Do you ever feel like you need a counselor? Oh, I KNOW you would never admit that out loud or anything. After all, there must be something terribly WRONG with you to have to get help from someone. Such a stigma! Well, I’d like to say a few things along those lines, if you can lend me your ear for a couple of minutes.

When I was 13 years old I was caught shoplifting. I bet you weren’t expecting THAT! Have I also mentioned that my father was a police officer? Oh, and my oldest cousin as well? Indeed. Fortunately my father was not on the police department in the town I was shoplifting in. Phew! Unfortunately my cousin was. It seemed bad enough when the manager of the store called the police to come and get me, but I almost died on the floor when the doors slid open and my cousin in uniform walked in. Oh God, take me now!! He looked at me and was none too happy. “Wait until your father hears about this!” He disgustedly said out of the corner of his mouth. I knew my father would hear within the hour. But I tried to act tough and calloused about the whole thing. This was my “new” me…..on the outside. Inside, I WAS angry from many wrong things in my life but my heart was broken, not tough. I was trying to MAKE it tough so I would not hurt so much any more. I felt like such a failure in my life as I couldn’t even accomplish THAT! It just wasn’t working. I made a new commitment to work at it harder until I no longer cared. I practiced this inside of the police cell in front of the camera so my cousin would know that this whole incident was a joke to me. My friend that had been brought in with me was crying and saying how upset her parents would be. I kept saying to her, quite loudly, “Shut up!! Who cares?!” In reality, I was trying to keep myself from throwing up. After all, once my father was notified, I knew it would be the end of me anyway. He lived in another state so I figured I had a couple of hours left to come up with a plan before he pulled in.

Much to my surprise, the cell door opened and my cousin took me back out to the patrol car. He was driving me home! Hey, maybe this wasn’t so bad to have a few cops in the family after all! At least I’d not be seeing the inside of juvenile hall that day!

After lecturing me on the drive home he brought me to the door. He explained to my mother what was going on. I wasn’t too worried about that. But then he told my mother, “Get her into counseling or she”ll be brought before a judge”” Oh dear Lord! Now I was going to have to go see a shrink!! This just meant that “Mental Retard” would become one of my new names. It felt like just another weight added to an already overbearing load. My mother gave her word that she would do just that. Now the search was on for a suitable counselor. This new arrangement in itself felt like a “sentence”.

I’m not sure how my mom received direction on this issue. She may have asked the school guidance dept. for a recommendation. Much to my horror, I learned that I would be seeing a woman at the local, well known, mental institution! I’m serious! On top of all of the other anxieties that I carried with me 24/7, I now knew that my life depended on keeping this horrible secret out of the student population at school! I mean, come on! Wasn’t it enough just being a fatherless troublemaker who was beginning to struggle with addictions, running around with men twice my age and soon to face expulsion from school? Now Id have to live in terror that people would find out that I was a mental case! Oh man, as a 13 year old, it was simply too much. To be safe I kept my distance from most of the students, talking very infrequently, hoping to avoid attention. One GOOD side to this new arrangement was, I got to leave school early! Hallelujah! I hated school vehemently. My mom would now pick me up and from there we would drive thru the gates of the mental hospital. I think every time we did, a new layer of shame left a film on me.

I made sure that I began my sessions with the doctor by letting her know that I was a tough angry girl who would put up with nothing. I even tossed a few chairs around to emphasize my point. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, Tracy. That is just lame. Why don’t you just go ahead and get a permanent bed here?” But it was the best beginning I could think of. She seemed unfazed and was without reaction. I thought that was kind of weird so it threw me off my game. I sat down and we began to talk. She asked me questions and listened to me answer without interruption, all the while looking right into my eyes. I found very quickly that I liked this doctor. Deep down in my heart, the broken one hiding under the armor, I was so thankful and relieved to have, what felt like, help! SOMEone was spending time to talk to ME! Yes, that’s right, it was an appointment for ME! I don’t remember having to go to many sessions but just those few actually DID help! I got a lot of things out that were bothering me along with fears and present struggles. She worked on addressing them and I didn’t feel so hopeless anymore. I liked going and actually looked forward to that time. Then, to add to it, my mom would take me out to lunch afterward. Yup, just me and Mom! I would get a turkey sandwich with a Sprite. For dessert I had a strawberry sundae. It’s true! Can you believe I would remember those details after all of these years? I didn’t know it at the time but that experience I had with counseling birthed purpose within me. My mother grew and nurtured that desire in me as she talked and listened to me for years. It spoke to me of value. Well, at least TWO ladies thought I was worth their time and attention! But seriously, that’s how much of an impression you can make in the hearts of people when you show them that they have value and are worth your full attention and time. That can change a heart! Let’s be more specific, it can change a life!

That is EXACTLY why Jesus came. Each one of us are so important to God that He came to get us. His full attention was and still remains on each of us. Psalm 139 tells us that He put us together piece by piece in our mother’s womb, before anyone knew we were there! He knows our every thought before we think them, every word before we speak them. He even knows the number of strands of hair that each of us has. Romans 8:38&39 tells us that NOTHING- NO THING- can separate us from the Love of God that was IN Jesus. That love kept Jesus on the cross-not the nails.

Many years later, after I had come to have my own relationship with Jesus, I found myself going through an incredibly tough time. My thoughts and feelings were swirling and swirling within me. I couldn’t think through and get it settled inside of me. I was laying in bed one night, thinking and thinking. I was starting to cry. With an anguished heart I quietly squeaked out, “Lord, I need help! I just need someone to talk to about this! I need a counselor!” It was then that the Lord broke through my thoughts.

“Tracy, I AM your counselor! I’m THE counselor! That’s who I am! You have my full attention! I care! I will heal and guide you. Bring it all to ME!” I suddenly heard the song from my Mom’s beloved musical “The Messiah” start playing in my mind……

“Wonderful COUNSELOR, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Oh man! That’s right! I felt so relieved as I had been trying to be strong and handle things. I didn’t want to complain to the Lord but in the midst of that, along with all of the swirling thoughts inside, I forgot that the Lord is also “The Counselor” who says “Come unto me all of you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28-30)
I love how “The Message” unfolds that verse: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” I had a flash of a distant memory come back to me of being with the counselor many years previously. How patient, how kind, how supportive and helpful she was. I was welcome. In a way, she had been an example of Jesus to me, really. Do you know what I mean? With that comforting thought in mind, I started to unload my whole situation to the Lord, along with all of my feelings about it. What a great load was taken off of me as I knew that the Lord was listening to my every word, giving me His full attention. How beautiful, meek and caring the Lord is.

We can ALL follow this example. We are living in such a busy world. The last thing we seem to have is “time”. But if God gives us His time, couldn’t we offer a bit of the same to others? We never know the load a person may be carrying and how just listening to them, looking at them and giving them our attention may change that person’s life.
“Come and tell ME all that’s in your heart and weighing you down. I will lift your load.” Boy, that sounds like an invitation that I want to accept!

The Counselor’s in and the door is now open. Jesus made this open appointment for you. All you have to do is “come”. Grab a chair, sit down and begin. Jesus is all ears.

“Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you knew not.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

I feel better already. Boom, stigma gone.

3 thoughts on “Do You Need A Counselor? I do!

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    I am proud of you. You have a gift to touch peoples hearts. Keep going!!

    1. Thank you so much for that encouragement! I’m so thankful for all that God does in our everyday lives, troubles and situations to bring beauty out of piles of ashes! More stories of God’s faithfulness to come!😊

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