I have a confession to make…
I went to counseling.
What, not dramatic enough for you? That’s the funny thing about counseling. Talking to a professional about your problems is either perceived as completely normal or completely taboo.
Growing up, I used to think counseling was the magic pill that would fix all of my family’s problems. We never actually went, but every time there was some sort of family conflict I was convinced counseling would solve everything.
For a while now I’ve known I want to become a counselor. Yet I had never gone to counseling myself. You know how the flight attendant instructs you to place the face mask on yourself before helping the person next to you? Well, I finally realized I needed to help myself. Every time I go through a transition or crisis in my life, I feel paralyzed by a fear of pain; I try to move on, but feel so alone and scared. I think I’ve done a good job dealing with my fears myself, but there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
Going into counseling, I thought we would talk about problems outside of my control, but I quickly realized the problem wasn’t a particular person or situation, but how I responded to them. Counseling deals with the deeper heart issues. The problem wasn’t external, it was found within. As a people-pleaser, I hate confrontation, in part because I don’t want to hurt people, but mainly because I don’t want to get hurt myself. This can manifest as manipulation, selfishness, enabling, idolater of relationships, etc.
I have another confession to make.
Counseling didn’t fix me.
Counseling exposed my sin and what I needed to change, but I didn’t want to. At one part during my counseling, I did not complete my homework and had to admit to actually doing the opposite of what I was instructed to do. I knew what was right, but I wasn’t willing to obey. My counselor pointed me to the weak willed women in 2 Timothy who were led astray by their sins and wrong desires. They were “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). They knew the truth, but they had not learned anything from it. I could go to counseling for years, read all the books, listen to all the sermons, but unless I change my ways, I haven’t actually learned anything. It’s not enough to know the truth; you have to act according to the truth as well.
Although I’ve concluded my counseling sessions, I am by no means perfect and will never be, not until God calls me home. Some struggles go away with time; others are a struggle for life. That’s why sanctification is a process. Our focus shouldn’t be on “fixing ourselves”, instead we need to focus on Christ and who we are in Him.
I hope to learn from my counseling; I want to change and grow, but I can’t do it alone. If I’ve learned one thing from counseling, it’s that I need to pray for God’s help more. Only He can change hearts. That’s why He gave us the Spirit.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
The Spirit is the ultimate counselor who enables us and brings true comfort. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” So there is hope; you and I can obey His truth because He has given us a new heart and is at work within us. We are not going to be perfect, so continually repent, strive, and pray for help. And most importantly, trust in God. He is not done with us yet.