The early part of this summer was a hurricane in our lives.
I won’t recount all the details, but we were poised to buy a family business. Instead, the carpet was yanked out from beneath our feet. Had we been on our own, we would’ve gone scrambling, but God placed solid paver stones under our feet with each step we took, and has faithfully led us toward where we needed to be and what we needed to do as a family after that shocking loss.
Though my whole heart was delighted at the pursuit of that beautiful dream, I’m grateful for where we are, and what He’s done.
Nonetheless, the emotional fallout for me was not insignificant. I went to the Psalms to try to voice my emotions in prayer, but I couldn’t focus. I tried to “Do the Next Thing,” but often couldn’t even identify what that was.
The needs were all so pressing, and instead of trying to meet them all, I just went numb. Escapism became my modus operandi– I zoned out on devices, seeking escape and calm and predictability and control.
Sometimes my hands and feet moved in the direction they were “supposed” to– working deliberately to stabilize our lives in the here and now– but even that never lasted long.
My mind and heart were weighed down, cluttered, hurt, and confused.
I NEEDED HELP
I needed perspective, and –even more than that– I needed to talk with someone for whom my story would not be “too much.”
And, yes, I know that God is always there to hear us. But the truth is that I had almost no time alone to pray or talk, and even if I had, we’d been hit by a great blow, and I was still rumbling from that hit. My brain felt like it was in the residual shakes of a gong. There was too much noise and it drowned out even things that seemed simple.
I couldn’t make sense of life.
Our story sounded crazy, even to me.
It’s tiresome to perpetually feel like you have to hold back– like if someone actually heard all the details and concerns on your mind, they would just stop listening and avoid you like the plague thereafter because it’s all just way way way too much. I didn’t know how to voice our story, or my emotions and reactions amidst it all, but I knew I couldn’t go on like this.
I needed to sort it out.
SEEKING A COUNSELOR
So I sought out a counselor, someone with whom I could just bare it all and have her tell me the truth and help me. With some searching (and it took multiple efforts!) God gave me a beautiful counselor (actually an older woman I knew 20 years ago, although I didn’t realize it until 40 minutes into our first session!).
We had two months worth of sessions together, and the biggest thing she did for me was this: she listened, and responded empathetically and insightfully to my story.
Yes, she gave me resources; yes, she prodded with insightful questions and biblical principles, and reflected back to me what she was noticing and hearing. But the biggest gift of it all, for me, was her validating that the weight on my shoulders, and the weight on my mind, really WAS an awfully heavy load.
Somehow, just that — an “outsider” telling me the truth about my life — was very freeing, and also helped me scale over the great hump of sorrow and shock. She helped me to inwardly move deliberately toward reality and away from the past, away from zoning out, and away from numbing myself with devices. After time talking with her, I not only could take steps toward:
- building an enjoyable, sustainable life
- investing in church, family, and friends HERE–
— but she helped me realize that I actually wanted to pursue those things.
The inward attitude change (and awareness of my real heart goals) was what I needed in order to begin external behavioral changes.
(For me that looked like: turning off devices; decreasing the quantity of time taken up by binge-video-watching; increasing the time spent engaging with the seeming-chaos of real life.)
I share this because… I hope it will give you courage to reach out to a skilled counselor if you need help.
Also, I want to explicitly say that even though I come from a background of “biblical counseling” — this woman was not a biblical counselor. She was simply a Jesus-loving woman, trained in counseling, able to listen and enter into my story, care about my life, and help me.
Additionally, it was beneficial to have someone who doesn’t “know” me and doesn’t have any skin in the game of my life, to help me sort life out and help me regain my footing on the God’s path. What I mean by that is– no matter what I decided in our counseling sessions, it would not materially change her life. Neither of us have a community, reputation, paycheck, or set of friendships that are dependent upon one another.
She simply wanted to help me love Jesus better and work through the issues and emotions that were plaguing me. And she did.
THERE IS NO SHAME IN GETTING COUNSELING.
Sister, life is hard. The heavenward path is long. The blows of life can be wearying. We don’t have to perpetually “buck up” and feign strength. The whole point of the Gospel is that we are weak and needy.
If you need help, take steps toward what you need and get it. There’s no shame in that.
Grace and Peace,