Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What God Thinks of You (and why it matters)


As a therapist, I sometimes get to talk to people about their faith or spiritual beliefs.  I don't open that door until a client does, and I don't disclose my beliefs unless explicitly asked (which happens a lot less than you might think!).  But lately I have found myself sitting across from an increasing number of people who could benefit from hearing this sentence:  God loves you.  

Even as I type it, it sounds cliche and a bit trite...which is frustrating because it has been a powerful truth in my life.  Yet somehow along the way, it became a quip well-meaning people often throw at one another when they were having a bad day or a stressful season of life.  So I don't mean it that way. 

Maybe a better way to say it is:  You are unconditionally loved by the God who sees your hurt and hurts with you.  You haven't been forgotten.  You are beloved, on your best and worst days.  Your performance doesn't change His love for you.  He looks at you and sees beauty.  His heart is so tender toward you.  He has a plan for your future that is for your good.  Don't give up.  Don't despair.  He has overcome the world.  He looks at you and He is pleased with what He sees, whether or not you feel like He is.    

I obviously don't say things like this unless my client has expressly requested Christian counseling.  But I'll be honest...as a therapist, sometimes my words do fail me.  When someone shares an extremely difficult childhood with me, when they share unspeakable grief after losing a loved one, when they tell me they have contemplated hurting themselves, when they can hardly get the words out discussing a past they are ashamed of, when they are paralyzed by anxiety and nothing has helped so far...all these things leave me with less to say, less wisdom to offer than I would like.  

I'm writing this because it's important for people to know that therapists are mere humans who don't have it all together themselves, whose lives sometimes also look messy, and who don't always know the right thing to say.  Often the best gift we can give to a client is our full presence in their pain.  I am honored my clients allow me into that sacred part of their lives.  

I think most people have contemplated God...whether or not He exists, whether or not He is good, whether or not they believe in Him.  Those are all wonderful, important things to consider.  

But a part of me wonders what would happen if people spent just as much time contemplating what God actually thinks about them.  If they read and studied, and got their questions answered, and realized that what God thinks about them is, simply:  He loves them.  

Why does it matter what God thinks of us?  Why does it matter that He loves us?  Well, when you have experienced trauma, when you feel like hurting yourself, when you feel like no one gets you, or your anxiety is through the roof, I think it begins to matter.  As a therapist, I could look at a client and say, "You got this.  Keep going.  You are beautiful and amazing.  Your performance, good, or bad, doesn't define you.  This, too, shall pass."

But to me, that sounds even more trite than "God loves you." Because who am I to say that to them?  I am an imperfect human, doing the best I can to encourage them and give them hope in a difficult time. Yet God looks at them as a loving Father does and has the power to actually change their circumstances.  And whether or not He chooses to, He loves them.  I care about my clients, and wish them the absolute best.  But there's a huge difference between that and the unconditional love of God.  

So, I would posit that it does matter what God thinks of you.  It matters that He loves you.  It matters that He won't ever change His mind about you.  Not ever.  

Since I don't have as much opportunity to say it in my practice, I would like to say it here, in my own little corner of the internet. Whether things are going great for you, or whether you are hurting tremendously, whether you are celebrating a huge victory or putting the pieces back together after a crippling defeat, whether you have everything you could ever want, or you are desperately wondering if there's more to life than this...God loves you.  

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. The other idea I have found helps my anxiety is: God tells us to not worry or be afraid.

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