A Counselor's Story
I always knew I wanted to be a counselor. As a teenager, I remember reading Clyde Narramore’s Encyclopedia of Psychological Problems. Why did people’s problems and pain interest me so? Ultimately, I believe it has always been woven into God’s design and purpose for my life.
I grew up in church. As a pastor’s daughter, I saw that people in church had problems—marital trouble, wayward children, addictions, etc. Watching my dad counsel couple after couple, person after person, I soon realized that just because someone loves Jesus, it doesn’t mean their life will be problem-free.
It wasn’t until I hit some trouble of my own, though, that I began to ask some pretty deep questions. I needed help to sort it all out. Sure, I thought I knew the Bible (Remember, I am a preacher’s kid.) But, I soon learned that just having head knowledge of God’s Word wasn’t enough.
A Christian counselor helped me. We sorted through my difficult questions, especially in light of God’s Word. He wasn’t offended or judgmental, even when I expressed anger and bitterness. He questioned many things I believed, and he helped me heal and grow, both spiritually and emotionally, filtering all counsel through the lens of Scripture.
This process is neither quick nor easy. You don’t walk in and, after 50 minutes, walk out healed, with all of your problems solved. Emotional growth is spiritual growth, and spiritual growth should promote emotional growth, none of which is easy to navigate alone.
Counseling takes time—sometimes a long time.
No matter how long ago they happened, ignoring deep wounds can be like ignoring a splinter. If you refuse to deal with it, it’s going to fester and become infected. Our inner pain and emotional wounds will surface. They can manifest themselves as depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, etc. We all have blind spots, and we need someone to help us see what we’ve ignored.
Several years later, when I was around 40, my job was being faded out. My husband looked at me and said, “What is it that you’ve always wanted to do? What have you always wanted to be when you grew up?” I don’t think I hesitated at all when I said, “I want to be a counselor.” Wow! 20 plus years later, that same burning desire to help people resurfaced.
I remember sitting in my counselor’s office telling him about the conversation I’d had with my husband. His response was, “So why aren’t you doing it?” I think I actually asked out loud if he thought God could still use me. I voiced several reasons why it would never work: I never liked school, and I’m not sure I’m smart enough to go to grad school. I’m afraid I wouldn’t know what to say except, ‘man, you’ve got some serious problems!’ My counselor responded, “I think God can use you now more than ever before.”
After being out of school for 20 years, I entered graduate school. Glory be to God, I received my Master’s in Clinical Counseling and with good grades to boot! As my mom would say, “What a difference 20 years makes!”
Christian counseling can be life-changing.
It’s not because counselors have magical powers or give lots of great advice, but because God can work powerfully through them to speak His healing truth into your life.
If you’re searching for a counselor, I strongly encourage you to seek one who knows the Word of God and who understands how to help people heal from the inside out. Pray for God’s direction in finding a good counselor—one you can connect with. It just might save your life.
A few things to consider when choosing a Christian counselor:
Don’t expect an easy fix.
Be open to self-reflection.
Be willing to return to your deepest wounds.
Gena Lindsey currently works as an individual and family therapist for a local school district. She is married to Morgan and has a daughter, a son, and two step-daughters. Gena enjoys spending time with family, baking, crafting, and reading.