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God is My Therapist

God is My Therapist

 
By:  Jesus Vargas October 14, 2020
#AmazingNation, #How-To, #Live, #Strength , #Winning, #Wisdom

Thomas was a 22 year old Hispanic American male born and raised in New York. He entered the room and sat on the edge of the most comfortable seat in the space. He explained that it was his first time seeking a therapist. I noticed his breathing seemed a bit heavy and his leg was shaking. As the initial intake (initial evaluation) began he explained how he was referred by his primary doctor after he was unable to find a physical medical reason for constant heart palpitations. As the intake went on, I observed he was very reluctant to answer most questions. “I don't really believe in this therapy stuff. I’m a Christian, God is my therapist” he said as I began to look through his anxiety and depression scores. “Spiritual counseling is actually something we can incorporate, can you tell me more about the role God plays in your life?” I asked, seeking to understand his perspective. “Well I don't have the strongest relationship with God but I know it could be stronger”. “Sure, that can definitely be a goal we can set in therapy”. I went on to point out to Thomas that his depression score was considered moderate to severe as well as his anxiety score and that it was definitely somewhere to start if he was willing. Thomas decided to go home and think if he would like to begin his sessions. After a few weeks he called our office and set up an appointment. Thomas went on to lower his depression and anxiety score immensely through therapy and trust in God.

 

The main details of this individual have been changed to protect his privacy and legal reasons but the story is not an uncommon one.  Many times we miss the mark by forgetting how much God used and continues to use us, as vessels of his work (no matter how broken and imperfect we are). God used people like Moses, John the Baptist, and the Gospel writers to speak to his people. Although many of us are not gospel writers or prophets, we are doctors, ministers, therapists, teachers, friends, siblings, parents, etc.

 

Just like God used these individuals to speak words of love and truth to his people, he continues to do so day in and day out through professionals, family members, and religious. The problem is, as humans, it is almost in our nature to be fixers of our own issues. It is easy to ride to a quick fix that will lead to a harder crash in the long run. It is a little more difficult to let someone else help you drive. It’s even more difficult to let Christ take the wheel.  As a therapist, it is my job to help you organize your thoughts in a way that is clear and not overwhelming to you, according to the goals we have set up together. Through this process, a good therapist will help you assess the tools you already have that you aren’t using (or are using poorly) as well as give you tools that you can begin using. It's like laying things out all on the table and seeing what goes with what. Connecting dots and weeding out the things that are toxic or that no longer belong. 

 

PSALM 23: 4

 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me: your rod and your staff comfort me".

 

Just as a doctor will use various forms of medicine to treat an illness, as a therapist I am able to use different modalities to cater a treatment approach towards you. 

 

One of these is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)


CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems

So in english.. That is encouraging your thoughts to think different thoughts so that your thoughts lead to positive emotions.. which lead you to act differently.  

 

If you've ever been anxious about being anxious you know what I mean by “thoughts thinking thoughts”. 

Sounds simple enough right? Just think differently so you can act differently. 

 

The problem is .. many of us break the first commandment by worshipping our pain. If we think back to the old testament, Idolatry was the worst sin of Israel. 

 

This happened not only when worshipping the Golden Calf but at a point desiring to return to being enslaved in Egypt (Numbers 14:4). It was all they knew, and because it was more comfortable than a new painful situation.  And it's comfortable to go back to that toxicity ex.. It's comfortable to go to drugs, alcohol, even food, for quick fixes…. It's comfortable to isolate yourself instead of reaching out to those who care about you or can help you. It's comfortable to stay sad and be sad always because the process of healing is also not always pleasant. 

 

I know people who cannot stop talking about how much damage the world has done to them.(“If you can't say Amen to that say Ouch”). But what if I'm willing and I'm ready to work on myself no matter how uncomfortable it might get?

 

Brain Plasticity 

It is the ability of the brain to modify its connections or rewire itself. Without this ability, any brain, not just the human brain, would be unable to develop from infancy through to adulthood or recover from brain injury.

Think about this. Your God, your creator loves you so much that he created you with a brain that has the ability not only to compute and receive and output information 24/7, receive emotions, and facts, but that has the ability, to change, remap, and even rehab when it is going through the heaviest of things. This not only includes physical, but emotional. That is where CBT comes in. 

 

In order to begin to tap into this, we must begin with our language. The way we talk about ourselves may be pushing us down the road of worshipping our pain.

 

When we say things like: 

“I'm a failure” 

“My world is falling apart”

“I'm a mess”

“I'm a prisoner”

“I'm trapped”

“I'm going crazy” 

We’re declaring defeat to a subconscious mind that's always listening 

And even if we’re not any of those things … we’ll start acting like it. 


Now the challenge is this : 

Psalm 40:1 "I waited, PATIENTLY for the LORD; he inclined and heard my cry." 

 

PATIENCE… something many of us don't have.. Our minds are filled with short form content.. Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, even some of the best YouTubers have the shortest form content now. 

 

Many of these things are easier said than done (trust me, I've been there).  We must be okay with being uncomfortable and understand that this is a marathon not a sprint. We must understand that although we are trying our best we are not perfect beings. We will fall, but our heavenly father is so good he has provided us with help. Many of us are quick to give up after we’ve made a mistake but we know that mistakes are the breeding ground for grace and mercy. The bible is overflowing with examples of this.

 

Think about How much Peter deserved to become the first pope after all his mistakes Or to preach the first sermon in Acts… so let’s not choose to dig yourselves deeper by wallowing in our sorrows.. IT WILL BE DIFFICULT…but be patient. You are a masterpiece in progress. 

 

Some Practical Tips:

Self talk exercise:

Positive affirmations that are the opposite of your pain. 

For example:

1. I'm not a failure

2. I'm amazing

3. My God is stronger than my problems

4. "I can't" is not the same as "I won't" or "It's difficult"

5. I do have people who love me

 

Journaling:

Many times our thoughts can be overwhelming when we keep so many of them to ourselves. Journaling can help you organize those thoughts and express yourself. This can also be a form of prayer. God is a father who desires dialogue with his children. Try writing a letter to God about how you feel, maybe just allowing your thoughts to flow through pen and paper, or even telling God about your day. 

 

Giving yourself small gifts:

Part of loving yourself goes beyond just language. Don't be afraid to treat yourself every now and then. Buy yourself those Jordan's you've been wanting, maybe re-decorate your room with things that define you, or take a walk in the park just because. 


Literally counting your blessings before bed: 

Many of us do much of our overthinking right before bed. Less distractions, and the mind is focused on what happened during the day and what will happen tomorrow. Building a practice of gratitude can remind us how many blessings God showers us with each day that we look over which can lead to a healthier and stronger mind. 

For example; 1. I got to school on time. 2. I ate some really good food today. 3. I have people who love me. 


Prayer! 

Meditation can go a step further with God in mind. Allow yourself to breathe and be in the present moment for a while. This can be a daunting task for many people. Apps like “Headspace” have guided meditations you can listen to. Prayer, meditation, and mindfulness have been proven to help diminish anxiety and even panic attacks. 

  

photo credits  https://unsplash.com/photos/_af0_qAh4K4 https://unsplash.com/photos/_dICL6joLRk https://unsplash.com/photos/so1L3jsdD3Y https://unsplash.com/photos/3TQ8I-sR9a8



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