They were simple things, really. A few personal issues that were starting to mess with my thoughts and me. They were nothing I couldn’t deal with. Or so I thought. After another night of crying myself to sleep while my husband held me, unsure of what to do, we finally decided my struggles were too big for us to deal with alone.
Growing up, I was told that if I just trusted God more, things I was struggling with would just go away. They wouldn’t hurt anymore. After all, I loved God. I was a Christian. He should be enough for me. Any mention of a struggle was often met with, “How are you and God?” as if the ideas of a struggle and a good relationship with God were mutually exclusive.
“Just focus on God, and He’ll get you through this.”
“I’ll be praying for you.”
“How are you and God? Really?”
People forgot that I was hurting from a devastated friendship, that I had scars on my arms from self-injury, that I felt abandoned sometimes. and that despite everything, I loved God and longed to follow Him. But now, here I was, five years later, curled up in a ball in our bedroom. My husband ventured the idea of talking to someone. It took me several months before I got up the courage to do just that. I met with a counselor once. She never called me back to schedule another appointment. Clearly, this was going well.
I had dinner with two friends about a month later. Over a plate of chocolate cake, I suddenly found myself pouring out my heart to these girls. They cried with me, prayed with me and recommended another counselor if I was still looking.
I told my husband this was my last shot. If this counselor didn’t work out, we were just going to have to fight through this our own way. I walked into Tiana’s “office” nervous. Actually, it was the church nursery, and there were stuffed animals on the floor. But, there, surrounded by stuffed Muppets and Disney characters, God met me. Counseling is a huge decision, and it’s not for everyone. The idea of walking into an office and pouring out your deepest hurts and struggles to a complete stranger may seem overwhelming or completely undoable. It’s like having a secret junk closet in your perfectly neat little house, and suddenly the complete stranger walks over, opens the door and throws everything on the floor.
There are no secrets anymore.
I spent a lot of time crying.
I finally told my counselor I just wanted to be done with this all. I didn’t want it to hurt anymore. I just wanted the redemption I knew God had waiting for me once I was finished with counseling.
She paused for a moment and said, “Lynn, God doesn’t have redemption for you at the end of all this—He has it for you right now, in the middle of everything, in the middle of all these messes. God’s redemption isn’t some grand prize if you make it through everything. His redemption begins now, in this journey. It’s not just the destination.”
It’s not just the destination. I still struggle every day. I still cry myself to sleep sometimes. Having issues in your life does not make anyone a bad Christian. Loving God and struggling with life are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes His redemption from the pain of a broken world comes when you least expect them. You see it as a friend sits and cries with you, when God begins to heal that secret hurt you’ve been carrying around so long. God started to bring redemption in my life through two of my friends and a counselor in a church nursery.
But redemption is part of the journey. You just have to go for it.