways of managing your life.

Are they perfect? No. They are people who have families and lives and they also feel crazy half the time. Will you automatically mesh with a therapist you’re meeting with and your life will be fixed? Also, no. They are people. But people who have studied how to help. People who ask thought-provoking questions as their career.

I just wonder what it would look like to the world, that if Christ-followers stood up, stepped out, and showed what real strength looked like: accepting counsel. Speaking the truth to someone who is trusted to not just keep your secrets and your pain, but commits to help you work through them. And if you happen to seek out Christian-based counseling, you’ll have one more person praying to God on your behalf.

Because as smart as you may be, you cannot live outside of your body. You cannot see your life from an outside perspective because YOU ARE LIVING IN IT.

I wish I knew where you were. If you feel helpless, hopeless, trying every day to keep your head above water. If you feel like you’ve already drowned and you’re not sure if or how you could possibly get back up. Or you may feel fine. You’re living your life, you have good and bad days, and you are comfortable with just having those “things” that can’t seem to escape you. You’re doing okay, but you’re just not sure how to change.

 

I wondered, truly, what my goal was in writing these words and sharing them on the internet for you to read. I figured blunt honesty would be the best, so here goes. I’ve seen the value of accepting professional counseling in my own life. I’ve watched it in the lives of those around me. And I have spoken to more people than I could count who have said in similar words: “I’m just not sure what to do anymore.”

I wanted to tell you, you don’t have to feel that way. God, in His kindness, created people who have an innate desire to want to help others. People who want to help you feel less helpless; and be an active participant in your own life instead of watching from the sidelines.

If you’ve read any of my words for any length of time, you know that I am all about surrendering every part of your life to Jesus, and through His power we have strength. And in that strength, He gives us choices. He gives us the choice to fight for our thought patterns, to fight for the health of ourselves and our families. He provides for us safe places to feel and to process. And all the while, His Spirit will continue to do His job. If we’ll allow Him, we get the insane privilege of earthly and spiritual counsel all at once.

You don’t have to hit rock bottom to reach out. Let’s show a needy and broken world that, hey, we are needy and broken, too. No one fights this thing alone.

Whether you seek professional help or reach out to a trusted friend or mentor, don’t drown when there are people waiting to pull you up.

Form your purpose by asking for counsel,                                                                                  then carry it out using all the help you can get.”                                                                   Proverbs 20:16

 

 

 

 

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