Come As You Are
When I was in college, I began the daunting, sometimes (Lets be honest ... often) difficult process of looking for a counselor in order to learn how to manage my anxiety. My first thought was to find someone who was a Christian so that I could trust in their advice to align with my beliefs. I was also looking for someone who could give me the answers to achieve relief and freedom. Were either of these requirements wrong? No. But it also wasn’t an accurate picture of what counseling is or how to approach it. I also was not ready or willing to truly investigate the triggers of my anxiety in case they were not "godly"(which again... lets be honest... they won't always be. Surprise! I'm human.)
So I found a Christian counselor who was by all means wonderful. But I gave her an impossible task. I wanted her to fix my anxiety without being willing to be transparent about it. I made the mistake of assuming I could not be honest and vulnerable about my anxiety to another human being because I was fearful of being "wrong" according to my faith. I believed the lies that my anxiety must mean, "I am not trusting God enough", "If I prayed more, I wouldn't have this problem", "I must not be important enough to be heard by Him", etc. My mind ran with these thoughts (aka hello, anxiety), but I was not open with my counselor about them for fear she would agree with them. She never gave me any reason to believe she would, but this is anxiety we are talking about... it is not exactly rational. The immense fear to be vulnerable jeopardized and greatly extended my healing process. My anxiety did not change until I was willing to come as I was - overwhelmed, crazy, irrational and all.
Heres the thing... counselors cannot see into your heart and mind, and then dictate the best course of action. You do not receive some magical gift with your counseling license to all of a sudden be able to read people’s minds and know the "cure". Counseling is simply a space to explore yourself with the guidance of another perspective. That’s it. GUIDANCE TO EXPLORE. They do not and will not have the answers for you, but can act as a listening ear, guiding force, and skill builder when you need it. It is impossible to “fix” your problems without you.
This is why I love counseling. You know yourself better than anyone else – whether you realize it or not. So, when you are ready to seek counseling, I encourage you to come just as you are - not who you hope you are. Your story matters and is worth being told. I urge you friend, in wherever you are, do not put on a façade of living the “perfect Christian life” or “being a perfect, good person without any negative thoughts”. Those people do not exist, and it will only hurt you. Who you are now is enough.
As I wrap up these thoughts, I think it is important to also note that having a common faith with your counselor is a unique, joining force. It is a beautiful gift and important to harvest and grow. But just like any other component of finding a good-fit counselor, it is still equally important to find someone you connect with and can trust. Find someone who recognizes the truth and gentleness of the gospel.
I may never know you or have the privilege of hearing your story, but I hope you will feel the genuine desire of my heart for you to continue healing, growing, and learning without some of the obstacles I put in front of myself in my counseling journey.