This post is intended for Christians looking to deepen their faith and mental health and may not apply to my entire reader base.
One of the things that is very grounding about the Christian faith is that there is not only truth/Truth we follow, but hopefully a willingness to pursue disciplines that either a) aren't comfortable, or b), may not necessarily make sense immediately. This is very helpful in therapy when clients don’t throw up resistance to the concept of a greater good through suffering- and the need to persevere in it. If you haven’t yet accepted the tenet of persevering through suffering- and not having an answer- we must first do some preliminary work. Therefore, when asking clients to consider, for example, the hard work of facing fears of certain illnesses, social rejection, or harm, there is already an excellent platform in place. However, I also see that Christians can be remarkably inflexible- myself included. I think it’s often the backside weakness of a frontside strength: commitment to truth. But a commitment to truth is not incongruous to flexibility- the practice of humility is at the heart of the Christian walk- along with acceptance of mystery and uncertainty.
A massive University of Rochester study (meta-analysis) examined over 44 THOUSAND people and found that in relationships, psychological flexibility was a unifying key to positive outcomes. Some of these positive outcomes were:
Examples of inflexibility I often hear in Christians:
In therapy and in life, we must call out seemingly true things that are actually false, or at least not the full picture (Ephesians 4:25; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Matthew 4:1-11). I'm game if you're game. Not only is humility one of the marks of the Christian life, so is living in mystery, tolerating uncertainty with patience and joy, and simply not being a ‘know-it-all.’
Examples of hardcore acceptance, flexibility, and uncertainty in the Bible:
When feeling pervasive doubt, uncertainty, and indecision, I've got to shoot straight with you: I think we Christians tend to be a bit more annoying in learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings. 🙂 There, I said it. We’re supposed to have the answers, right? Well, yes and no. We have some incredible answers and access to the living God of the universe (Hebrews 4:14-16)!! But we are not perfected, yet. Simply put, we are not God.
Want to be flexible? Be circumspect, fellow Christians, so that you don’t fall into a trap of needing to know- being unable to tolerate uncertainty. When you demand certainty and are inflexible in enduring discomfort, you’re not only missing out on some cool benefits, you’re also missing some parts of Christian virtue- and as soon as you start living in fear, you’re clearly outside of God’s desire for you. No shame, but God wants you to experience freedom! (Galatians 5:1). There are many ways to grow in flexibility. It starts with the humility to say: “I don’t know it all.” The pursuit of the “perfect” in ourselves is often the enemy of the good. Rather, pursue The Perfect One. God is patient with His children and provides wisdom to those who ask.
A Psychotherapists' thoughts on healthy living.
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