Sunday was a particularly hard day for me. Seven of the eight core emotions—sad, hurt, anger, fear, guilt, shame, and loneliness—swirled in my heart in varying degrees throughout the day. To be fair, joy was sprinkled in there, too; however, by the end of the day, a difficult text and an emotional interaction with Jeff zapped me of any remaining energy I had to withstand the tsunami of pain I was navigating. I couldn’t wait to get to my therapy appointment the next day to process what was happening in my heart. I knew from experience that I really needed it.

As always, my therapist was more than willing to accommodate my desire for a longer appointment, so instead of my usual hour-long session, I did two hours instead. When it comes to healing, “Go big or go home,” I always say. Thankfully, I can go big and go home because my therapist comes to my house. Yep! You heard that right: Home therapy exists. And…it’s free! Here is my secret: Jesus is my therapist.

Photo by Jules Marchioni on Unsplash

While I am not anti-traditional therapy—I have a master’s degree in counseling, for goodness sake—I have found that God has a distinct advantage when it comes to healing hurts and wounds. First of all, when God is your therapist, there is no time limit on your sessions, nor is there a quota on how often you can go. (In some seasons of life, you may need a daily session just to make it through the week🙋🏻‍♀️.) Also, when God is your therapist, you don’t need to pay for any session, no matter how long you occupy His time. The crazy thing is, God seems to actually enjoy hearing my problems and offering His perspective on them. I’ve been meeting with my therapist, Jesus, for a long time now, and He never gets sick of me; rather, He loves me despite my brokenness. That’s a pretty awesome benefit if you ask me!

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

I’m convinced that there isn’t a person alive who couldn’t benefit from healing sessions with God. Each of us came into this world as an innocent baby, yet because of the fall, our soul was already stained by sin. David acknowledged this in Psalm 51:5:

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin, my mother conceived me.”

Thankfully, if you have come into a saving relationship with Jesus, the problem of sin has been taken care of. (This is because Jesus took the punishment for our sin onto Himself.) However, because we live in a sinful and broken world and are raised by parents who, despite their best efforts, will sometimes hurt us and let us down, healing from our hurts and wounds tends to be an on-going process. This is where therapy can be beneficial.

Therapy involves examining and gaining insight into the life choices and difficulties faced by individuals, couples, or families. This form of treatment aims to relieve emotional distress and mental health problems so that a person’s pain is transformed into limitless possibilities. Ideally, therapy guides a person into being their truest self— the one that God designed them to be. Perhaps there is no work that is more important than this.

Photo by Tachina Lee on Unsplash

Unfortunately, taking the first step toward healing can be the hardest part. Most people would rather bump along with their fears, relational challenges, and anxieties until they suddenly can’t. They count on their coping mechanisms to work until they suddenly don’t: a relationship breaks up; addiction takes its toll; patterns of sin keep repeating; depression sinks in…Any of those circumstances might finally compel a person to seek help. Sadly, this often means that life gets harder before it gets better.

Don’t get me wrong, before many people hit their breaking point, they will cry out to God to heal them from their personal and relational difficulties. Some common prayers are:

  • God, please heal my marriage!
  • God, please take my (depression, anger, anxiety) away!
  • God, please take my craving for (food, alcohol, drugs, porn) away!
  • God, help me not to feel so afraid!

While crying out to God is never a bad thing, it’s important to point out that asking God to do something about your problem is significantly different from entering a therapeutic relationship with Him. While God certainly is capable of supernaturally intervening to bring healing into a person’s life, He so desires a relationship with us that He often waits until we are ready to seek Him in a deeper and more intentional way. Granted, the process is not always easy or straightforward, but the benefits are worth the effort. I say that from experience.

Perhaps you’re wondering what that process might look like. I expect that therapy is different for everyone, but I’ll describe what it’s been like for me.

Although my sessions with Jesus don’t follow a set formula, there are several consistent elements that tend to form the foundation of my time with Him. This week, I’ll focus on what often happens when we first get together: I complain. I know it’s probably not super fun for Him to get hit with all my drama, but I always find it incredibly helpful to express all of the emotions that are bubbling up inside of me.

