This one’s been crossed off The List for a while, but I’ve been reluctant to post about it. I mean, how do you talk about something that was absolutely necessary, completely life-changing, incredibly difficult, wrenching emotional, and intimately personal? Before you get your hopes up, I won’t go into why I sought help or what I worked out, but I’ll tell you about how it helped, and how God worked it out so that I could get the help I needed.
Christian counseling changes lives. Steven Arterburn has said it, Max Lucado has said it, and now I’m saying it, because I am living proof.
I decided to seek counseling on the advice of a very good friend and mentor. I’m a very introspective person, but even very self-aware people need someone who’s able to ask the questions you can’t even think of. One thing I’ve figured out in my 5 3/4 years of marriage is that every new stage of life has the potential to bring up baggage you thought you were done with. That’s why when I said goodbye to my counselor a few months ago, it wasn’t really goodbye. We left the door open, should I ever need to go back.
Let me back up a bit to the months before I started seeing a counselor. I’d needed to go for a while, and wanted it badly enough to put in on my 30 before 30 list. But like so many things on The List, finding the time – worse, the money – to accomplish it was a challenge. A and I prayed for a long time for God to make a way for us to be able to afford to have me go. A long time. Finally I decided I needed to try to make it work, money or no. Wouldn’t you know that the person who was recommended to me, the person who had the most experience dealing with the things I needed to talk about, was the head of the Christian counselling center I went to. As in, the most expensive by far. But I was determined, I’d talked to A and we agreed that I needed to at least start going, and we’d figure out the money part as we went.
And then, only then, after I jumped without looking, God showed up.
It’s the story of my life with Him, to be honest. So many times God has kept quiet and let me take a leap of faith before stepping in with more than I could ask for or imagine. I know He doesn’t deal with everyone this way, but He knows that often the fastest way to make me grow is to not provide, not show up with divine intervention, until I make a move, trusting Him completely to catch me on the other side.
And He’s never let me down.
A found out that our insurance would cover most of my counselling expenses. My counsellor showed a tremendous amount of kindness and investment in me, and found a way to work with our insurance so I could get the number of sessions I needed. It wasn’t what we expected when we prayed for God to help us afford it, but when has God ever done what I thought He’d do?
I’ve listened to New Life Live for years. One thing the wise people on that show often say after a particularly heartbreaking call is how they wish people would seek help before their lives get to a crisis point. I couldn’t agree more. All of us have baggage, some more than others. It’s part of living in a broken world. Most things I could get through and figure out on my own, but some scars run too deeply to heal without help. I wouldn’t change the time I spent in counselling for anything. I understand where I come from better, and my marriage and my ministry is better for it.
If you’ve ever considered counselling – or even if you haven’t but you’ve ever felt like your world is about to come crashing down – please get help. I don’t know what generation you are part of, but I know my parent’s generation has a stigma about admitting that you need help. Get past the stigma, because there is no shame in doing what you need to do to be set free. It is infinitely worth it.
New Life Live has a number on their site you can call and get hooked up with a Christian counsellor in your area. If you need help, don’t wait. You won’t regret it.