So you’re facing a problem. You realize that you can’t go at it alone. You muster all your strength, overcome your pride and finally seek the help you know you’ve needed. But what happens when you’ve sought help but have been left feeling worse than before? Been there—done that—and it’s no place you want to be.
There was a time in my life when I struggled with severe anxiety and depression issues. I can’t count the number of therapists/counselors I saw, books I read, scriptures I quoted, medication I downed, all to realize that—at the end of it all–I still had all the same issues, only worse. Hopelessness set in as I believed I had done everything I possibly could to overcome my problems, but it wasn’t enough. It felt like the misery would never end. I remember feeling alone in a dark, deep pit of emotional despair, which further perpetuated the depression and anxiety. I came across Proverbs 13:12 again: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” and it couldn’t have rung more true with me. My heart was sick.
At one point I received the opportunity to counsel with a really wise Pastor—someone I trusted who could help me for sure. We met regularly and she counseled me for some time. After many sessions of not hearing what I wanted to hear, I remember walking out of one of our final meetings feeling emptier than ever. I felt so incredibly disappointed that I didn’t leave feeling how I wanted to, and it made me feel alone. Was her counsel bad? No, in fact it was the wisest advice I could have received. So where did this go wrong? Thinking back, I was only focused on how I “felt.” The truth became apparent to me: I didn’t want to change; I wanted someone to nurse my wounds as I sat back and self-destructed. There came a time, however, when I had to make a decision—was I going to continue to live in despair or would I choose life?
Is your heart feeling sick? Have you tried to get help before? Here are some tips to help you get the most out of the counsel you have gotten and/or the help you will be receiving.
Seek Wise Counsel
It is to the utmost importance that you not only seek help, but that you get the right kind of help. There are a lot of well-meaning people who give subpar advice which can actually prove to be even more damaging than not getting any “help” at all. Finding the right counselor will provide the best road map to your journey toward healing (not to mention road-side assistance when the going gets tough).
Find someone you trust who truly knows and lives out the Bible and is willing to meet with you regularly—preferably a Pastor, mentor, or trusted friend. There is no greater truth than that found in the Bible. Someone who has embraced the Word will show fruit of that in their lives. This is the kind of person from whom you should seek advice.
Find someone who has successfully overcome the same areas in which you are struggling. What better person to relate with than with someone who has been through the fire themselves and survived! This is the type of person that can sympathize and offer practical advice on how they overcame their problems.
Choose Truth over Feelings
It’s common for emotions to cloud your mind during difficult situations, but you must place your “feelings” aside in order to move forward. When I sought counseling, I used to have the attitude of “it’s easier said than done” and I kept saying and thinking “it’s just too hard.” Again, these were just emotions flaring up, creating excuses that were unintentionally keeping me trapped in my situation. I was finally advised to stop saying it was “too hard” and to use faith in God’s provision and authority in order to overcome my situation, regardless of what I was feeling.
Remember, Truth supersedes fact. Your problem might be a fact, but God’s Truth over you has the final authority. And His Word says there is love, hope, freedom, joy, grace and healing for you! Don’t let your feelings destroy your desire for the better life that is available to you.
Make Real Changes
Take counsel for what it is—simply counsel; advice designed to “steer” you in the right direction. It will not and cannot fix everything for you. You must do the remainder of the “driving.” The reason I spent so much time trying to “obtain” help rather than live out the advice was because I was expecting to automatically feel better after getting help—after all, isn’t that why you go get counseling? But nothing can be further from the truth.
No one can do your push-ups for you. If you truly want to overcome your situation, you must change your approach. Albert Einstein is commonly credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Regardless of who quoted it, it was a brilliant statement. The result of change is always “change.” You can receive the greatest advice ever and still fail unless you apply it.
“Wisdom is knowledge applied. Head knowledge is useless on the battlefield. Knowledge stamped on the heart makes one wise.” – Beth Moore
Advice that goes in one ear and out the other is useless. It may take some time–and yes, there will be challenges along the way, but persistence is the key. Get help and then implement the advice to make the necessary changes in your mental and physical world.
Don’t be trapped in a helpless cycle. There is hope, regardless of how you are feeling! Choose life! Don’t give up—help is out there and waiting for you. Are you willing to do your part?