When your mind wanders, what thoughts do you arrive at? There are many things that can fill our mind, but for many of us the relationships we have with friends and family, and even our own sense of wellbeing, can take up a lot of headspace.
Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counsellor who specialises in dating, marriage and relationship issues, along with a host of mental health disorders and challenges.
Known for her convention-busting response to Christian dating culture in True Love Dates, and her psychology-based approach to love and relationships, Debra is now asking readers to go deeper with her new book Are You Really OK?
On Hope 103.2 podcast UNDISTRACTED with Laura Bennett, Debra said, “The health of our relationships is actually a reflection of our personal health”.
A lot of the root causes behind why we may be struggling in relationships – romantic or otherwise – can come back to unaddressed aspects of our own mental health that we need to face.
“In scripture, we see that the purposes of a person’s heart are like deep waters (Proverbs 20:5), but one who has insight draws them out.” Debra said.
“Understanding our hearts and motivation isn’t like turning on a tap, ‘you’ve got to go in and draw out those waters’.”
Admitting that you’re not OK though can be a struggle for some, especially Christians who may link it to a “lack of faith” or consider it a spiritual flaw. Yet, Debra believes getting over the hurdle of realising you can be broken and aren’t invincible is an important truth to embrace.
“I honestly think it’s more dangerous for us to think that we’re OK, than it is for us to think that we’re not OK.” Debra said.
“Because when we recognise that we’re not OK, we’re at a place to receive healing. We’re at a place to grow, and change, and transform and get to the next level of healing.
“Whereas when we think we’re doing fine, that’s when we’re actually the most susceptible because our guard is down. Our eyes are closed to what is actually happening.
“I see the thought of being ‘not OK’, as a really powerful and courageous place to be.”
Along with admitting you can fail, one of the greatest challenges to our overall health is feeling like you keep failing over and over again – especially around the same issues. Be it anxiety, addiction, bitterness or not being able to let go of shame for instance.
When that feeling comes, Debra said it’s important to know “we all suffer, we all struggle with something in different seasons”.
“I want people to realise it’s not a setback when you find something new. [Normally we think] ‘Oh, here I go again, I thought I kicked this’.
“You’ve got to see it as, ‘OK Lord, this is the next layer of healing. What do you want to do now? You want to take me one more level? You want to heal me one more layer?’
“And instead of getting discouraged and running from the healing, you need to see it as God saying, ‘This is the next level, I’m about to do something new. Let’s do this together’.”
A major cause of guilt and shame in Christian communities can be around romantic relationships. In an environment that sometimes says “singleness is a gift” or that “Jesus should be enough”, singles looking for life partners can feel bad for still craving connection.
However, Debra said, “There’s no guilt, no shame there, because we were made for relationship”.
“Your desire for love is not a reflection of your lack of faith. Your desire for love is a reflection of the fact you were made in the image of a God who made you for love.
“Instead of trying to snuff out that desire with all kinds of other things, I think we need to embrace it. We need to lean into it and work out what it looks like to enable those relationships in healthy ways.”
Debra Fileta’s book Are You Really OK? is out now.
Listen to her full interview on UNDISTRACTED with Laura Bennett in the player above or the following video.