About this time I was talking to some Christian friends of mine about going to counseling. I guess I thought that counseling wasn’t quite the failure that drugs were so I was willing to try it. Not to mention that I knew I needed to do something before I totally lost it. My friends told me about a counseling center near me that was run by the International Center for Biblical Counseling (ICBC). They were Christian-based, of course, and they had a ministry that included helping people who were being demonically oppressed or possessed.
Now, whether or not a Christian can be bothered by demons was an issue that we had discussed at times with our former pastor and I really didn’t have an opinion on it. The thing that drew me to ICBC was that they were Christian counselors…who worked on a donation basis. Being that we didn’t have any health insurance and not much extra money, I wanted to go to ICBC to get help.
I called them and they told me that they would really like to help me but they didn’t have any openings. In fact they wouldn’t have any until later in the fall. This was summer. I needed help now. What to do? What to do? I asked the receptionist if she could recommend anyone else and she gave me the name of a counselor in the city an hour and a half away. I thanked her and called his office.
I will call him Tom. Tom was not a part of a ministry. He was a part of a business. His fee was $90 for a 50 minute hour! This seemed so totally out of reach that I figured I would not be able to do it. I went to my husband and talked to him about it. I told him the price. I waited……he actually said okay! I was really glad. I think he wanted to see me get some help and if I wouldn’t take the drugs, at least this was something. Our home was not a pleasant place to be for anyone and as my ex always used to say,”If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
I always hated that.
I made the appointment and went to see Tom. Our first meeting, I just pretty much told him what had been going on in my life. I had never been to a Christian counselor before and I hadn’t really bared my soul to a man either but here I was, paying for the privilege to do so. At the end of our “hour” I said to Tom, “I am really angry. I mean, when I walked in here, I wasn’t mad but now I am really, really angry!” He turned from the filing cabinet and looked me in the eye and said, “ I’ll bet your angry. You have reason to be.” How wonderful! I had felt so much guilt at being angry. I had felt shame and sorrow at my inability to just “let go and let God”. Here was this counselor giving me permission to be angry! I was lighthearted as I drove home.
I saw Tom 4 times and each time it was good for me but I felt such guilt at the end of our sessions when I had to write him that check. $90…every week..we lived well below the poverty level and here I was “wasting” money on this counselor. On one hand, I felt like I was wasting our family’s few dollars but on the other hand I knew I needed to do something!
A month after I started seeing Tom, I got a phone call from ICBC. Something had changed and I could come up to meet with a pastoral counselor if I wanted to. I made the appointment and breathed a sigh that I would not have to shell out 90 bucks every week for counseling. I know that that amount is probably inexpensive for most counselors but to me it was almost exorbitant.
I drove to my appointment at ICBC. Not only was it donation based, so I didn’t have to pay each time, but it was half the distance away and my appointments were scheduled for an hour and a half. A 90 minute hour!
I met Glenn, who was a very kind, older gentleman who had been a pastor for many years. He was a great listener. He accepted me. He seemed to understand what I was struggling with. He agreed that my husband was not acting in a Christlike way. He also believed that my husband was being deceived by demons by thinking that God had a plan for him that didn’t include me.
I felt so comfortable with Glenn and even brought my guitar up one week to play and sing a special song for him. This counseling relationship went on for a year and a half. Glenn was such a spiritual giant in my eyes. He would pray for me and my children and my husband and I just knew God was listening to him.
Sometimes I would bring up jam or jelly I had made or fresh eggs from the farm for him and his wife as a thank you. Sometimes our home church made a donation to the ministry for him. Always I was there for my appointments, usually with a kid in tow just so we could have some special mom time together. I never brought the kids in the counseling room with me but we’d get lunch together afterward or go shopping at Walmart for groceries…that sort of thing.
Glenn always tried to help me to focus on my relationship to God and Jesus. He felt that if I could just stop being so dependent on my husband and could allow God to meet my needs, then I wouldn’t be so incredibly miserable. I remember talking to him once about forgiveness and he was trying to help me understand how important it was for me to do this. I said, “I feel like if I forgive my husband for all the things he has said and done that have hurt, crushed and destroyed me, I will be saying that it’s okay. It’s okay that he did and said those things. I can’t do that.” No matter how Glenn tried to explain it to me, I just couldn’t do it.
Well I already knew I was a worthless Christian. If I wasn’t, then my own husband would pray with me like he prays with the ladies at the jail where he ministers every week, right? If I wasn’t such a rotten Christian then I wouldn’t be needing this counseling at all. I mean, my husband was depressed, he told me so. And he just went to God and God helped him through it. God was enough for him. He told me that also. So what was wrong with me? Guess I am just a rotten Christian…won’t forgive my husband so God isn’t going to forgive me. That’s what the Bible says.
At this point…I didn’t really care anymore. I saw my husband as God in some weird co-dependent way. When my husband rejected me…God rejected me. When my husband’s countenance didn’t shine on me, neither did God’s. I could only hope that the Baptists had it right (once saved always saved) and that we were wrong. We believed that you could lose your salvation. If you died in a state of sinfulness, all bets were off and you were condemned to hell. I really couldn’t care less anymore. I had been so beaten down, so rejected, so tossed aside…
About 9 months after I started seeing Glenn, I became pregnant with my 11th baby. I thought (foolishly) that having another baby could help our marriage. I prayed that God would allow me to conceive and …I did! After my son was born, I took a short break from counseling but started right back up as soon as I could. Having a baby didn’t save anything. If anything…it was just another stress on the marriage.
I had gained a fair amount of weight with my pregnancy. I remember being at the memorial service of a dear friend who had lost a parent. I was talking to my pastor’s wife. I had had many talks with her and she had always encouraged me to give it all to the Lord and trust that He would take care of me and my emotional needs. When I would tell her that my husband got into the bed with me for a 10 minute cuddle after I had been left to sleep alone all night, she would be so happy and tell me to be thankful for any little expression of love or affection he gave me. I loved this woman and considered her a concerned friend.
As we sat together, I said this to her, “It’s a good thing I am so fat. If someone (a man) came up to me and said one nice thing…I think I could be in a lot of trouble.” She just smiled and patted my arm. Nothing to worry about right?…
More from Laura: