I had my first counseling appointment in five years yesterday. It was time. Maybe even a little overdue.
If you know me outside of my work at FINDINGbalance, you know the last few months have brought some unexpected disappointments, not to mention the usual distress I experience each summer when my kids are out of school and my normal routine is tossed out the window.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids. But God wired me to thrive in seasons of quiet productivity. Which means I need an extra dose of his grace during seasons of unpredictability and chaos.
Make that a triple-shot…
So it was hard to know if my frequent unkindness toward my husband, followed by my out-of-character tears when we talked about it, were due to the normal stresses of summer, the cancellation of my book deal, the discovery that the logo we’ve used for the past 8 years at my nonprofit was triggering to a large portion of our audience, or some other underlying issue I needed to dig into.
Or maybe just a combination of everything.
What was clear was that I was unhappy, and my distress was creating ripples of unhappiness around me. Which wasn’t fair – or loving – to anyone.
“Maybe it’s time you get some counseling,” A.J. said to me one night.
It wasn’t a bad idea.
I’ve done enough recovery work over the years to know that asking for help is one of the very best ways to love ourselves toward a richer understanding of God’s movement in our lives. But I was also worried about finances, and especially about how I was going to find the “right” person to walk with me through this season.
Given the work I do, let’s just say someone’s got to be pretty UH-mazing if they’re going to help me move beyond all the stuff I already know.
Luckily, God is more amazing than I am.
“We’ve actually met before,” said my new counselor at the top of our call yesterday. Even though I didn’t remember having met in person, God had apparently orchestrated that little moment eleven months and two thousand miles from our first official Skype appointment.
Of course he had.
By the end of our call, God had made himself known in other ways, too, and I was overcome by his goodness to me. By his love for me. By the hope of his promises to me – promises so meaningful they are worth the hard work of pursuing their fulfillment. And even the painful trials along the way.
This is the power of good counsel; it transforms our view of disappointments from jagged little pills to necessary growing pains. In times of disappointment we are reminded we must once again let go of our self-reliance and reach out for new life that only exists ahead of where we’ve grown comfortable being.
Because if we’re not growing, we’re dying.
I have fresh hope today. Even as I cringe at the thought of the “shame timeline” assignment I’ve been tasked with before next week’s appointment, I’m excited to see what God reveals through this process. Because I know more than ever that the tough stuff I’m wrestling through has a divine purpose.
Which totally changes everything.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28