One of my professors recently assigned a project that brings together our worldview and our field of study. I was asked to describe my worldview and to apply it to my major. This, for me, is counseling. Despite having completed the assignment two days ago, I am still sitting here slightly in awe, processing what I learned. It is as if a door has been opened to how our view of God infiltrates every piece of our lives. While I already knew this in words, processing through my perceptions of mental health and counseling made this truth tangible. And so, I determined to share this small piece of what I am learning with you.
Here is an integration of my worldview and counseling.
I believe in a sovereign, triune, creator God. Not only is He a god, but He is the one God. I believe that God is perfect and holy. He is just and therefore must punish sin. But at the same time, He is love. God loves His created people so deeply that He sent Jesus to receive the punishment for our sin and raised Him from the dead so that we can have new life. Jesus is God’s Son. He is fully Man and fully God. God is sovereign and has intentionally weaved each detail of our lives into His story for the world that has already been written but that is still to be brought to completion.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love” Jeremiah 31:3
Mankind originated when God intentionally and purposefully created man in His image. Because of the Fall, man is inherently evil. Sin is more than just an action. It is our nature. Despite this, man still does good works because they are made in God’s image. But, it is only when someone trusts in Jesus as their Savior that they become good in the eyes of God.
“It is because of Him [God] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God- that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30
My values are often found sitting with a cup of coffee. Time with Jesus. Conversations with dear friends. Productive hours. Making plans and dreaming a little. These values that are evident in my life reflect hope that God will show up when I seek Him. They reflect cautiousness against using time unwisely and a desire to serve others that is found in the purpose of my productivity and my dreams. But, they do not reflect the value of faith in that my hours of planning and productivity are often done without asking God how He would like that time to be spent.
I believe that there is such a thing as truth. There are people and media that I trust, but ultimately it goes back to the Bible. I trust my parents. I trust my professors. I trust my best friend. I trust my favorite author. But, I view what I learn from these sources through the lens of Scripture. The extent to which I trust them follows the extent to which they align with the Bible. This is because truth is found in God. He created reality. We may believe in different realities, but the fact of the matter is that only one is true.
A good argument contains both reason and emotion. We are created to be emotional beings and should therefore value emotions. But, we are not meant to be ruled by them. Factual information and reason should come alongside emotions to form conclusions and to make logical decisions.
There exists both a physical and spiritual world that cannot be separated. The physical world is evident before my eyes. I wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, and snap the clasp of a necklace closed around my neck. I see people and sense the touch of their hugs. I walk and dance and sit and laugh. But beyond what can be seen with my eyes and touched with my hands lies the God who created it all. He breathes life into my lungs and gives value to my soul. He sees each move that I make and ties it back to His Story. Beyond this earth lies heaven and hell. The physical time that I experience is fleeting compared to the eternity that will be spent with God.
God created both the physical and the spiritual world. They are not meant to be separated. Nouthetic counseling pulls the two apart by opposing psychology and claiming that scripture is sufficient for all human difficulties. While it is true that all things are spiritual and that God is the one who heals, this should not be separated from physical realities. God often chooses to work through the physical. When two things are separated that were made to coincide, they do not thrive just as these flowers have died. This is not to say that psychology is the ultimate answer, but that God uses it to do His work.
Just as physical illness is real, mental illness is too. Just as medicine and therapy are able to bring healing to physical pain, they are able to heal emotional pain too. Another similarity between the two is that God is the source of healing. He is the one that gives the study of medicine meaning. He is the one that gives psychology a purpose. Psychology and Scripture can work together when the former is viewed through the lens of the latter. When the Bible is elevated and God is seen as the ultimate Healer, psychology can be used as a tool by God to bring healing and to point people to Himself. When the physical and spiritual world are ordered to work together as they were created to, life is found.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness says that depression is the leading disability worldwide. I have not experienced it myself, but a close friend of mine lives with chronic depression. From her young teens, she has walked through life with this illness, many mornings unable to set her feet on the floor. I cannot imagine the pain she experiences, but she has shared snippets of the darkness that she finds crippling. Depression is heart-breaking reality faced by millions today .
Studies cited on mentalhealth.gov say that 9.4 million adults in the United States have had serious thoughts of suicide in the last 12 months. Let this break our hearts. This number does not even include the teens for whom suicide is the second leading cause of death. Millions of people around us are spinning in circles grasping for a purpose to hold on to. They have lost hope in life’s worth. 90% of those who take their own life have a mental illness. What would happen if we acknowledged the reality of mental illness while infiltrating it with the hope of Christ? Imagine the people who’d choose to say “yes” to life.
God is able to restore.
“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” Psalm 40:2
Not only is God the one who creates, but He is the one who restores. He is able to mend the broken-hearted. Not only does He care for our souls, but He cares for our entire beings. This includes mental health. God’s heart breaks when He sees His children question their value and when they cannot escape darkness. He hurts when His children seek to release their pain in harming themselves. He desires healing and is the One who is able to provide it. It is through Him that doctors make diagnoses and that counselors ask the right questions. It is through God that medicine is able to balance chemicals in the brain. God is able to re-write our stories.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” Ephesians 3:20
God is purposeful.
“My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 119:15-16
God is sovereign. He is purposeful in His creation of us. He has reason for the numbering of our days. Nothing is by mistake. God can be trusted with the details of our lives and with the very value that they hold. When life seems to be spinning in circles, we put our trust in God, knowing that His work is intentional.
restoration may not come… yet.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Just because someone is good and believes in God does not mean they will experience restoration on this earth. A young girl suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder may not experience freedom in building relationships. A lady on the street who is homeless may never settle in her own home with a full stomach. A dad struggling with depression may not know a season that sadness does not overshadow. God is able to restore. For a reason that I do not know or understand, God does not always choose to restore in this life. But, Scripture promises that there will be a day in which every tear will be wiped away and when pain will cease to exist. There will be a day when God will bring peace to all who call on His Name.