Day 14: Do the Work // 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness
Hi there! This is day 14 of a series I’m writing this October called 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness. You can find the entire series here: 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness.
The first time I went to see a counselor in college, I was so terrified I almost threw up in the tasteful houseplant placed thoughtfully in the waiting room. I didn’t like the idea of sharing my dirty laundry with a stranger, and I liked even less the idea that someone would be giving me advice that wouldn’t necessarily be Biblical. I communicate my thoughts much better in writing, so I wrote the poor woman a letter beforehand and brought it with me. She listened kindly and patiently as I basically told her I didn’t trust her and wanted Bible-based advice only. She explained that she didn’t specialize in Bible-based counseling but could refer me to someone who did, but it turned out that my insurance didn’t cover that person, so back to her I went.
Starting the process of counseling was awkward, but worth it. Eventually I figured out that, while I may have preferred Biblical counseling, there are a ton of benefits to be had in talking to someone who has professional training and has studied the processes of the brain in general. They have knowledge I just don’t have, and can share wisdom about human thought patterns, including how to form good habits and break harmful ones. Counselors and therapists can help identify the root of certain thoughts, too, and help us work through wounds from our past that could still be affecting our everyday lives. Counseling hasn’t fixed everything for me, and I still have a lot of work to do, but it has certainly helped me be a healthier person.
I’m not saying counseling is an easy fix – it’s pretty much the opposite. Therapy is hard, hard work. Harder than most people realize, I think. It’s a long slog through things you honestly wish you never had to think about again, and it will drag up feelings you wanted to forget. But working through our brokenness is never a bad decision. It always leads to being better able to serve and love others as we become better at caring for and living with ourselves.
Within the church, it seems like getting certain kinds of help can carry a stigma. Many of us don’t want to take medication or see a therapist, even if we could benefit from those things. Some people think that needing this kind of help would mean they don’t have enough faith. But I’ve found that God uses many tools to heal our hearts, including medications, therapy, books, meditation, support groups, and the community around us. He also uses Scripture as well, but be careful of people who suggest that the Bible is the only tool God can use for your healing. He is a big, big God who speaks many languages to reach us. If you are suffering, it is wise to reach out for help, not weak. My heart breaks when I think of how many believers I have met who are silently suffering because they fear therapy or medication, or have been led to believe they are not needed if only you have enough faith. The truth is, God doesn’t always choose to heal every issue with prayer and the Scriptures alone. Sometimes God chooses to use meds or a great counselor. And that’s okay. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about that. It doesn’t mean you have failed at your faith; it means you are working on yourself so you can better shine for Him.
Do the work. Your freedom is worth it. And you may be surprised later at what He does with you to set others free as well.