Saturday, May 29, 2010

Forget the Counseling Couch - part 1

I remember the very first time that I sat down with a counselor. I don’t know if he was a psychologist or what (likely not because it was Meredith Junior High and I was in 7th grade), but nonetheless he was called the school counselor.

As for me, I was the class clown. I was considered by one teacher to be impudent. And at the time I wasn’t even sure what that word meant.

Regardless of what others called me or what I thought of myself, someone thought I needed to go to the counselor. Mind you, going to the counselors office was tantamount to going to the principles office (of which I’d been many times). So it was kind of like getting in trouble.

You know, the stigma that comes with going to the principles office and or the counselors office was usually because you’d been bad or gotten in trouble some how. So in 1974 I really didn’t want to be in the counselor’s office.

Well my visits to counselors (under compulsion mind you) carried on all the way into my collegiate years. I remember one time I was forced to go to one of the psychology professors for some counseling; all because of writing something on someone’s butt with a permanent magic marker. It seemed funny at the time, but the powers-that-be were not equally amused.

Then somewhere along the line a few years after I got married, my wife and I sat down with a pastor friend for some counseling. Mind you, we have a great marriage. We are best friends, lovers, co-workers, and partners in ministry, but we are so differently wired that sometimes we need advice. But once again the stigma of seeing a counselor for emotional or relational help loomed large over my head.

Being an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God and being a senior pastor of a church; some might think less of me because I didn’t somehow have my act together and needed to get counseling.

So are you getting the picture? Do you understand why most people avoid getting counseling? The stigma associated with the counseling couch is enough to keep most people bound up and helpless in their pain and struggle.

If we were less freaky about getting help – counseling – we just might be a bit healthier emotionally and spiritually, but somehow we’re afraid we’ll be branded as sick, crazy or something less than normal. God forbid that anyone finds the skeletons in our closets.

Well can I tell you? Most people I know are sick. Sick in their perspectives, sick in their feelings, and sick with lies they believe to be true about themselves, others and yes even God. Yet most of us either a) refuse to believe it or b) are too afraid to reach out for help.

My point: We have an Advocate. We have a Counselor. We have a legal assistant in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. And far too often we fail to approach our divine counseling team because we’ve attached some stigma (lie) to the idea that we need help.

May God help us to boldly approach our Counselor and ask for mercy and help in the time of our greatest need. For if we will Forget the Counseling Couch and just realize this person called Jesus, this person called the Holy Spirit, this person called God the Father really cares and will bring powerful counsel, healing and hope… the stigma will disappear and freedom and peace will come. Remember Revelation 3:20? It doesn’t really sound like nor look like a counseling session. It looks more like a friendly conversation over lunch. What a novel idea.

Last thought: It’s no wonder people are leery in their approach to the Counselor. I mean really, only sick or crazy people need a counselor… right?

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