Beyond Sunday School: My Experience with Christian Counselling
Societal stigmas (or maybe just my own prejudice) left me perpetually wary of people who meet weekly with a therapist. I assumed they were shirking responsibility for their lives by paying someone else to tell them how to live, act, and think. Whoever painted that picture for me, I chose to believe it.
Several years ago, I faced a wounding experience that left me in a wrenching cycle of pain, cynicism, and anger. I was scarred. Very scarred. Life (more precisely: a person in that life of mine) had dealt me a jarring blow. No matter how hard I tried, it continued even several years later to affect my outlook on reality. I was ashamed of my wound: ashamed to admit the hurt, ashamed to still be hurting, ashamed to ask for help.
But that was just it: I needed help.
I lived the easy Christian life. Christian home, amazing church, homeschool, Christian college, Bible studies, godly friends, blah, blah, etc. I don’t minimize any of this, of course; I know full well that I am blessed beyond words. But by the time I was in my early twenties and living on my own, I had the Christianity thing down pat. I’d learned what to say, when to say it, how to say it. I could talk the talk and walk the walk. When rubber met the road, though, I had lost the why. Or, more accurately, I had recreated the “why”. My perfect little facade was not because I was applying Truth from Scripture and living for Jesus. Instead, I had created an persona of perfection based strictly on my own pride and desire to appear perfect.
Enter my Christian counselor. (Emphasis on Christian: a godly woman with extensive training in Biblical counseling.)
Before Christian counseling could change my life, I had to acknowledge my need for help. I had spent several years hiding my scars, but reached a point where I knew something had to change; I couldn’t do it alone. The pain was too big, the brokenness too vast. During a break at work, I confided in a caring coworker, telling her of my dilemma and hopelessness.
My pride had been replaced with pieces of humility. Somewhere along the way, my brokenness had chipped away at my pride and facade of perfection enough to let me admit that I couldn’t move forward on my own. I was still full of pride — don’t get me wrong, I still am — but it wasn’t getting in the way of help. I wanted help, and I wanted someone to be that help.
I had to let God provide the right person. I had tried to find a counselor once before, but her cliches — though valuable and true — were bandaids on my open wound. After telling my coworker-friend of my continued helplessness, she had given me a name of a wise pastor’s wife with counseling training and a heart of gold who might be taking counselees. Minutes later, that same pastor’s wife called our office to speak with my coworker-friend, I answered the phone, and the rest was God. The timing could not have been planned better if we’d tried.
After many tears, a lot of painfully honest truth, and carefully aimed Scripture, I was surprised at what God did. I went to a Christian counselor wanted help sorting through the emotional pain that had defined my last few years, but God had other lessons in mind. I never expected to be sorting through pride and perfectionism, bitterness and unforgiveness. But God did. As my counselor/mentor/friend (she became far more than “just” a counselor — God knew I needed that, too), she gave me truth in love with wisdom and then helped me apply Scripture like I had never done before.
See, when I thought of “Bible” and “Church” and “God,” I thought of something you read because you’re supposed to, somewhere you go because you’re expected to, and someone you pray to because you can. Somehow, I had become calloused to the truth that the Words of God found in the Bible.
After nine months of Christian counseling and a year later, I am no closer to being perfect. Instead, I am far more aware of the chaos sin has left on the world and — while being aware — I can stand firm on the Truth that is in His Word and the comfort He brings.
Christian counseling didn’t heal me of my wounds — but it showed me the tools I can use to live victorious despite the scars. And surprisingly, those tools were in my hands all along. The Bible isn’t merely for reading three and a half minutes every morning or quoting at opportune moments. The Bible is filled with Truth ready to be read, memorized, applied, lived, claimed.
Clarification: there is a difference between a counselor who is a Christian and a Christian counselor who uses the Bible as the source for their counseling. My experience was with the latter. The distinction may be minute, but it is worth making.
What an excellent share this is! 🙂
I want to echo that clarification point at the end. It does make a world of difference.
A few years ago, I was in a place of complacency and compromise in my Christian walk. I’d bought into the ‘victim mentality’ and a justifying attitude for all my actions. I decided to reach out to my peers for sympathy and advice. The “counselors” who helped me the most were the ones who fed my soul and not my feelings. They were kind but firm and offered me many Scriptural nuggets of truth. Ultimately, it was God’s word that humbled and convicted me which led me to repentance, giving up my selfishness and into choosing God’s path for my life again. All my Christian friends meant well, bless their hearts, but I didn’t really need empathy or someone “on my side”. I needed honesty and truth and “tough love”. I didn’t realize it at the time and wasn’t always thankful for it either. I regret that I didn’t appreciate the solid, Biblical counsel at the time. But now I am so thankful for those friends who spurred me onto holiness and God’s higher standards. 🙂 They taught me so much by getting me back into God’s word and by letting God use them to exemplify Christ to me.
I’m no longer in a place of “just surviving” life. I’m thriving and it’s all because of God and those few friends who gave me what I needed instead of what I wanted. To God be the glory!
Hi first I’d like to thank you for sharing your experience. its interesting that you posted this today because today I also started Christian counseling at my school. Just as you were skeptical and had your prejudices, I did too. As my first day I felt very nervous. But I made it through my first session. My couselor guided me through questions to uncover hidden wounds that I thought were healed. I’m happy it helped you and I pray that counseling will provide me the tools for healing as well. God bless you :).
first off – welcome to the team! and secondly, thank you! I was really blessed by your post. There is a stigma out there about counseling. And not many people know the difference between a counselor who is a Christian, and a Christian counselor. I’ve worked with both! I was on a track in school to be a Counselor who was also a Christian. The Lord heavily convicted me last year and I stopped school and have started pursing biblical counseling. Thanks for your testimony and encouragement!
Thank you for sharing your testimony and the truth about good Biblical, Christian counseling…may your heart continue to be healed. *hugs*
Oh, my. This is such a glorious testimony. Thank you, Jennifer.