This past week a client of mine had an amazing breakthrough. As she was sharing her week she start talking about her life of faith. In all of our meetings she shared most of her pains and childhood traumas. But this week she must have had an amazing quiet time or God just intervened in to her life. She said something very important which I thought was blog worthy. She said, “I always believed that God exists. But I never felt that He is alive. This week he seemed alive to me.” That is a tremendous statement. Then I asked her, “Do you believe and feel that God truly loves you?” Then she answered after a short pause, “I can’t say for sure at the moment. I don’t really “feel” his love but I know that He is alive and speaking to me and healing me.” She was honest and she was aware of the reality of God beyond just his existence.
So what is her background? She is from the farm country of South Korea. She grew up in a farm and attended a church during the times when there weren’t that many churches around. The church which she and her family attended was small and cozy enough to know one another. Her parents were abusive. And so were her grand parents. All the children grew up fearing the parents. But she is the youngest child that wanted to appease everyone. So whatever her parents and her sisters wanted her to do, she did it. She was even attentive to the needs of everyone in her village. Everyone knew her as the good girl at the green roof top house down the block. This kind of good girl expectation followed her to the church and eventually to her adult life. When she got a job her boss gave her tons of work to do because she was the “good girl employee.” That reputation got her promoted and all she knew how to be was a “good girl” which got her more money and approval.
Fast forward to her own family life she also tried to be a good mother and a good wife. However, it backfired on her. When she attempted to please her family they were not pleased. Why? Because there was nothing to earn. She earned her affection and reputation growing up as the good girl but she couldn’t earn affection and love from her husband and children. She didn’t realize that she had to nurture her children, not please them. She was confused because she didn’t know the difference between loving and nurturing her children and pleasing them to earn affection. Children grew up confused and kept distancing themselves from her and she was hurt.
As she’s been going through counseling (life coaching) her emotions start stabilizing. This was possible because the cognitive side of her brain had more control of her emotional side. In another words, her rational side did not follow her emotion which created a false narrative. But her rational side had control over her emotion which led her emotions to allow to feel what she should feel, based on facts not her assumptions (I mentioned this in last week’s blog). So what does all this have to do with Christian counseling and knowing God?
Have you ever been angry at God before? I certainly did. When I was in high school I blamed God for all my pains, troubles, being poor, losing my father and my brother, and for my angry mother. The emotions that I was feeling created this narrative that God is not reliable and that he is just some deity who is using humans as puppets for his wicked pleasure. But as I matured in my faith and through much Christian counseling I began to believe what the Bible said about Him and about me. Something happened to me that happened to my client. As my emotions of past pain was constantly in check and healing from the past I began to realize God’s love and and that He is indeed alive in my life. I believed that God sent his Son to save me because he loves me. In another words, this truth is not new, it’s just become profound enough to change my view of God. The truth is the same. Jesus died for me is a children’s Sunday School truth we’ve all learned. But when that truth comes alive as my emotions heal, I believed and even felt God’s love in random moments of meditation and prayer.
So how does this work? First, knowledge of God is just an information for a soul that is damaged. It is hard to believe that God loves me and that he cares for me. A damaged soul will not trust ANY kind of love. Therefore Bible is irrelevant along with all its claims. So why did my client attend church all her life, never miss morning prayer, serve all the time and why did I serve in church all my life? It has nothing to do with the Gospel, although the seed was planted. It had more to do with moralism and being “good enough” to be “loved enough.” Both my client and I grew up thinking only good people are loved. You grow from believing that God exists, then as you heal you begin to believe that God lives and finally you start trusting in God’s love and believe that He truly loves you. The progression is… God exists (untrusting faith) – God lives (encountering faith) – God loves (fully trusting faith).
Do you want to know how it feels to be loved by God? If you think you are loved because you are good then you really haven’t tasted God’s love. Do you know why? Because God loves sinners. That means that God is professional at loving us when we hate ourselves the most, when we are angry with God the most, when we are most unacceptable, when we are so far from him. When we are utterly broken He loves us the most. That is what Jesus did best. He counseled, listened, embraced, loved and advocated the woman at the well, the leper, the tax collector, you and me. I am not a good person by any standard. I am sometimes not very moral. But Christ has shown me immeasurable love when my sins were utterly evil down to the core. But to that core Jesus reached in and loved the broken Ben that I was.
The reason why I’m a Christian counselor and not a secular therapist are two factors. First is that Christian counseling is compassion based. I don’t use “techniques” as do therapists. I listen with compassion and convey loving ears. I’m not saying that all therapists are not compassionate. Some are and I’ve experienced them. But the basis for Christian counseling is compassion. The second factor is truth. You can’t change anyone with something that is not true. Only “truth can set you free.” The truth comes from the Bible and my client’s realization was simply a fruit bearing of the gospel that was planted in her. That is the reason why I’m a pastoral counselor. This week’s blog may sound more preachy than the usual mental health stuff. But I make myself clear that I am a pastor and a counselor because my job is not only to help people heal. The more important job is for me to help people heal and truly be loved by God. The ultimate goal is to restore our relationship with the heavenly Father. God bless all of you this week and experience this great love of God.