To closed-minded believers, Jesus can solve all problems big or small. He borders the line between a Genie and Santa Clause, a being who grants wishes when rubbed with a prayer based upon good behavior. So what is one to do when the feeling of sadness hasn’t gone away after hours of knee bent prayers? What happens when the thousand-year-old scripture doesn’t lift the weight of societal pressures of everyday black life? Well, friend, you don’t need Jesus, you need therapy. Here to assist you on this journey to understand the difference between faith and foolishness is Dr. Krystal Stanley, a Southern Baptist raised licensed psychologist who owns and runs a group practice in Washington D.C. called Re-New Psychological Services.
Past Days, Past Ways
Dr. Stanley: Church was a safe haven also, black people sought out all their needs due to necessity but also due to segregation as well. There was period of time where black people could not see white doctors.
Historically to be black in America means to make the most of what little given. The black church was not only a place of worship but the central existence of service for black life. Spiritually, activism, counsel, and someone who fix the refrigerator all existed inside the walls of Godly praise.
Dr. Stanley: There are so many stories in the bible where somebody is ill, somebody is crazy(in their terms), and they prayed for some hands are laid on them, anointed with oil, and they’re fine. We know now scientifically about how the brain works and what happens when people’s serotonin levels are low or too high and how that leads to what we call mental illness, so with that knowledge, we need to then treat people appropriately.
There is no age-old prayer that can be used as a cure for one’s chemical imbalance no more than rinsing with holy water is a remedy for a toothache
The Biggest Wall:
Dr. Krystal Stanley: In particular, if people exist in a church where anxiety and depression is sort of failing on your part for not having faith or not trusting God. Am I tithing enough? Am I making something in my life that’s negative? Feeds the cycle too. If I’m feeling depressed and I have been taught depression is a lack of faith in God, then I feel bad about not having enough faith in God, and then that makes me feel more bad, and it’s a terrible cycle.
Accountability is one thing, but to be pressured into a self-loathing mental state is another. It is a generational toxic practice that can be dated back to days of the first slave who was taught by their white Christian master that any form of question against them is an act against God himself. Obey and move forward is the way too salvation.
Risk and Consequence:
Dr. Krystal Stanley: What you may notice is that you are more tired. You feel physically worn out. It can lead to weight gain or weight loss. Headache, tension in your body. Relationship problems because maybe your snapping at friends or partner or children. So that’s going to cause a strain in your relationships.
Hurt people hurt people.
New Day, New Way:
Dr. Krystal Stanley: Overall, both are important and useful and can be used in conjunction. If people feel good about their faith communities and continue to go there to get the support they need but also that they’re seeking mental health treatment.
The black church has been the backbone of its community through all levels of joy, pain, struggle, and success. Where in the past it was our only source of support, today is it is not. To combat the everyday struggles of systematic oppression, covert/overt racism, and personal demons, one needs not to turn a blind eye to non-traditional forms of assistance. To seek therapy is not an abandonment of faith; it is the additional support required to help one become their best black self.