Your Friends aren’t Your Therapists

Support systems are everything.

They are life-giving and life-sustaining.

They come in many forms and fashions.

When you have good people around you, pouring into you, there’s a level of security and confidence that arises within you.

You feel safe to throw off your cape, take off your mask and just be yourself.

You can let down your guard, tear down your walls and open up your heart.

It’s a beautiful thing.

 

During my transition home, I’ve needed to lean on my friends [and family] a lot.

If you’re at all like me, you still get a little uncomfortable disclosing private matters of your heart to people.

Even if they’re completely trustworthy.

You feel like you have to work through your feelings alone, rather than “burdening” someone else with whatever you’re going through.

But what’s a friend if you can’t lean on them?

*Cues Bill Withers’s famous song, “Lean on Me.”*

 

However, with all of that being said, it is incredibly important that you don’t put your friends in a compromising position by bearing your whole soul to them.

Like I mentioned in my last post, boundaries are so very important.

Sometimes your friends are going through hard times as well, so they can’t show up for you the way you need them to because they can barely show up for themselves.

That’s why it’s important to have an objective person in your life who has the proper tools and training to help you process what you’re going through.

 

I believe in Jesus, yes.

But I also believe in therapy.

 

For me, in this case, it’s pretty simple: I want my friends to stay my friends.

I don’t always want them to think that I’m calling them because I need to talk about my problems.

That’s not friendship.

I want us to have plenty of laughs and funny, light-hearted moments.

And I’m learning that the lines can get blurred if you don’t establish healthy boundaries.

I’m learning to process as much as I can with the Lord and with my therapist first and then I can share bits and pieces with friends and family as needed.

Or vice versa.

I might initially talk to a friend or family member about something but then realize that I need to dig a little deeper into it with a licensed professional.

 

Since being back home, I haven’t found a local therapist yet, which is what’s inspiring me to write this post.

During the past few weeks, there have been times where I’ve been tempted to talk through something with a friend but then I realize that I could unknowingly trigger them with whatever it is I have to say.

Or I recognize that they may not be trained to unpack whatever it is that needs to be unpacked.

 

Now, sometimes, I really am being led by the Lord to call a particular person. And I let them know that.

I say somewhere in the conversation, “I’m so glad I decided to call you!”

And they usually say, “I’m so glad you did, too!”

In those moments, I learn that there are friends that are incredibly tuned into my needs and have the exact vocabulary that I need to hear to get me through the particular struggle.

And I praise God that I allowed myself to be vulnerable.

Because SO MUCH healing flows when this happens!

It’s literally one of my favorite things to experience. This healing. This release.

But, honestly, it is still a battle.

 Do I call? Do I not call?

Can I handle this on my own?

What type of support do I need?

Those are the thoughts going through my head, usually.

 

And don’t even get me started on the topic of church culture.

I think Christians tend to think we know how to best help someone through a particular situation simply because we know God and we know scripture.

Please be careful, here.

Not every one of your Christian friends is called to your healing process.

Sometimes more harm than good can be done here.

Use wisdom. Be discerning.

The Bible charges us to guard our hearts above all else.

For me personally, part of this “guarding” process is entrusting my soul (mind, will and emotions) first to the Lord and then to someone who He has specifically called to walk with me through the journey.

Do you know why your friends are in your life?

Are your friendships purposeful?

 

I have a few friends who I know have the tools to uplift me and pour into me in a way that is gentle, gracious and affirming.

They know that I’m in a difficult season and that I might be taking more than I’m giving.

I received their consent to lean on them in such a way that may be outside of our normal friendship rhythm.

Yet, if I ever feel like I’m compromising our relationship or overburdening them, I will 1.) check in with them and let them know how I’m feeling and 2.) make sure I have other outlets.

 

So, I don’t know where you and your friends are in your level of transparency. I don’t know if they have the level of awareness to speak to what you need and affirm you.

The point of this post wasn’t to say that you shouldn’t lean on your friends.

It was basically saying that you shouldn’t lean on them too much to the point where now you’re BOTH falling over!

 

I know the idea of therapy can be scary for someone who has never gone before.

But let me assure you that the right therapist will make you feel safe.

You might even love it so much that you become an advocate for mental and emotional wellness like me!

It warms my heart when random people tell me that they’re going to therapy now because of my positive experiences or because I was open enough just to say that I do seek this type of support.

 

And just so we’re all clear: going to therapy doesn’t make you weak.

It doesn’t mean you’re crazy.

It’s probably one of the strongest steps you can take.

You are acknowledging that you’re ready to throw off your superwoman cape and you’re ready to be taken care of for a change.

You don’t have to have a diagnosis to seek help.

You don’t have to be going through a divorce or a death in the family or a loss of a job (though, these are all great opportunities to seek additional support).

Sometimes, you just need someone who will listen and provide a safe space for you to release.

 

It’s okay to cry.

It’s okay to hurt.

But, just remember that you weren’t meant to hold onto all of that.

You have a Savior who wants to take it all.

And He has given you/will give you specific people to help you process it.

You can go to therapy and still be a prayer warrior.

I promise you, it’s possible.

It will even make you a more effective intercessor.

So, keep seeking the Lord, seeking your healing and living your best life!

These two verses in Jeremiah come to mind:

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. (Jeremiah 33:6-7).

He is rebuilding us and restoring us. Don’t leave without every bit of healing promised to you!

 

Let me know if there’s any way I can help you further.

A resource that might be helpful is www.therapyforblackgirls.com.

I don’t say this enough, but thanks for reading!

 

Until Next Time,

Jess

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