Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Not all help comes through prayer. Some comes through conversation. Friends help friends talk through problems and solve dilemmas. Sometimes, however, conversation with friends about challenges might not be helpful. Because friends sometimes have a hard time being objective.
I see a therapist. I have been seeing one for years. If that is some kind of stigma, well, it’s not a stigma for me. Why do I see a therapist? I don’t think I’m crazy. I explain it like this. Many of us have had the experience of filing mail in a mail room. You go into the mail room with a stack of mail and a big box with slots that have names on them and you file the mail into the proper slots. However, what if those slots didn’t have names on them? You’d have a stack of mail and you wouldn’t know where it should go. My therapist helps me to figure out what should go where in my life. He helps me figure out what is a big deal and what isn’t, what needs to be worried about right now and what can wait. He helps me to understand who I am and perhaps the reason I am how I am. We do this through talking about my past and my present. Yes, I sit on a couch, but I don’t lay on it. I go about every two weeks, which is the right interval for me. Some people go once a week, others multiple times a week and some once a month. He just helps me figure out how to file the complicated things that comprise my life.
In addition to a therapist, I have a “spiritual father”, an Orthodox Christian term that defines the person who helps guide one spiritually and also the one who hears your confession. My spiritual father is also a person I go to for spiritual help and objective advice. Because he is a priest, he is better able to understand the unique challenges of my job since he shares in the same job.
Between an Orthodox priest who serves as a mentor and a non-Orthodox therapist who is completely objective, I have the help I need to talk about my challenges and get help to get things to fit where they go.
There is another scenario for which we all need help. It’s when we are confronted with something we don’t know how to do or something we don’t have. Here is the analogy:
You are invited to go for a 20-mile bike ride with some friends. You know it will be fun to be with friends and some outside time would do you some good. The problem is, you never learned how to ride a bike. So, if you go, you are likely to get hurt and embarrassed. What do you do? There are four options.
1. You can go with the friends, likely get hurt and embarrassed. So that really isn’t an option.
2. You can tell your friends you can’t go. But they will be disappointed.
3. You can tell your friends you were once a biking champion but got hurt and can’t go bike riding anymore. This is the option that most people choose because it gets you out of going and saves face, in fact, it may even impress some people. We call this option the big lie.
4. You can grab a friend and tell the truth, that you don’t know how to ride a bike but would like to learn. Perhaps the friend could get you a bike with some training wheels, which is totally embarrassing for an adult, and go to some secluded parking lot and help you learn. What’s involved here is honesty, patience, and humility. The person who wants to learn must be honest and humble about not knowing how to ride. The person who has been asked to help must be patient and non-judgmental in teaching. They also need to keep a confidence that their friend needs help and not share what could potentially be embarrassing to the person who is just learning to ride a bike. Option four is the best option here, because there is truth, there is growth and ultimately there is success.
Most people choose option three. Going back to that idea of creating an environment where it is safe and expected to be honest, when we have that environment, people are more likely to choose option four, which is the best option. Absent of that kind of environment, people will continue to choose option three and go nowhere.
We know that in the Bible, even Jesus needed help carrying His cross to Golgotha. A man named Simon of Cyrene was conscripted to do this. We should not wait to be conscripted to help. We should offer help freely and without judgment. And we should feel confident in asking for help that we will not be judged. Proverbs 11:14 says it perfectly: Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Lord, there are times in my life when I know I need help. Help me to have the courage to ask for it. Surround me with people who can help me without judgment. Most of all Lord, I need Your help to be the person You created me to be. Give me strength and wisdom and patience and all the things I need to serve You, using the talents You have given me. Help me, save me, have mercy on me and protect me o God by Your grace. Amen.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Look to help those who need help and do so without judgment. In my humble opinion, many people could really benefit from seeing a therapist.