There is an old saying that claims that "time heals all wounds." Yet we know that time can pass while our grief remains acute. We also know people who hold on to bitterness and seem to carry their pain with them throughout life. It is as though time stood still as they continue to daily relive the pain of the past. Perhaps a better saying might be that "it is what you do with your time that brings healing." We can spend our time fixating on the problems or we can take time to explore them and gain wisdom. Professional counseling provides opportunities to look deeply into the pain that we experience and gain perspective to move toward healing.
I have heard people refer to counseling as "an expensive waste of time". They don't get how you could actually benefit from sharing your concerns with a counselor. They don't understand the healing that can be gained in a therapy office. Yet the reality is that there is so much that could be gained from counseling. Proverbs 15:22 tells us, "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." Therapy can keep you from getting stuck in your pain and guide you on a path toward healing. What might you gain from investing in counseling?
Grief is part of being alive. It is the flip side of being attached. We live in a broken world that has its share of pain. There are many losses that we will grieve in our journey through life. Being a human being in relationship will always be accompanied by some pain. We lose people that we love and bump up against disappointments that shape our character. It is important to process the grief that we experience and turn it over to God to find healing. Instead of wallowing in our grief, we can allow God to use our struggles to bless us and one another. A counselor can help us manage the struggles and lean on God for support through the storms we face.
A wise counselor can guide you to name your losses, put your problems in perspective, and learn how to manage your emotional responses. Counseling provides an outside perspective that grounds us and helps us make sense of our interactions with others. A counselor can help you explore the underlying causes for your emotional responses and help you gain better control over your emotions. A counselor can help you to respond to others wisely instead of reacting emotionally in the moment.
It is easy to get weighed down during conflict and begin to carry the horrible things that are said about us and accept them as truth. A struggling relationship can feel like failure and we start to feel like we are by extension a failure too. Counseling can help us remove the destructive labels and claim our spiritual identity. In counseling we can discover our true identity as a beloved child of God, made in his image, and deserving of compassion. Counseling can reshape our identity by helping us see ourselves through God's eyes and claim our identity as his beloved child.
In counseling we can learn how to establish healthy boundaries. Our actions often teach people how to treat us. Learning to set healthy boundaries can guide us to be treated respectfully and safeguard our families from abuse and addictions. Boundaries can help us to understand where our responsibilities begin and end. We learn that we cannot control the behavior of others, but we are responsible for how we respond. Establishing healthy boundaries is an act of self care that keeps us from submitting to recurrent abuse.
Children are not born with an instruction manual, and it can be challenging to guide our families through painful experiences. Counseling can give us wisdom about how to care for each member of our family. A trained therapist can help us recognize how our children process their emotions at different ages and discern how to guide them through challenges. Counselors can provide an outside perspective on how to support our relationships and manage conflict within our homes.
Where is your hope? Too often we place our sense of hope into our relationships, and when they fail it is hard to see a way forward. Placing our hope in people can lead to heartache, as they will inevitably disappoint us at times. We are all broken people who will fail one another. A wayward spouse may not leave the other woman or find healing from an addiction, but our hope needs to be bigger than than that one relationship. It is a recipe for pain if tie our hope solely to another human being. Our sense of hope and purpose should never be found in others, but rather in God’s unfailing love for us.
It is an important step to healing to discover how our behaviors have contributed to the crisis in our relationships. No one is perfect, and we can learn and grow from recognizing our culpability and cultivating healthier habits. Counseling provides a great opportunity to learn some skills for improving our relationships. A trained counselor can guide you to improve your listening skills or develop assertiveness skills. Counselors can guide you to establish and protect healthy boundaries to bring peace to your home.
Therapy is a gift to yourself and to your relationships. We seek the guidance of professionals in so many aspects of our lives--from styling our hair to maintaining our cars and homes. How much more valuable to seek professional help for managing our emotional health and caring for our relationships? Jesus came for us to have a life filled with joy so why should we settle for less. "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11). God's life of fullness is waiting for us. Choose a teachable spirit and visit a Christian counselor to help you live your best life.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra