Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
I wonder – ‘trauma-dumping’, ‘triggered’, ‘toxic’, and ‘boundaries’ – are these phrases familiar to you?
From Prince Harry’s memoir to self-care TikToks, this kind of vocabulary is becoming increasingly prevalent online, and even seeping into friendships, dating, and workplaces. Therapy-speak is language that used to be confined to clinical settings, but it’s now entered into mainstream conversations – whether or not professionals would recognise its usage.
And the actor Jonah Hill has dominated online discourse this month after his ex-girlfriend published messages allegedly from Hill asserting ‘his boundaries’. The viral texts have raised alarm bells about the weaponising of therapy-speak and misuse of language for control and cruelty.
However, without getting too bogged down with the pros and cons of the increasing prevalence of therapy-speak, let’s zoom out and be curious. What might it tell us about the state of people’s hearts and minds?
Perhaps it’s an indication of the increasing awareness of mental fragility, matched with an ache for healing? The heartbreaking reality of a mental health crisis, particularly faced by young people, is common knowledge, and the world’s antidote is the gospel of self-care. ‘Love-yourself’ and ‘set your boundaries’ are both another way of saying ‘put yourself first’. The world’s answer to fragility is to turn inward, to look to the self for survival and a route to flourishing.
To be clear, as a recipient of therapy, I’m an advocate. I’ve found this and other self-care practices to be incredibly restorative. However, in my experience of healthy boundary setting or talking therapies, I’ve found the most transformation when I have directed them beyond simply my own wellbeing and towards formation into the character and likeness of Jesus.
To rely only on yourself for healing is a lot of weight to carry. Jesus’ antidote to fragility is not the self, but instead self-denial. Neither discarding nor idolising ourselves, but looking to him to be restored and renewed into true Christlikeness – ‘whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it’ (Matthew 16:25).
So, what might it look like for you to live for Jesus amidst friendships dominated by therapy-speak?
The wonderful, good news is that the love of God is the route to flourishing and the antidote to fragility. On fragile frontlines, we’re invited to demonstrate that kingdom vision, operating within healthy boundaries but still serving and giving ourselves away to others.
Being Human Project Coordinator, Evangelical Alliance