When I think about being a therapist and my past feelings about therapy, a big smile appears on my face. I smile because I still cannot believe how misdirected my personal feelings about therapy once were.
I used to think that therapy was only for “messed up” people—you know, those who could not deal with their own problems.
I thought the only reason I would ever need a therapist was if something really dramatic and horrible happened, like maybe if my parents died, or if I was assaulted. Yes, therapy is for those times in our lives when things get to be too much to deal with on our own, but I was so wrong about the kind of people who need it. Honestly, it is people just like you and me.
While in college, the person I was dating suggested I go to therapy. My response was, “What? Me? Why?” I was a young student at a Bible college, living a straight life while feeling attracted to women. Of course I had plenty to talk to a therapist about, but at the time, I felt therapy was not for me.
After a few months of thinking it over, I decided to give therapy a try. There was something about the idea I could not let go of. I was curious—what if it could help me?
Today, I can honestly say that therapy changed my life in the most beautiful ways, and I am so grateful I took the leap.
I will never forget the gentle, safe and peaceful place therapy quickly became for me. It became a place I looked forward to going each week. While I wasn’t ready to fully accept myself as a lesbian during that time, my therapist laid the groundwork for the radical self-acceptance and love that I would find later in my life.
You see, a therapist helps create a safe place in which you can begin to wonder what it would be like to fully be yourself. Sometimes, you don’t even know the parts of yourself that are hidden until you have a safe place to uncover them.
The question of, “Who am I?” is one every person asks, but it is even harder to answer for Christians within the LGBTQ community. Being gay and Christian is often a very lonely, scary place—a place where you wonder not only will others love you if they knew the truth.
Ultimately an even bigger question arises: "Will God still love me?"
For those of us who are LGBT, self-acceptance can be a difficult process. Allowing a caring, educated therapist into that process is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself. There are also times when life is so painful and lonely that the soft, soothing hope of a therapist is the only salve that eases the pain.
Now a therapist myself, I am honored when others share with me the stories of their lives. I cherish the process of walking alongside my clients through the tears, laughter, pain, joy and hope. It’s a place I believe God is in. It is Holy ground.
As a therapist, I commit to my clients to never force or rush their process, whether that means they come to an understanding of themselves as gay, straight, or any other orientation. Throughout this process, what I will do is patiently wade through a person's feelings and beliefs until they can come to a place of fully and joyfully living as the wonderful individual they were created by God to be.
To the person who says, “I don’t need therapy. I’m not crazy,” or “I don’t have big problems,” I say give it a try if you are able.
Taking the leap might just bring about a life you have always hoped for, or maybe even one you never thought possible.
There are many qualified therapists across the country to those who seek professional counsel. Psychology Today offers a therapist finder that will narrow down providers in your area based on their specialties, including religious orientation and issues of sexuality.
As the founder of the Christian Closet, I specialize in talking about sexuality as it relates to God and the Bible. I also offer counseling sessions over Skype, g-chat and the phone. No matter where you live in the country, you can get the support you're seeking and needing.
If you feel doubtful like I was, feel free to give me a call.
I would love to talk with you, get to know you and walk with you on your journey.
You don’t have to be alone in the dark places of your heart.
Photo via flickr Roderick Usher