I don’t ever feel the need to explain the logistics of what happened to me—a fight with Jeff, for example—because having God as your therapist means He already knows what happened. I tend to focus on how I feel about what happened. I try hard not to filter my rants because there is a biblical precedence for us to “let it all out” in an honest and authentic manner. For example, in Psalm 22, David writes: “I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me, they hurl insults shaking their heads…” In this passage, David is transparent and authentic; that’s a model for how we are to process emotions in our sessions with God. While I don’t think I ever ranted about feeling like a worm to God, I certainly have written some things about myself and others that I would hate to admit in a public forum. Thankfully, I’ve not once sensed God cringing at my honesty in private.

The second reason I don’t filter my feelings is that I want to use that time with God to process everything bubbling up in my heart. For example, I may start out feeling angry, but as I let all of that out (which happens as I write in my journal), I often find another emotion—like hurt or sadness—hiding beneath it. The thorough expression of what’s happening inside of me is vital for ensuring I don’t get stuck in my anger. Indeed, the process of acknowledging how we feel within the safety of a trusted relationship is a critical foundation of the therapeutic process.

Photo by Kateryna Hliznitsova on Unsplash

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, many people of faith struggle with knowing what to do with their feelings. Some people ignore them, thinking that feelings should have nothing to do with our relationship with God, but this isn’t true! God has given us feelings as an expression of His image in us. We can feel anger, joy, hurt, and sadness because God feels those feelings too. Feelings are a gift from God and a sign that we are made in His image.

God fully expects us to come to Him with an honest expression of our feelings because that is how we build true intimacy with Him. Remember, intimacy means IN-TO-ME-YOU-SEE. Allowing someone else to see into our hearts is the goal of any therapeutic relationship. This is true even when God is the therapist.

This may be a good time to pause and consider whether you believe it’s safe to share your honest and vulnerable expressions of emotion with God. You may not, and if that’s the case, I encourage you to dig deeper to find out why.

Some people have been programmed to believe that if they admit to feeling rage or fear, they are committing a sin. That isn’t true. Jesus told us not to sin in our anger; he didn’t say, “Don’t be angry.” (Eph 4:26). Remember, feelings are not good or bad. They are merely indicators of what is happening inside of us. If you think of your emotions as an invitation to connect with God (and others), that perspective could transform how you relate to God for the better.

Perhaps you think that it’s not safe to share your feelings with God or believe that He doesn’t care about how you feel. If that is you, I again encourage you to dig deeper to discover why. It is normal to view God through the lens of our relationship with our earthly parents; if you grew up in a home where your parents were too busy or distracted to listen to you, you likely expect that God will act in the same way. You probably believe, deep down, that God is too busy or distracted to listen to you.

Alternatively, your family experience may have taught you that sharing your feelings wasn’t safe or allowed. Maybe you got sent to your room if you got angry or were told that your feelings were silly. If that was your experience, I suggest you take time to forgive your parents (or anyone else who created that reality in your life). Your prayer of forgiveness might look something like this:

“Father God, I choose to forgive my parents for being too busy to listen to my heart. I forgive them for teaching me that emotions don’t matter and for not being safe for me to express how I felt. I release them into my forgiveness. I refuse to believe the lie that you are like them Father God; that you are not safe for me to talk to. What is your truth?”

Write down what you see, sense, or hear. Ask Father God if it’s safe for you to talk to Him about all of your feelings—even the ugly ones. What did you hear Him say?

man kneeling

Once you have processed any hesitation that you have about sharing your emotions with God, I encourage you to book your first therapy session with Him. The booking part is for you to make the time since He is certain to be available whenever you are! As you plan some time to talk to Him about your worries, fears, and hurts, consider writing down what you say to Him. I find it very helpful to do that because I can read what I said and then read God’s response to me. I inevitably learn something new as I read what I journaled.

Next week, I’ll continue with this topic by exploring another aspect of therapy with God. In the meantime, I will be praying for you…

I’d love to hear if you give this a try! Please consider leaving a comment so others can learn from you.

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