As I continue to seek out long hidden idols in my heart, those misrepresentations of God that I’ve come to worship, I’ve found yet another insidious creation taking the true God’s rightful place. I’m calling this idol Therapist God, and I don’t mean him to be a knock against the entire mental health profession, which is well and good. But when God starts looking like the guy with the leather couch and the Freud beard, you’ve got an idol problem.
I’m not ashamed to admit that there have been times in my life where I’ve sought therapy from counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Just like our physical health needs attention and its own special brand of doctors, our mental health also requires its own unique forms of treatment.
So, I understand the counselor/counselee roles, but I was surprised to recognize that I was playing the parts with God. I’d sit myself on his couch and talk about my feelings. Me, Me, Me, Me, Me. I’d search his word for some tips for how to handle my emotions. In fact, I just memorized two great verses in James for anger: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (1:19-20).
So far, my attitude isn’t exactly bad. Okay, It’s a little selfish.
What makes God vastly different and superior from all mental health professionals is his ability to transform us and our minds. Whereas a counselor or psychiatrist can give us tips and tricks, be a good listening ear, or maybe even prescribe some excellent pharmaceuticals, only God has the power to change us 100%, in an instant, if he wishes.
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who is a former drug addict, and this point hit me really hard. In her former life, she did drugs, slept around, got abortions, and made a general mess of her life. Then, she met Jesus, and he transformed her, heart, mind, and soul. I was sitting with her as she nursed the latest addition to her growing family, when I realized how feeble my idol was.
Sure, a counselor might have helped her out a bit, but nobody but Jesus could make her the incredible mom and wife that she is today.
So this is where I’m selling God short. By calling him Therapist God and limiting him to the powers of an earthly therapist, I’m denying the miracles that I’ve witnessed him perform in my own life and the lives of others. I’m losing faith in his power to transform, renew, and recreate.
And of course, this should change my prayer life. When I pray to therapist God, it’s as low key as a therapy session. But when I lay my heart and mind before the God who has the power to change me forever, I walk away awed and inspired. And a little scared. Nobody faces transforming change without just a little trepidation.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a).