Looking for Therapy?
Sometimes I have trouble keeping straight who’s in what generation. So I (again) looked it up:
Greatest Generation:Born 1910-1924 (95-109 years old)
Silent Generation:Born 1925-1945 (73-94 years old)
Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (54-72 years old)
Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (38-53 years old)
Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (22-37 years old)
Post-Millennials: Born 1997-Present (0-21 years old)
I wondered who was where because of this weekend’s Wall Street Journal article Millennials are the Therapy Generation (by Dr. Peggy Drexler, a psychologist from New York, WSJ, 03/2-3/2019, C5). If you’re a “Baby Boomer,” you’ve watched as your children have (largely) gotten over the “stigma traditionally attached to psychotherapy” and now often start their conversations with “My therapist thinks…”.
Millennials unashamedly pursue therapy out of (broadly speaking) two motivations. Either the perceived need for some help as they contend with their own personal mental health, or as another form of self-improvement and personal growth. Many seek out “life coaches.” One research firm discovered (2015) that “millennials spend $300 million a month on self-improvement opportunities.”
However, in seeking out therapists, many millennials are surprised to discover that these professionals will not necessarily provide answers for their quandries. They find that most therapists “rather help them discover the answer within themselves,” according to Dr. Elizabeth Cohen, clinical psychologist). She admits that a “therapist’s natural instinct is to listen and not give advice, [which can be] challenging and threatening to millennials.”
CAN THE HOLY SPIRIT BE OUR THERAPIST?
The dictionary defines “therapy” as the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process. That definition may be changing in modern parlance. Today “therapy” seems to be either corrective or preventive, or both.
The Journal’s article got me to thinking about whether we who are Jesus’ disciples eagerly go to the Lord, the Holy Spirit, as a first move. What is our primary tendency? Do we seek out God’s presence, God’s word, God’s voice first? Or is He simply one of the specialists to which we turn? Or, sadly, perhaps the last one?
Please don’t misunderstand. I am not debunking the need for godly counsel from others, even professionals whom the Spirit has called and trained through careful study in psychology and Scripture. The Scriptures trumpet that kind of help without hesitation (cf. Colossians 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, along with others)!
Yet I am underscoring that there is unique, life-changing “therapy” found in the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Help that available on a daily basis when we seek God’s presence daily. Romans 8:6 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 —
…but to set the mind on the things of the Spirit is life and peace.
All Scripture is breathed out by God, and thus it is uniquely profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for being trained in thinking and living rightly (well!).
SOME “CAN-DOs” FOR THE “THERAPY” OF GOD’S PRESENCE
From what can be learned from Mary (Luke 10:41-42), the habit of our Lord (Mark 1:35-38), and the echo of the Scriptures (Psalm 5, 59,88,92,143), we can find divine therapy in what to know and believe (teaching), what needs changing (reproof), how to change it (correction), and life-giving new habits of living (training in righteousness) from the Spirit and the Word.
Here are some helpful “can-do” steps:
“find your wilderness” (like Jesus, Mark 1:35), a solitary place to meet with the Spirit every day. Establish it.
“read and listen” – read Scripture (especially the Psalms, or one of the gospels, or one of the NT letters). You’ll hear the Spirit’s voice in the quiet.
“think ahead” – what is coming in your day in which you want God to be with you.
“wisely note” – any anticipated spiritual battles, tempations, etc. you know may be coming.
“ask Him for preparation” for what may be coming that you don’t yet see.
“listen anew” to the Spirit. He may ask for a new step of obedience and growth.
“prioritize well God’s agenda for you” – what are you hearing in your reading that God wants you to make more important in your life?
“default often” to the Lord in the parentheses of your day. Talk to Him. Listen for Him.
It’s good to seek the Lord’s therapy. He loves to offer it.
Might we start our conversations with, “My God thinks…”