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Posted under: Culture Opinion

How faith and therapy together can heal your soul

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Growing up in the church, we were always taught to have faith in God. There were some times when I felt faith was not enough, and again I was told pray more, trust more. But one day my grandma, who raised me from birth, made the decision that maybe faith alone was not enough and sent me to therapy. That one decision, I believe, has been instrumental in my life. Now, don't get me wrong, I love God for loving me, Jesus for saving me and The Holy Spirit for guiding me daily. But I do believe there are some people in the world who need a relationship with the Trinity and need a relationship with a licensed therapist/counselor/life coach whatever you'd like to call them, as well.

Purpose for faith

Now, there is a time and a place for your faith, which is all day every day. We need to seek God at all times to guide us and order our steps as he would see fit. We should always know that we are not meant to live alone, but have help from our heavenly father and those he set us up to interact with on Earth. When you are struggling with finding your purpose, questioning if a choice in life is right or just how to feel about another person, God can be who we lean on for advice first. If you want to know if the person you are with is meant to be your spouse or if you need a financial breakthrough, again God will put you on the right path if you put your faith in him.

Purpose for therapy

But on the other hand, there are some things we need to have an honest conversation about regarding our struggles. Why is therapy so taboo of a topic, especially in the African-American community? Why do some in the church shun therapy? Consider this, God allowed medical doctors to help heal the sick. He gave them the desire to help heal, he gave them the aptitude to retain all the pertinent education needed to diagnosis a patient and God gave them the skilled hands to save lives. So why wouldn't he do the same for psychiatric doctors to do the same thing with the mind? Therapy is the opportunity to talk to someone outside of your family and friends who is unbiased and just wants to hear your concerns and help you to organize and resolve those concerns. Normally if you have a problem, you would go to a friend or family member or a minister or deacon who you could chat with a few times. But there are some problems that you might be too ashamed to discuss with people you know. It could be as simple as acknowledging that you don't know how to organize your life, or moving into heavier topics of battling depression, an addiction or even abuse. For all these things, a therapist can help.
  • Life coach — A life coach is a form of therapy to help you organize your life and career. You can go to them to help provide structure or advice on how to get the most out of life.
  • Counselor — A counselor comes in many forms in our lives. Students have a counselor at school to help with making the process of learning more effective when problems arise or when you need educational advice. You might go to a marriage or family counselor when you need to learn skill sets to better communicate with the most important people in your life if all parties don't align on how to resolve issues.
  • Therapist/psychologist — A psychologist might deal more with clinical issues that appear due to environmental circumstances or might be hereditary, such as depression, PTSD and other issues. They will work to put together a program that, over time, can help resolve or allow you to maintain a healthier outcome to better handle your struggles. Now sometimes you might need a psychiatrist, who is similar to a psychologist but can prescribe medication if your case warrants it.
You don't have to suffer in silence if you are ashamed. There is someone who is bound by law to keep your secret, but also help you figure out how to get past your shame if you just raise your hand for help. You can even find a faith-based therapist who will use their acquired therapeutic skills in tandem with the scriptures of the Bible to heal your soul.

Therapy and church

I went to an event where a friend was one of the panelists on a round table about women dealing with life. When they opened the floor to the audience, a mother who had brought her teenage daughter with her spoke up. She mentioned they did not have a great mother-daughter relationship and thought bringing her daughter around some successful women might help her and her daughter. Of course, the panel recommended the women utilize community resources (i.e. church, pastor, and the panelist offered to further help as well). But I felt lead by the spirit to speak up and acknowledge my broken relationship with my mom and that I needed therapy in addition to my church resources to help me move forward. By no means have I bonded my relationship with my mom, as it takes two willing participants to align nor am I completely whole yet either. But my grandmother sensed the pain I held in because my mom wasn't around and my grandma had the courage to acknowledge that I needed more help to heal, even though she knew she loved and God loved me. At the end of the panel discussion, a pastor who was in the audience who had spoken to the mother and daughter I mentioned earlier came up to me and thanked me. He said that most people in the church don't always feel comfortable acknowledging that they might need therapy in addition to their walk with God. Most feel God is all you need to survive in this world.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19
This scripture is a completely true statement, but consider my earlier point about doctors. God does indeed supply for all our needs while we are on Earth. He gives you a mother and father or a surrogate replacement (my grandmother) to raise and train you, he gives you the opportunity to learn from others and he allows us to leverage the things others learn or have the aptitude to do, such as a doctor/police officer/teacher, etc... I was so appreciative to hear a minister, no less a black minister, applaud the use of therapy, especially because in the black community we are taught to be strong and keep our feelings and shame to ourselves.

Therapy is not just for the weak or unstable

So God allowed therapists and counselors to be here to help us when we feel we our own perspectives are too off course. All who know me would categorize me as being a lovable kind of crazy, I think. But I indeed have battled depression all my life. That's why my grandma sought help when I was young. She saw that same thing in my mom and didn't get her the help she might have needed, so she tried to break that cycle for me. I am not ashamed to admit that from time to time I battle depression, as I believe we need to be honest and transparent to help break the cycle. This has helped to provide clarity and understanding in the times I had irrational thoughts or perspectives for my friends and family to know when I need their support the most. Also, therapy should not be labeled as something for the insane or weak-minded. For example, depression is a disease that many suffer from. Just like being a functioning addict, a lot of people function daily with depression and you wouldn't even know it.There have been moments when I felt like I've overcome depression and then there are days a single moment can bring the waves crashing back and I'm under the sickness once more. This illness is not found in just broken or abused people.

Faith and therapy

Finally, faith is very important in my life. My faith has shaped and formed me to be the woman I am today, flaws and all. My faith has made me a better person and it allows me to acknowledge that I always have room to grow. But on the other hand, therapy has helped save me too, as it helped me to put life into perspective and know what my triggers in life are. It works to provide some coping skills to combat my shortcomings. There have been moments in my life where, on paper, life seemed perfect and I was on track for more success, but mentally I couldn't leave my house or believe my life was worthy to anyone — including myself. In these times, I would always get on my knees and pray to God to help me. And I truly believe one source of help he put on my path was therapy. If you ever feel like life has got you down or you could use a shoulder to lean on, I highly suggest working to have a relationship with God first, but also know that there's additional help while we are here on Earth in the form of therapy to help us along our journey as well.
 

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LaDonna is a Brooklyn resident, by way of Texas. I've had a passion for good food since birth, always travel-ready for my next world adventure and have a love for God and a relationship with Him. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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