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The Case for Counsel by Jennifer Parker, LPCMH

Believe it or not, the scriptures have a lot to say about mental health. In the Passion translation, Proverbs 4:23, tells us to guard the affections of our “heart,” to pay attention to the welfare of our innermost being, for from there flow the wellsprings of life.

In other words, we are instructed to protect our soul, our innermost being, the “heart” of who we are. This is usually where we need wise counsel in order to know how to protect and guard our hearts.

According to Strong’s Concordance, the word heart (soul) refers to the center of our feelings, will, and intellect. Therefore, we are instructed to protect our thoughts (mind), decisions (will), and feelings (emotions). Our thoughts, decisions and emotions are interconnected; we make decisions based on thoughts and display the corresponding emotions.   Therefore, when we work to protect one part of the soul, the other parts benefit as well.

I like to think of guarding as a means of “damage control,” reducing the impact that a negative emotion or thought may have, as opposed to complete elimination or avoidance. To guard one’s heart, means to regulate and manage emotions in a healthy way. It does not mean we aren’t going to experience negative emotions or thoughts, or make bad decisions.

In fact, “to guard” suggests the opposite; we are to keep watch or face off with the emotion or thought we are guarding against. It helps when working with someone who is a trained counselor, as opposed to facing these challenges alone.

How important is it that we make the effort to guard our innermost being, our soul? Matthew 16:26 asks, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” In other words, your soul is priceless!! There is nothing that can equal its value; it is worth every effort to work through the challenges of the soul.

The scriptures encourage us to seek counsel. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fail; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” If you are trying to work through difficult emotions, negative thoughts, or experiences, I encourage you to face these challenges with someone who is a trained counselor or therapist.

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