Sometimes I’m wise enough to slow down and be still. Not often. But sometimes. Gratefully, this morning was such a time. And it gave me a moment to pause and praise God for all He is doing in the lives of several of my clients….and what He’s doing in me.
I’ve worked with a client–we’ll call her Sue–for several years. She has done great work in counseling and has overcome many obstacles and strongholds in her life. Knowing her childhood history of sexual abuse, it is easy to see why she has struggled in so many ways. Recently we’ve been working on a particular issue…possibly what I might call her “last big thing” to overcome.
Now Sue is a delightful woman, but in the therapeutic process she can be a little “intense and stubborn” (her own words). When she came to counseling yesterday, I could tell she had a mission and was ready to accomplish something. In this mode, she often has her defenses up and rationalization cap on. We spent a good bit of our time together discussing this one particular issue, bantering a bit back and forth about what she knows is truth but what she’s tempted to believe instead.
Then she dropped the bomb. She told me about something she found at home that could prove to be a very big stumbling block in her healing process. She told me. But she wasn’t ready to do anything about it. And I’ve worked with her long enough to know when to push and when to wait. I decided not to push but gently reminded her of the steps backward she would take if she didn’t choose to remove the stumbling block. The hour was over, and she commented that she didn’t feel like she had accomplished much. But as she walked out of the office, I told her that she would soon understand what had been accomplished and again reminded her of the right thing to do.
Several hours later and after several more clients, I opened the door to my office and saw something unusual (i.e., not normally there) on the floor with a piece of notebook paper taped to it. Baffled at first, I picked it up and instantly knew who it was from. The note said: “What I accomplished today was that I brought something into the light that had potential to do me harm…I was honest. And I know counseling isn’t about ‘accomplishment’–but about God’s truth permeating my life–the good, bad, and ugly.”
She went on to write: “I wanted to do the right thing and the best thing for me, but I also wanted to escape…but bottom line is I didn’t want the temptation in front of me to hinder my prayers, and once I decided to do [the right thing], I needed to get this out of my house.”
Pure joy for this counselor’s heart.
And then there’s “Sally.” I’ve been meeting with Sally for about a year and a half. She came to counseling because she had just acknowledged that she had an addiction to alcohol. She has struggled to stay sober for more than about 90 days at one time, but what I love about this woman is that she keeps coming back. And each time she does, she has a little more insight and a little more willingness to admit her powerlessness over alcohol and to fully surrender to God. The last time she got drunk was about a month and a half ago. When she told me, there was something different about her. Although I know that relapse is part of the disease of addiction, my impression was that this time will be different.
We had an appointment scheduled for today, but she sent a text this morning saying that she needed to reschedule because she was sick. Truthfully, I did wonder for a moment if she’d drank again. But when I told her to call me at her appointment time so that we could compare calendars, she asked if we could have a phone session, adding “Things are good. Can’t wait to tell u!” And I can’t wait to hear! There is nothing more rewarding than a client who is so dedicated to her healing journey that she will find a way to do counseling even when she’s sick.
Again, pure joy for my heart.
Finally, I had time to pause and praise God for what He’s doing in my life. In many ways, I can relate to these two clients. For those who know me well, “intense and stubborn” could often be two words used to describe me too! I also struggled with an alcohol addiction, and though relapse has not been a part of my story, I created plenty of chaos during my 15-year battle with the bottle! But like “Sally”, once I tasted freedom, very little would keep me from counseling. Not even after a tornado blew through town and a tree lay on top of my counselor’s house! (Seriously…true story.)
While I’ll skip the personal details for now, I’ve been experiencing quite a bit of growth in a very important area of my life. It actually has something to do with the “stubborn and intense” part of me. For the first time, I’m seeing some things differently and feel as if perhaps I’ve turned another corner in my own healing journey. Grateful.
As I ponder all of this….what God has done and is doing in the lives of Sue and Sally…and even me…it makes me think of a favorite promise in Scripture.
“I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)
Amen and Amen.