Tag Archives: counseling

If You’re Hurting, This Message is For You

A couple days ago I was at the Dr’s office with my daughter and sitting in the crowded waiting room, waiting for the doctor to see her. She’s had a rough time getting over what we first thought was just a cold– and it morphed into a 4 week round of sickness that really had her beat down. There was a lot of coughing and sniffling and phones ringing going on in that waiting room.

And then my phone rang.

A young woman asked for me by my name, saying she was looking for some counseling. I had a hard time hearing her, and I couldn’t quite get her name nor the name of the person who she said referred her to me. I told her I would love to talk with her further but that I was at the doctor’s office and could she text me her name and phone number so I could call her back later, after the appointment?

She said she would do that. But I never received a text from her that day.

When I looked into my call history to see if I could find her number and call her, I found it was a private, unlisted number. There was no way for me to contact her now. There was no way for me to call the person who had referred her because due to the noisy room and the poor reception, I couldn’t quite get the name of who she said had referred her to me.

So a woman reached out to me for help. And I cannot reach her. And that thought breaks my heart. But more importantly, I wonder how broken her heart is and if she is okay?

My husband and I have a ministry where we do a type of crisis counseling for marriages at the breaking point. Many times the couples have already tried formal counseling with a trained marriage therapist, or they sought counseling at their church, and they’re still at the end of their rope. They’re at a crossroads and need help at that very point –or their marriage might not make it.

I’ve also met with women on a one-to-one basis to encourage and coach them through any troubling life issue that they’re having trouble dealing with. Together we dig into the truth of God’s Word, the principles of healthy living and having a sound mind, and we prayerfully unite to make a breakthrough of sorts; or at least to initiate the beginning of a breakthrough– so that she at least walks out of our time together without that foreboding sense of I Can’t make it through this! hanging over her.

But I couldn’t do this with that woman. I couldn’t even offer an encouraging word in that busy noisy setting I was in, other than “I will call you right back!”

I don’t know what exactly this woman was calling me about. But I do know that she tried to ask for help. And that tells me that she’s possibly already on track– because she initiated a call; she reached out.

I want to tell her and every one of you who is hurting– Don’t stop! Don’t stop seeking the compassionate help that everyone deserves when their situation is critical, when their load in life is unbearably heavy. Don’t stop asking for someone to meet with you. Look for a capable, kind person with the resources and background experience that you need for the situation you’re in. Don’t be afraid to say what you’re feeling! Please call someone for help. And if you can’t reach them, call again.

One of the hardest things about going through a crisis or facing a troubling situation where you feel you’re not equipped, is the accompanying loneliness or isolation that you might be experiencing. You have a major problem, when you’ve got a major problem–but add to that a sense of being alone in the journey, or cut off from fellowship, or if you mistakenly felt rejected by God, and you now have an unbearable burden.

We weren’t meant to face challenges and fight battles as a Super Solo Survivor.  We are capable people but we are human– we need to grieve, mourn our losses,  and be real about the pain we feel. Hiding our trauma or our anxiety keeps us bound up in that. It’s time to get real about what we face, what we cannot deal with on our own. It doesn’t mean we are weak or an inferior Christian– it means we feel, we ache, we hurt, and we heal.

This has been a rough year for me, emotionally, with complex problems in some surprising relationships that have worn me out, worn me down a little. But I’ve also had certain precious relationships grow in richness and love and comfort. There’s been hugs and prayerful support and sometimes that compassionate listening ear that lets you just pour it all out. We need to pour it out. Don’t let the pain build up inside, my friend.

Most of all, keep asking God to show up in your messy distressing scene– He is  able to make Himself at home in the midst of your crisis, and permeate that whole yucky scene with His fragrant aroma of peace. Powerful peace in the midst of it all, peace in spite of it all. Ask Him to surprise you with His miraculous comfort, His surprising connections that lead to friendship and true fellowship, His unlimited resources for all of your needs.

To the girl who called for help, I’m praying for you.

And to the girl who hasn’t yet made that call, this might just be that nudge that you need, that sign that you asked for, to let you know– you don’t have to journey alone.

Advertisements

The Sound of a Healthy Relationship

Nothing really shocks me when it comes to the reality of relationship problems many of us experience. So over the years, I’ve had the privilege of couples asking me to help spiritually counsel them in their troubled relationships. I’ve listened to women weeping, and men with averted eyes of pain, sharing their stories of relational breakdown. And the sound of weeping, angry words, and anguished questioning breaks my heart. It breaks God’s heart too.

But there is another sound that is literally music to my ears. It’s a secret, almost indiscernible sound that occurs in healthy relationships. And when I hear it, I get excited for that couple and their future. It’s not romantic music playing in the background or the sound of someone whispering sweet nothings in their partner’s ears.

Let me tell you about the sound of a couple on their way to growth, wholeness, and lasting love. Listen in as they talk to each other and deal with their baggage and their pain. Here’s what you’ll hear with your spiritual ears, if you listen carefully:

It’s the sound of chains falling. Bondages being broken.

When I see a couple that knows how to not only care for one another, forgive each other– yes, all that– but actually knows how to powerfully and prayerfully counsel each other, then I know that couple will make it. They will go the distance. They can overcome any obstacle, trial, or challenge in their relationship.

I Didn’t Sign Up for That!

You might say, “Lauren, I’m not a trained counselor! I didn’t sign up to do counseling when I got married.”

But you don’t have to have a Master’s degree to counsel your loved one. You don’t have to have thick psychology textbooks on hand to speak to your spouse the words that will break that despair they’re battling, that bondage they’re under. You just have to lovingly listen, and know the Bondage Breaker Himself, Jesus Christ. He will break every chain of deception and despair that’s on you. His Word speaks with authority.

And it’s not that you have to be a theologian and understand every nuance in every verse. The basic principles are there for even a child to understand: He is for us, not against us. He gave His life for us so that we can have abundant life. It’s His will that we forgive each other, bear with each other, love each other. And it’s not His will that we are in bondage to any secret sin, addiction, or pattern of defeat.

So here’s how you start: agree that you won’t ever lie to each other about what you’re personally battling. Agree that you both may have negative patterns developed from your past that need to be changed. And agree that in your relationship, you will pray for and fight for healing, wholeness and personal growth. Pray for that repeatedly.

And I’ll Be There…Always

Be committed to being each other’s counselor in the best sense of that word–because the Holy Spirit is our Counselor.

John 14:15-17 …I will ask the Father to give you another Helper, to be with you always. He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. But you recognize him, because he lives with you and will be in you.

The Holy Spirit comforts and helps us. He counsels and convicts us when we’re going off course. And while we don’t have the perfection of soul to convict someone of sin (leave that to God) there is something powerfully important about His ultimate function on earth: He is always with us. Ask God to help you function the same way, with your fiance or spouse. Commit to being there for them, always, in that same attitude.

Unstoppable

In our 33 years of marriage, Bill and I have counseled and comforted each other countless times. We have often joked about sending each other a bill for our counseling services rendered to each other. We’ve logged thousands and thousands of hours of prayerfully listening to each other unburden ourselves of hurts, fears, and painful memories from our past. And because of that trust built, the healing received, and the comfort of counsel given, we’ve become unstoppable as a married couple.

So reassure your spouse of your commitment to them. Tell your loved one, “I want to see you well. I want to see you whole. I want to see you walking in everything God has destined for you. And I’m not going to stop listening to you and praying and declaring that over you.

Let them hear you say that. Say it with conviction. And live it out.

Then get ready to hear that wonderful sound that lets the two of you know–you will make it: It’s the sound of Chains Falling.