Saturday, October 31, 2015

I "Graduated" Therapy This Week...

I "graduated" therapy this week. That's hard to say. It's hard to admit that I need help. But I want to tell you what God has done in my life in the past year. I want you to know that choosing to go to therapy was one of the best decisions of my life. I want to publicly praise God for His faithfulness in my life.

I grew up thinking that only weak Christians needed therapy, that if someone would just have more Jesus in their life, if they would just pray more, they would be fine. I believed that depression was not a real thing. Mental or emotional issues were a sole result of a lack of faith and were a clear indication of one's shallow relationships with God.

Then my "perfect" little life hit a trial. A trial that lasted for over a year. And I couldn't handle it alone. Tim and I couldn't handle it. I was put in what was diagnosed as a toxic work environment. An environment that left me doubting my worth as a person. An environment that consistently tried to undermine God's word and the core of what I believe about God, marriage, and people. 

Here I was, newly married, madly in love with my hubby, and struggling more internally than I had ever imagined. During this trial we bought a beautiful home, found an incredible church home, made amazing Godly friends, adopted our furever Buddy, bought a cute little SUV...on the outside, life continued to appear perfect for us.

But what those outside of our family couldn't see was the nights that I would come home and barely make it to the couch in the piano  room and sob for hours, unable to move. Or the days I'd cry on the way to work because I was so emotionally exhausted from the day prior. Or the nights I couldn't make dinner because I was in bed depressed beyond words that I was a failure at every single role in my life. The times I closed my office door and sobbed, begging God to get me out of the situation. The lunchtimes that I went home to cry and pray.

When you wake up and wish you were sick throwing up rather than walking into a certain situation, I submit that you should consider getting some help! It's a miserable place to be. I did not realize until weeks into therapy that I had allowed my toxic work environment, and the lies being spoken into my life in that environment, to affect many other areas of my life. I began to believe, completely unaware of what was happening, that if what the work situation was saying was truth than I must be a horrible wife, friend, and Christian. This was where the pain was deepest. A job isn't forever, a coworker, a boss, they will eventually be gone, but if I'm a bad wife, friend, and Christian, those are forever. I am truly hopeless.

For months, Tim and I struggled through this. I had lows that I can't explain in words. Finally, Timmy said, "We cannot keep doing this. We have to get help." He had heard at both our last church and our current church about a counseling/therapy center that was centered on God's word. I remember making the call to schedule an appointment, crying through the call because I just knew I was having to ask for help because I wasn't the believer I was supposed to be. I was a failure once again. 

But God is faithful. Into my life stepped HELP*, my therapist, my gift from God. (*Don't want to publicly post her name.)

For a little over a year I have met with HELP faithfully, almost weekly. God has used her to change my life. He did not remove the situation right away. In fact, Tim and I and our friends prayed diligently for over a year before God changed my circumstances. I don't say this just because it's over, but I truly am so thankful for that time. Those painful, dark times taught me so much about my God. He has pulled me deeper and deeper, and I'm so thankful. As I told HELP a few weeks ago, God knew I needed her before I knew I needed her. God knew that she was going to be a huge impact in my life and my walk with God. 

HELP taught me to distinguish what was a lie from Satan and what was truth from God's word. It's amazing how easily deceived we are. That was a hard lesson to learn to, because I have always felt that I was a thinker and that I was able to easily distinguish truth and lies, and I learned through therapy that I'm quite good at it in other people's lives. I can easily see how lies are affecting others, and I am compassionate and intense about encouraging them to over come lies, but in my own life, it was exactly the opposite. I was drowning in lies about myself. I couldn't see the truth of who God has created me to be.

In the future, I hope to take some time to share some of the specific lessons God has taught me in the last year, but for now, the point of this post, is to tell you that:

1. Sometimes we need help. Sometimes we just can't do it on our own. And that is ok. God doesn't expect us to do life alone. He gives us community and friends and family. I know that personally I love to come alongside a friend and pray for her about a need or struggle. Don't believe the lie that there's noone to help you.

2. You are not the only person struggling in this area. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Since going through this journey I have met so many women who are going to therapy, there are 3 specific women in my life who I found out were also in therapy. Godly women that others would probably be shocked to know they are struggling through depression. That encouraged me. And that's why I write this post. It's hard because pridefully I don't want you to know I've been going through this. Only my close friends and family know. But God moved in my life in a powerful way this past year, and I believe it is my duty to give him the glory and praise for what He has done in my life.

3. The need for therapy or counseling IS NOT because of a lack of spirituality in your life. Don't fall for that lie of Satan. And if your church is teaching that you just need to suck it up and pray more if you are struggling through depression or emotional or mental issues, you need to run FAST. I'm not saying find the closest psychiatrist and jump on buckets of anti-depressants, but He graciously provides us resources and opportunities to grow and learn. Please don't let your pride get in the way of getting help. 

I refuse to let this past year be a waste in my walk with God or in my relationships with others. I believe that honest, authentic lives are how we walk alongside others. I could sit quietly on my last year, bask in the presence of God, privately glorifying Him for all He has done, but I believe He has called me to be real and use this personal example to help others. God has given me an incredible new job situation. Yesterday I had the opportunity to pray with my boss for his daughter who is sick. God has completely transformed this area of my life, and I am grateful, but I don't want to forget what He taught me either.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, mental issues, emotional issues, etc., I encourage you to get help. Pray about where you might find that help (sometimes churches have a counseling ministry but don't be afraid to go outside your church building). If you are in the Pittsburgh area, I HIGHLY recommend Grace Wellness Center. They are licensed counselors and they accept insurance. This is the real deal, not a hokey, strange religious group that tells you how you just need to pray more. They truly know how to help you. We ended every session in prayer and often when I would be sharing a 'lie" that I was failing at, HELP would say, "Well, Jesus had a similar situation like that, how did He respond?"

Tim and I have been married for 2.5 years. I spent almost all of that in a very dark place. I'm thankful that God is healing my heart, and moving me past this trial. I'm thankful for the incredible, Godly man God has given me who has patiently loved me through many ugly cries. He has surrounded me with unconditional love even when he couldn't understand what I was going through. I'm thankful that the past month, Tim and I have seen a wonderful change already. The other night he said to me, "I really like your new job." That was code for "I like how things are different in our home now that you are out of that toxic environment." We have definitely noticed a change, but I believe had I gone through the trial without therapy, things would have ended very differently. I believe I would still be struggling inside, I would not be where I am in my walk with God, and our marriage would have suffered. Please don't let pride get in your way of getting help if you need it!

If I can help you in any way, even just to pray with you about your struggles, please email or message me. I have seen firsthand that God can do big things in our life when we lay aside our pride and fear and just trust Him. I also know that in my future there might be times again where I will need help, but next time I won't wait until I'm in such darkness before I seek help. God wants me to live a full life that brings glory to Him and draws others to Him. If that means that I occasionally might have to spend some weeks in therapy so that I can grow deeper in my walk with Him, sign me up.

From one broken Jesus lover to another,

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