I went to counseling.
Growing up, I used to think counseling was the magic pill that would fix all our family’s problems. We never actually went, but every time there was some sort of confrontation I was convinced counseling would solve everything.
For a while now I’ve known I want to become a counselor, but I knew I needed to get counseling myself first. (You have to help yourself first before you can help others.) Every time I go through transition or crisis in life, I feel paralyzed by my 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 grief on my own through this blog and writing in my journal, but I needed 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. Counseling deals with the deeper heart issues. The problem wasn’t outside of myself, it was 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 results in manipulation, selfishness, being the enabler, idolater of relationships, etc.
I have another confession to make.
Counseling didn’t change me.
Counseling exposed my sin and what I needed to change, but I didn’t want to. At one part during my counseling, I had to admit to not doing the homework and actually doing the opposite of what I was supposed to do. I knew what was right but wasn’t any different for it. My counselor pointed me to the weak willed women in 2 Timothy who were lead 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 hadn’t 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 perfected 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 ESV)
The Spirit is the ultimate counselor who enables us and brings true comfort. He will give you a knew heart. So repent, strive, and pray.