Life is full of contradictions and challenges that we encounter, regardless of how we may try to avoid them. As believers in Christ Jesus, our lives are no different. We find ourselves conflicted in the space between our faith that contrasts uncomfortable feelings and realities that challenge us to our core.We won’t have a prescribed answer for every uncomfortable situation that surfaces. When it comes to navigating unexpected problems with God, we may try to spiritualize our challenges, pray them away, or ignore them as if they don’t exist. However, the Lord doesn’t expect us to figure our lives out but rather trust wholeheartedly in Him.
We don’t always realize it, but God isn’t intimidated by our emotions, afraid of our questions, or overwhelmed by the inherent contradictions we face. God experiences emotions, as we note throughout the pages of Scripture. He made us in His image and likeness, in every way, offering emotions as a gift.
We don’t have to run from what we feel or hide it from the Holy Spirit, who knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. In fact, with everything, the Father desires that we approach Him boldly, confident that Jesus, who came in human form, fully understands what we experience even where we can’t make sense of our internal workings.
Emotions as indicators.
Our emotions are meant to be an important part of our human experience. The Holy Spirit wants to counsel us in the areas where they serve key roles, and enhance our lives with richness and depth in what could be an otherwise flat, nondescript existence.
We can find a similarity in the body’s experience with pain receptors. Physically, they indicate where we need to pay attention, research, diagnose, and treat an issue. Emotional pain and mental distress, in like manner, signal a need for us to pay attention, investigate, and nurture an internal need or concern.
While it seems easier to distract ourselves by diverting pain into an activity, an addictive substance, or another person, we deny ourselves the opportunity to get free from its vice grip when we dismiss it. Often, trouble that we ignore will spill out somewhere. When it does, it’s multiplied in ways that can be more challenging to navigate.
While culture and society may epitomize mental and emotional strength as something that an individual shoulders alone, that is not the ideal approach for resolving issues of the heart that continue to surface in unhealthy or dysfunctional patterns of behavior.
Among the many approaches to nurturing our mental and emotional wellness, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT is helpful. It doesn’t just assist in sorting out what we feel, but it helps to dig deeper than our actions and emotions to explore and understand the thoughts behind them.
The case for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
While changing what we feel may not be so simple, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help us to funnel our efforts into shifting our mindset and our behaviors. CBT supports us in addressing negative thoughts and limiting beliefs to interrupt and replace them with balanced truth.
We come to understand ourselves better when we recognize what we believe, often as a result and response to trauma or experiences that have impacted us significantly.
When negative, the thoughts that filter through our minds and populate the narratives we tend to believe about ourselves and others can be destructive. They persuade us to submit to a lesser view of ourselves and others than God intended.
These distortions skew thoughts, dysregulate our emotions, and disrupt our behaviors to reflect cycles and life choices that are often less than God’s best. They can also produce a chain of negative events and consequences in our lives.
Belief and behavior.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of many sound therapeutic approaches. It can be useful, helping us to embrace the truth we know and understand as believers while countering the lies found in limiting beliefs.
The evidence of what we believe, whether positive or negative, is reflected in our behavior. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy addresses distortions or misshapen thoughts that inform our interpretation of information, negatively shaping what we feel, and consequently choose to act upon.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help us to steer a new course with our mental and emotional wellness, but also to forge our spiritual development as we trace the unfolding of Scripture’s reality in our own lives.
What we “think in our hearts,” as Scripture says, reflects the core of who we are (Proverbs 23:7). When we present all of ourselves back to the Lord, as part of continually offering our lives for His glory, that includes our minds as the place that manufactures the thoughts that precede our actions (Romans 12:1-2).
The Word of God transforms us, changing the landscape of our lives, from the inside out as the Spirit of the Living God renews our minds to reflect Jesus. Agreeing with the Word asserts confidence in our true identity, even as Christ is, in this world, so are we (1 John 4:17).
The Holy Spirit helps us to interrupt and overthrow the negative thought patterns that block us from receiving the truth of His Word and replacing them with what is honest and true (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Philippians 4:6-8).
As much as we may understand that belief precedes behavior, the reverse is also true in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT notes the relationship between our behavior and the impact it has on our beliefs about ourselves. This can be especially encouraging when we consider James’ admonition that our faith, what we believe, is demonstrated in what we do (James 2:17-18, 20).
By acting on the Word of God and embracing its truth, even if we haven’t yet experienced the full manifestation of what we hope to see, we reinforce the Bible’s authority in our lives and yield permission for it to actively rewire our minds and reconstruct how we think.
This isn’t a form of wishful thinking. This belief is a confident representation of what the power of the Almighty accomplishes in and through us when we trust Him enough to follow, without having all the details or understanding.
The blessing of both/and.
We can do nothing on our own, but only through the power of the Anointed One, Christ, who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
While Jesus was prophesied to be the Wonderful Counselor, God has also provided human counselors to support us with those areas where we need Jesus and therapy (Isaiah 9:6).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is not an “either-or,” but rather a “both-and,” that offers an advantage to promote our spiritual development while stimulating emotional and mental health. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can support us with changing the content of our minds and also address and uproot what has contributed to low moods and unhealthy behavioral patterns.
No matter how daunting or difficult the prospect of coming to therapy may seem, we are never beyond the reach of our loving Savior. He is God and He can lift us from the pits where we have slipped (Psalm 40:2). He is compassionate and empathetic to fully identify and understand what it is like to be us.
He did it for us when He walked this earth as Messiah, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He does it with us now, through the Person of the Holy Spirit, empowering us to make positive, enduring changes that don’t just reflect transformation in our behaviors, but also bring us the abundance of peace and joy from the inside out (John 14:26).
Next steps to pursue Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
As you consider counseling, remember you aren’t alone. God is present, willing, and able to help you change your life by changing your mind. There is no shame, but rather a celebration in embracing the full range of spiritual and practical blessings the Lord has afforded.
Search this site and schedule a meeting with a professional who offers Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You are making sound choices to receive support from Christ and counsel that will shift the course of your life.
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