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Who “gets” you the best?

So be honest. How are you really feeling about your own life most days?

And who else in your life comes closest to understanding how it feels to be you? Who is it that really gets you? Or at least comes closest?

These are some questions I’m most likely to ask those who know me as their therapist.

So now let me be totally honest with you.

Most of my counseling clients would not need me as a therapist if they already had someone else who could totally empathize with them, really understand them, and actually “get” them.

It starts to get fairly complicated as to why so many people in today’s world feel more misunderstood than understood. For instance, what we think we understand about ourselves often troubles us. When so, we then often choose to not share that understanding with others so as not to trouble them. “What would they think of me if they only knew?” “If they understood me as I understand myself, if they felt what I feel about myself, would they still love me?” When that latter question is “no,” then the idea of telling a total stranger who is trained as a therapist becomes more tempting or even compelling.

More than anything else, psychotherapy is about changing the way we think about and understand ourselves so we better “get” ourselves and, are you ready for this, are then empowered to best love ourselves. Loving ourselves is what heals our hurts. Our best love is what casts out our worst fears. Our traumatic anxiety and depression begs for better understanding, better knowing, and better loving of both ourselves and others. Therapy, then, is a healing journey of becoming known, loved, and thereby healed from within our own renewed, transformed minds.

Can this journey happen without a therapist? Yes. But I’m not so sure it can happen alone and without the support of another person. We all “get” ourselves much better, I believe, when in connection or relationship with someone else. Someone else who honestly “gets us” and, therefore, loves us…….warts and all.

All of which may at least begin to explain some head scratching on my part in reaction to yesterday’s Super Bowl commercials having to do with the person of Jesus Christ. “Jesus gets us.” If you were watching the game itself, along with many millions of others around the world, there’s a fairly good chance you saw at least one of these ads about Jesus.

Most of those reading this know that I am both a therapist and a Christian pastor. Upon wearing the latter hat, I’ve joined in my own share of evangelism efforts over the years in trying to make the historical Jesus known to others who are looking for some greater healing in their lives. It’s no accident, I assure you, that my own work as a helping professional trained in both theology (the study and understanding of God) and social work (the study and understanding of people) has merged these two disciplines. My personal life mission, still a work in progress at age 76, is to facilitate “more love and less fear” in this world of fear-driven and love-drawn humanity.

Full disclaimer, I have no academic training in business marketing or public relations. I have only a layperson’s level of comprehension about issues like brand advertising. As a pastor, I can tell you that the Jesus brand is now horribly tarnished. Jesus himself is in recent years judged as being guilty by association with many Christians and Christian organizations or spokespersons. Jesus is grossly misunderstood by most persons, and this started not with the rise of America’s political alt.right, but back a couple millennia ago. Back when his own fellow Jewish religionists misunderstood him and used the Roman government to crucify his brand even then. For most of this past millennium, Jesus suffered from being branded as a fire insurance policy. Claim him, supposedly the insurance premium was free except for a tithe (wink, wink) of one’s annual income, and one goes to heaven instead of hell upon one’s death.

Missionary and even pastoral evangelism over the course of this past millennium has spent millions of dollars messaging Jesus as one who died for you; your free fire insurance collectible upon death. That was the Jesus brand being heralded far and wide. It’s gone global.

Finally a new evangelism movement comes about. It aims at re-branding this Jesus, launching a new understanding of what this historical person of Jesus Christ was really all about. It used the NFL global event called the Super Bowl to spread a new message, create a new understanding, make Jesus into a person who could be loved instead of feared (a return to his original first century brand before the Roman church invented hell). It’s called the “Jesus gets us” movement. It attracts Christians across the spectrum from liberal to conservative and pulls in investment dollars from individuals and corporations alike. It proclaims that Jesus understands us when no one else can; understands everything about our personal lives as troubled humans…..even what it’s like for us to be misunderstood, cast out for being different, persecuted and even tortured for just being ourselves…….and it renders Jesus the ultimate lover and healer of our deepest fears and sharpest wounds.

And what happens?

Well, for one thing there is in reaction to all this an uproar from my fellow Jesus followers who now complain that this Jesus who gets us is now wasting money that could instead go to helping the poor. Or now complain that this movement has supporters from the political right, or among the anti-woke, or whomever and whatever.

Here we finally have a course correction. Christians left and right finally uniting to invest in re-branding Jesus for a global audience so he gets to be the Savior he always was (the one who so “gets” us as to empower our love of God, neighbor, and self) and even his closest disciples and followers now take objection.

I am SMH.

Strikes me just how similar this present story of Jesus is to one from the Gospels. Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9 share about the time Jesus has his head anointed by a woman with an alabaster jar full of expensive perfume. Luke 7:36-48 renders this woman as a sinner whom Jesus loves. The former accounts note a complaint by his disciples about how wasteful Jesus is since the perfume could have been sold and used to help the poor. The latter account by Luke notes a complaint about how Jesus is associating with a notorious sinner. As often happens in such biblical stories, Jesus catches it from both sides. He can’t seem to win for being misunderstood by his followers and the local bigots alike. True then when he walked the earth. True even now in real time.

What, in my own faith, makes Jesus the best psychotherapist and pastor who ever lived and, therefore, the idol and role model I can only aspire to imitate with some meager accuracy, is that he gets us even when we don’t get him. Or even when we don’t get each other. He understands that we don’t understand. He’s so right in knowing that we so often don’t get him right, or don’t get others right. He wisely understands and forgives our human ignorance.

I believe Jesus “gets” us the best. If we’re LGBTQ+ Jesus “gets” us the best and loves us the most. Same goes for every other person or community or tribe or nation or race or religion. Or political party. Jesus understands us, loves us, empowers us to heal ourselves by loving ourselves alongside God and neighbor.

I can’t think of a better product or service to advertise for the world to see. It ranks as my all-time favorite evangelism movement. And Super Bowl ad.

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