Why Biblical Counseling?

Today's post is by one of my new guest-bloggers, Emily. 

 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 (NASB) -

Growing up, the running joke in my family was that we put the “dys” in “dysfunctional.” Sometimes we would say we put the “fun” in there, too. There was a lot of craziness in my family—a lot of heartache, a lot of anger and splintered relationships, a lot of fighting. In the midst of all of this there was this fierce loyalty to protect the ‘family’—were there altercations with ‘outsiders’ (anybody not blood related), the consensus was yes, so-and-so might deserve a flat out beating for what they just did, but I’m going to do it, not you. Keep it in the family. I jokingly referred to us as the Irish Mafia—fiercely loyal and protective (of all the wrong things) and very, very angry.

It is no wonder when my mom did the best she knew to do and went back to college, studying social work and psychology. She wanted to help our family dynamic. She saw the problems in the family, and wanted to help. While I admired my mom for going back to college while raising a young child, I also was keenly aware our family was her case study. I grew up resenting psychology and anything that had to do with counseling as a result.

In my early twenties I first heard of biblical counseling. One day I was approached to be on a team to organize a biblical conference at our church. I scoffed. “Me? You want me to have something to do with counseling? I’m co-every in the book, don’t have an ounce of self-esteem, and, in general, hate psychology. All these people do is mix a few Bible verses in there, says everyone who takes antidepressants is sinning, and makes you feel like a moron for existing.” Unfortunately, my first brush with the speaker we brought in did little to change my mind as he blasted those who were on antidepressants (which I had just started to take) as extreme evil and callously labeled every problem in the world as sin. I thought it was cold and impersonal. I did like the fact he said psychology was wrong, though.

Over the years I had read a lot of self-help books, counseled with my pastor, had countless hours poured into me by way of discipleship—I even went through Bible studies laced with psychology to help me “overcome” my past and grow into a functional adult (leaving the “dys” behind). Out of desperation I went to a ‘professional’ Christian counselor. When I walked in his office I noticed all the psychology books on his shelves and the lack of Bible. Throughout the hour that I spoke to this man, he never once gave me any indication he knew what a Bible was, let alone could I tell he had a relationship with the Author of it. I left his office with less hope than I had when I went in, and $100 poorer.

By God’s grace, a woman biblical counselor started to attend our church. Upon the pastor’s recommendation, I started to meet with her. At this point I had nothing left to lose—I was without hope, on a fair amount of antidepressants (with an increase or addition of pills on the looming horizon), and was fairly desperate. I truly believed the family cycle of dysfunction was inevitable for the rest of my life.

I will be honest and say I had zero clue what I was getting myself into with this biblical counselor. I was depressed, angry, fearful of EVERYTHING, and skeptical that even she could help me. What I quickly learned was that SHE wasn't trying to change me—she was pointing me to the ONE who could change me. I learned about the deceitfulness of my own heart, and the hope Christ offers. I learned how to apply all the theology I had spent years learning (with little to no application on my part). I learned what it meant to truly repent. I learned what it meant to honor God. I learned what true relationships look like. I learned how to communicate without anger or manipulation. I learned how to self-counsel.

I cannot say this counselor alone changed my life, because it was not her. However, she took me by the hand and walked with me before the throne of God—taught me how to come before the One who forgives, restores, changes lives, and changes hearts. I’m most thankful for that counselor in my life.

So here I am today—the once dysfunctional member of the Irish mafia, counselee for life, without hope or purpose, doomed to repeat the cycle of history—writing for a blog about biblical counseling. I am a living example of the mercy of God. I am among those who started this process as the counselee, and now am pursuing the goal of becoming a biblical counselor. When you come out of the trenches, you want to help anybody you can come out of there, too. It is worth all the hard work, the late nights, the hours spent in prayer, the hours spent pouring over Scripture looking for ways to impart biblical truth, the faith stretching moments of waiting on God to work out His perfect will in the heart of one stuck in sin and struggling to walk the Christian life . . .  it is kingdom work. It is not work done for a pat on the back or recognition—it is work to bring the truth of the gospel message into the lives of hurting saints. It is soul care. It is precious, and it is service.

Why do I believe in biblical counseling, and not psychology? Simply put, because the Word of God changes lives. It is more than rearranging the flesh. It is sharper than a two edged sword. It discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Only the Word of God can shatter your life and mercifully put it back together again in a more perfect way. I believe in the work of biblical counseling because I have seen it change lives—my own, and countless others who have walked through our ministry at RGCC. I believe that lives can be transformed. I believe the ministry of the Holy Spirit to change lives. I believe in God. I believe.

(Mark 9:23-24 NASB) -  And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes."  Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief."

(Romans 12:2 NASB) - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Romans 15:13-14, 17-18 NASB) - Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another . . .  Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me . . .

Emily Duffey is a counselor-in-training in RGCC’s training program and is working toward her NANC and IABC certifications as well as her college degree in biblical counseling. She lives with Multiple Sclerosis is unmarried and has a great interest in missions. I consider her a dedicated servant to God's people in the local church and on the mission field.