Professional Counseling {Tool 21}

When my church leaders offered me the position of Children’s Ministry Director, I stepped back in wonder at God’s timing. And not in an overjoyed way. God had been making a way and preparing both me and my church for this. It was very obvious to me and others that he was opening the door and asking me to walk through it.

But I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be in so many ways before accepting this kind of leadership position. I felt snowed under in every area of life, barely hanging on, in many ways. I’d had to say no to many things I loved, even my writing, just to survive daily life. So the timing seemed bizarre.

That was in August. I took the position. Suddenly I felt immense pressure to perform perfectly and be this phenomenal leader who never missed anything and always arrived to church at exactly the right time. Yet I still had 3 toddlers and my physical health was worse than I realized. My anxiety was through the roof.

By November, my nutritionist and my pastor had both recommended I see a Christian counselor about my anxiety. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but I decided to try it and see. God’s timing in the leadership position turned into the catalyst I needed to grow in much deeper ways.

Before that experience, I’d heard leaders advocate for seeing a counselor, and I honestly had an open mind about it but didn’t realize the deep value of it.

But it has been such a helpful tool in my recovery and growth as a person. Having a trained outside source walk us through our struggles and help us see what we can’t makes a huge difference. Counselors can help us understand the science of our brains and how hurtful patterns form in our thinking. If they are Christ-followers, they can help sort through the lies contrary to God’s word that are shaping our thoughts and fears and point us to the truth.

My counselor pointed me to a handful of resources I’ve been using this year (and blogging about in this series) that have helped me grow, as well. Some of the statements she’s made have been life-altering for me. One thing she’s helped me identify have been patterns I see in myself that I don’t want to continue. Parenting patterns. Leadership patterns. Inner fears. People pleasing struggles.

A couple of notes…
If the therapist you’ve seen hasn’t helped, it’s probably a matter of personalities or worldview not matching yours. Do not feel guilty about switching counselors. And seeing a counselor is a normal thing. Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, while we sometimes need to medicate them physically, often have a deeper root that can be addressed to help us deal with the physical symptoms. I’m currently on a vitamin B supplement that is crucial to managing my anxiety, but sorting through the harmful thought patterns I’d developed has been just as important as the physical treatment.

We visit a physical doctor when our bodies are ill. It makes sense to visit a therapist when our minds are weighed down and our hearts broken. Jesus came to heal and restore what is broken, and the Bible speaks of loving God with all our minds and taking every thought captive and being renewed in our minds. Sometimes we need someone who is trained to help us walk through that process of healing.

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