We had a long winter this year. Maybe it was the absence of sunshine or lack of a church home within our new community, but I struggled with feeling really low. When I found time to write, I couldn’t get a coherent thought to form on the page. You may have noticed my absence.
I have always enjoyed writing. I tend to be a sounding board communicator. I need to get my words out so they can bounce back for me to process. Pouring my thoughts onto paper has always been an outlet. Suddenly I didn’t have that tool.
When winter discouragement fully set it, I struggled with parenting, marriage and myself. The more I tried to stay ahead, the darker my little world felt. Eventually I was just going through the motions of each day. Get up. Teach the kids. Feed the family. Clean the house. Go to bed. Repeat.
You may be wondering why I didn’t phone a friend if I felt so down. After all, as Christian’s we’re suppose to be a community and carry one anothers burdens, right!?!
The truth is I tend to attract “fixers.” Regardless of whether I pour my heart out or just make a casual comment, it feels like someone is always telling me what to do and trying to fix me. Each time I spoke to friends they offered advice and opinions of what was wrong with me and how to correct it. I was asked if I was taking my vitamins or questioned about my hormonal state. That last question, by the way, is a huge annoyance to me. Please don’t ever ask about my monthly cycle or if I’m yet experiencing the menopausal season of life. It’s nobody’s stinking business unless I offer to share. In fact, if I tell you I’m struggling, please just shut up and pray!! (…..in Jesus name).
Additionally, there are some things that seem like taboo topics within the Christian community. Talk about discouragement, or heaven forbid allude to depression and you are quoted a landslide of scriptures. “Well you just need to put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…” or, “Oh honey, you just need to cast your burdens on the Lord…” Better yet, I’m told all about the burdens of others and how I should be thankful for all I have. After all, from the perspective of others I have a lovely home, car, family, and husband. I agree, but don’t judge the book of my life by the chapter you walk in on!!
So, one day at a really low point, I realized I was failing at getting myself out of the discouragement that surrounded me. I considered the areas of life where I was struggling: parenting, marriage, lack of local friendships, and my own thoughts and feelings. I knew the common denominator in it all was “ME!”
I began searching for a counselor. Specifically a Christian counselor, as God is my compass. Although I feel there are taboo topics in the church, certainly I could talk about anything at counseling. That’s how I heard it was supposed to work anyway.
I didn’t find a single counselor advertising they were Christian, but one I called suggested she had a personal Christian faith.
I went to the appointment hopeful. I had been holding in a lot of words and wasn’t sure how to get them out. I gave her a brief overview of me. Childhood, past relationships, family and faith. I spoke bluntly how I believed life was supposed to be about more than going through the motions. God didn’t promise parenting would be easy, but He did speak of blessings. Certainly God intended marriage to be so much more than what our culture has made it. Why was I floundering?!?
Commenting that finding a church home seemed important to me, the counselor invited me to try a local church she knew of. She explained it accepted all, so wasn’t sure if it would be a good fit. She went on to explain that “all” included LGBT.
My sounding board nature was engaged and I was not guarding my words. I was in counseling. It’s suppose to be safe to say anything there, right?!?
“Accepting of all? You mean like hate the sin and love the sinner?” I asked.
Now before you give me stink eye, like the counselor, let me explain. I believe the bible is the Living Word of God. I believe God has defined sin, and I cannot change His definition. I do not hate people. I hate the sin that divides us from God.
So, maybe you’ve already imagined, the counseling changed a bit after that. The counselor did most of the talking. She spoke at length about people she had counseled and how she’d helped them. Most of her topic matter was quite explicit. I learned why men are physically attracted to younger women, and what some older women do to remain attractive. I felt like I was listening to a cross between a medical documentary and an X rated movie. I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open in shock.
Finally, the counseling came back to talking about me. Apparently deciding I was unfulfilled, she wanted to refer me to a male counselor and insisted I take my husband. If he refused to go, she told me to be firm and tell him he had to go or I would leave him.
“No, I won’t do that!” I finally spoke up.
“So if he’s not meeting your needs, you are willing to stay married to him?” she asked.
I drove home with a business card in my pocket bearing the name of the suggested counselor. When driving alone I tend to use the time to pray. Don’t worry, I usually remember to keep my eyes open.
“Oh Lord what now…” is all I uttered.
Suddenly I heard it. Quietly at first, but it grew in intensity. I recognized the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, but it wasn’t still or small, “DO NOT SEEK THE ADVICE OF THE UNGODLY!”
That was many weeks ago. In that moment driving, God reminded me that we have an enemy. He is determined to corrupt our culture by destroying marriages and families. I began to realize I had mistakenly been listening to his words. Oh not directly. They were disguised in social media, news of world events, and even well intended comments spoken by friends and family. At some point the whispered lies got into my head and I heard them spoken by the voice of my own thoughts. “You are not loved. You are not enough. You are not worthy.” He was effective. He knew when I was tired, lonely and most vulnerable.
God is my compass. I have made some changes. A continual dialog of prayer is my sounding board. The Holy Spirit is my counselor.
My marriage still has its ups and downs like anyone’s. My husband loves me. He never stopped.
Parenting is still not easy. Why would it be?!? I’m preparing my children to be light in a dark world. The enemy doesn’t want that.
I have friends that still try to fix me. I smile and listen. I check their advice in prayer. I know their words are well intended. Sometimes I take their advice. Other times, I gently ask them to just shut up and pray!