I haven’t shied away that I had some bumps along the way in the my early 20s. Bumps? Potholes? Giant Disasters? Okay, not my brightest moments, you get it.
A few years back I was past all of it, but I was also left with a lot of it. And sometimes, even us - feeling-emotional-processing all the timers - don't always know what to do with the baggage we carry around. I wanted to be open, but I didn't really have the tools to get there.
And sometimes we all need some help getting to where we know we want to go.
I made a vow to myself to be more honest (read here for more on that journey), and with that came a call to obedience. And I knew in order to do anything with my story, I had to first heal from my story.
The day I made the video for my baptism, I sat next to a girl in church who mentioned counseling. She mentioned it so casually I wanted to cry because I was so desperate for a name, a contact, someone I could trust. I had been to a counselor before. At a church and in secret, because I didn't want anyone to know about it. She was great, she was, but sometimes it’s hard for someone to help you, when your still in the pit. I also tried another one when I first moved to Atlanta, but that one wasn't the right fit either.
My new friend happily gave me her counselor’s name, who then referred me to her colleague because she was all booked up at the time. Coincidence? Never. My experience was the perfect fit for where I was and gave me the tools/strength/bravery to get where I wanted to go. I went to counseling a lot that year, but I haven't been nearly as much in the years following. Maybe that the thing about it, it’s seasonal, and it’s different lengths for everybody.
And listen, I get it. It’s expensive. If you're like me, I’d rather buy new shoes at DSW ( or 6 at Target) then pay for a session where I will hurt and cry and I’ll leave with my mascara looking like I just worked in the coal mines.
Years ago I remember sitting next to this guy at a church event. He told me and the rest of the lunch table this story about his financial woes and how a few months back someone had given him a check for just the right amount for his rent that month. Wow! So Amazing!
And it left me thinking how no one ever gave me a check for the right amount for my last Target run (gah, I talk about Target too much).
However, years later I was an intern (making very little money), living in Atlanta ( a very expensive city) and desperately needing counseling. And there was no mailbox moment. There were no checks handed out in the perfect amount or random strangers giving me cash on the streets.
But I will say this, I never lacked that year. I never couldn't pay rent or went without food. I don’t even remember having to cut back ( maybe to Target). But the point is when you know the Lord is calling you somewhere, He doesn’t leave you on your own to get there. He provides. It looks different for everyone but he never leaves us stranded.
I’m not saying God is going to miraculously put the exact amount in your bank account. But I'm not going to say He won’t. I will say, when he ask you to obey - he just asked that you take the first step. And then the next. And then the next. Psalms 119:105 says " You word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path” A lamp unto our feet. Not, “Here's the whole way/plan/map.” Nope, just a lamp right up near your feet, guiding your next steps.
On my third counseling appointment, this poor woman had heard ( and seen via tears) my darkest moments. Because anyone reading this thinking about counseling should know, that’s what the first sessions are like. They are you telling them why you are there and if you're me, then you cry. A lot. (God bless the Thinkers, I hear you can tell your whole life story and never shed a tear. Jealous).
Anyway on my third visit, my sweet counselor pulled out a piece of paper. She said “Rebecca, I was reading a book the other day and this phrase jumped out at me and seems to describe all the things you’ve been telling me. So I wrote it down for you.”
Terrified, surprised, and crying probably, I listened as she read what she wrote on the piece of paper:
|| Shame is basically the fear of being unlovable - it’s the total opposite of owning our story and feeling worthy. In fact, the definition of shame is: The instantly painful feel or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. Shame keeps worthiness away by convincing us that owning our stories will lead to people thinking less of us.
Shame = Fear -Brene Brown, Gifts of Imperfections ||
I still have that piece of paper in my wallet today. I want the reminder that in that moment, I interacted with the Divine.
I want it as close to me as I can at all times. I never want to forget what it felt like to be known, and to know wholeheartedly that the hurt, the tears, and the ugly cry faces where not in vain.
Because of the hours I spent in that chair, the clearer the path came.
The more hope became real to me and the more hope I then give to someone else.
That though sin runs deep in our lives and in our stories, His grace is so much more.
To profess that there is real freedom and that the burden you carry so tightly behind you - you can let down.
Jesus + Counseling make me better. End of story. My advice for anyone toying with the idea is do it. With your whole heart. With an open heart.
And maybe the theme isn't counseling. Maybe its obedience ( which my lessons so often are because I'm so often not). Maybe it’s obeying the next step.
And trusting the little lamp guiding our feet.