In 2011, I started going to therapy. Did you know you could be bad at therapy? Me neither, but I was. My therapist was so patient with me, poor guy. He would try these different techniques and at the end would ask me how I felt. The answer was always, “The same,” which he was quick to let me know was not the result we were going for. I felt awful that he had to deal with me coming back week after week, and why did I go back when I hated it? You see, my therapist — let’s call him “Tyler” (because that’s his name) — wanted me to do the worst thing I could imagine: he wanted me to talk about what was bothering me, what brought me there, what was causing me pain. He wanted me to sit in it… gross. Early on in my time with Tyler I would ask him, beg him, bribe him to hypnotize me. He let it slip once that he knew how to do it, but it was illegal. You see, a patient who shared things under hypnosis would remember the experience in an unattached way, so it wouldn’t have been real therapy. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Sign me up.
It took me a long time to be “good” at therapy. I would come in, he’d pull the truth out of me and then give me homework. I was supposed to pay attention to how this made me feel and when it popped up, I was supposed to spend some time there and look around — what caused it, what were the behaviors and emotions attached to it? He encouraged me to journal about it so I could read it and see what I learned about myself. Doesn’t that sound disgusting? Who wants to revisit anything they were trying to repress, or felt like they barely survived, or were just thankful it was all finally over? Why did I sign up for this?
Over time I began to do this process, which I dubbed “Tylerizing.” Something would happen, and I would feel it — really feel it. And with those emotions came this realization that I could learn from my past. I could still be changed by it — in a good way. Most importantly, because I am a Christ follower, I could see his fingerprints all over situations I had previously wondered if he was even a part of. I could finally “do” therapy. I began to look forward to my weekly meetings. Once, I even went twice in one week! I still hated the process, but I loved that I knew myself and could recount the many ways God had provided, protected and guided me during both my darkest moments and my happiest days.
Therapy has been my Jordan River, like the pastors spoke about on Sunday. The Israelites were being asked to do something that seemed so ridiculous! Here is my translation of Joshua 3:
“Okay guys, get in this river and stand there. That’s it. Don’t worry, you wont get wet. Just stand there while I defeat your enemies. It will be fun. Ready? Go.”
This must have seemed impossible because the last time God asked the nation to trust him, they did not and they were punished for 40 years. But they did it scared. They stood in the Jordan River and the Lord passed before them. He did exactly what he said he would do. And to make sure they did not forget, he sent them back into the river — not for a swim but to lug rocks out to build a monument. Those rocks were not just heavy because they were rocks. Going backwards is hard. Can you imagine how they must have felt considering what their lives would have been like had the nation of Israel had more faith 40 years earlier?
I have to be honest and tell you that I went to see Tyler regularly for nine years, and at least once a month I asked him to just hypnotize me already, I wouldn’t tell anyone. He never did. Instead, he equipped me with the power to get my feet wet even when I do not want to, and to pick up those heavy rocks even when I think they might crush me. He knew all along what I know now: when I get those rocks on dry land I might be tired, but I won’t be crushed. These rocks will serve as a reminder of what God has brought me through, of his faithfulness when I was faithless, of his light shining on my darkest nights. I still do not like therapy. It is hard. But I also love therapy, because I know who I am and to whom I belong. And if you’d like to hear about my monuments, just ask! These rocks I have fought to acquire fulfill this verse from Joshua 4:
“so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
— Joshua 4:24