I look up Billy Graham’s advice once in a while and I liked the question posed on March 15th, 2012. High time I do a write-up about it.
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I’ve had a lot of emotional problems, and recently I started going to a psychologist someone recommended. I like her, but she’s very opposed to religion and thinks people must solve their own problems instead of turning to God for help. My faith is very important to me, so should I look elsewhere? — M.F.
People should be trying to find solutions to their problems and a psychologist can be a good start. It’s certainly better than diving into an Eckhart Tolle/Deepak Chopra style “self-help” guide, although nowhere near as cheap. If M.F. is going through depression or anxiety issues or OCD or whatever might be the issue, he or she should pursue the help of professionals in that particular field. If the issue is that this psychologist is not also an armchair theologian, why not ask to be referred to someone who will include the spiritual approach? At least s/he would still get the benefit of educated training. Graham agrees with me, but:
This person has already let you know that she has no sympathy for people who look to God for help, and almost inevitably she will try to impose her views on you.
Psychologists help individuals focus on what is causing the symptoms to manifest or intensify. Once the source of the condition is identified, psychologists work with patients to develop coping skills. Psychologists provide a safe environment to express one’s feelings.
If she’s being professional, she won’t push her own beliefs (or lack of) onto the patient. If this patient wants God to be a part of the process, she’ll have to work it in. I’m assuming this isn’t a situation where a cult member needs to be deprogrammed. If she’s unable or unwilling to use God as part of the therapy process then she should be the one referring this person to someone else. Yes? Maybe someone who knows more about this can pipe up in the comments.
Back to Billy.
But God loves you and wants to help you deal with these problems. One way he may do this is by leading you to someone who has the training to understand your problems — but who also shares your faith. After all, God knows all about you; he understands what you’re going through, and he also knows the reasons for it. More than that, he knows the answer to your problems. The Bible says, “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his” (Job 12:13).
Maybe it’s just me, but I find it amusing that people decide to fix something about themselves, be it their health or their outlook on life or what have you, and when they succeed they refuse to take the credit for the hard work and give it all to their God instead. God’s the reason I lost 20 pounds. God’s the reason I reunited with my estranged father. God’s the reason. God’s the reason. What can’t one’s own desire and determination be the reason? There’s no need to go overboard with the pride or arrogance or anything, but isn’t it something of a confidence booster to realize that you’re capable of solving your own problems? Be the success story. “I went through this and I made it through. It was tough and it was shitty and more than once I wanted to (insert quitter talk here) but I persevered and now I’m better…”
There can be enough strength in the self. Often there is enough strength in the self, but people aren’t always willing to put faith in that and instead put it into some external, invisible, ephemeral source and think that when they succeed, that’s the root cause. Everyday people behave like Dumbo did toward his “magical” feather. At least Dumbo saw the error of his ways eventually…