Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: IMPOSSIBLE (09/05/19)
- TITLE: Overwhelmed
By Janet Richey
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Momma had reached her breaking point.
My therapist and I sat across from each other in a room no bigger than a cargo van. The refrigerator sized closet, blue carpet, and tattered pieces of baseball themed wallpaper border were indicators of a boys room in a previous life. It had all of the atmosphere of a thrift shop, but it was the trailhead of my path into Christian counseling that would change my perspective on nearly everything.
Built to withstand the punishment of a family of wild dogs, I shifted uncomfortably on a couch covered in a burlap-like fabric that awakened my mosquito bites. A six-foot-three former college volleyball star, Bob eased his lanky frame into a battered leather arm chair, sipped on his â€œ#1 Dadâ€ coffee mug, and started writing on a fresh legal pad. Everything about this unnerved me, and suddenly I was a laboratory rat, trying to find a way out.
But quitting wasnâ€™t an option. It was as though God himself had put a gentle hand on my shoulder. Within the walls of that post-war brick rancher, Bob and I methodically reviewed the contents of my life like a slide show. The tears were bitter and endless.
I was the child of deaf parents. My dad was a pastor of a deaf church, and he had other ministries that took him to revivals and crusades along mid-Atlantic United States. I saw him as a godly giant of a man who was accessible to everyone, any time of day or night, except to me. Based on first person accounts I learned that I was an unplanned pregnancy, and my brother had an inexplicable hatred towards me from the moment I was born. While unidentified in my early years, the presence of that kind of darkness was hard to escape, and I allowed it to shadow nearly every aspect of who I was.
By the time we reached our final therapy session fourteen years later, the location had changed, and thankfully, so had the seating. Bob's legal pad had grown to the thickness of two New York City phone books, and even our lopsided relationship morphed into something more familial. This man who I knew so little about personally, took my seemingly impossible life circumstances and turned it into something worth praising God for.
In our last moments, we shook hands for the first and last time; he had established gentle boundaries early on that prevented anything more. I felt like he had handed me the keys to a new car, trusting that I could navigate the rest of my life with Godâ€™s help, and supplied me with a toolbox filled with coping mechanisms, applicable scriptures and catchy phrases. Even now, five year later, I can hear his voice inside my head saying â€œprogress, not perfectionâ€.
Iâ€™ve been in enough Mom-oriented Bible studies to know that there is still a stigma attached to mental illness. Why do women take on the tribal mentality that Godâ€™s Word and denominationally exclusive weekend retreats are enough? Why do we think that weâ€™re somehow less Christian because we simply need more than an accountability partner?
I can show you a faded coffee stain on my kitchen wall that says that clinical depression, self sabotage, and anxiety are real. Sometimes, it takes more than a loving pastorâ€™s wife to treat those kinds of hurt. Sometimes, God uses trained professionals with a love for Him, to close the gap.
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