When she walked into the Counseling Room yesterday, I could see the discouragement and disappointment weighing heavy on her shoulders. Knowing how far she has come in recent months, I ached for her. Angie has been a pleasure to work with–a living, breathing miracle of God!
From our first Session, after listening to her story I told her, “Perspective is everything . . . you need to draw closer to God.” I introduced Journey Notes Praise Journaling to help her but, still reeling from a recent divorce and a lifetime of hurt and rejection, the suggestion of journaling held no appeal for her. Angie tried to resist but in the end she agreed to try–it was a last resort:“I am so not a writer . . . I believe in God . . . that Jesus was who He said He was but . . . God never has had much to say to me.”
Even so, she started to write. It was awkward . . . coming up with three praises to God “was like pulling teeth.” The first week she wrote one entry and reported, “I’m not sure if I am doing it right, my writing goes all over the place . . . it makes no sense.”Still, she continued to write . . . one more week, then the next . . . and has kept it up until now.
In the weeks between “then” and “now” a light dawned in her mind and heart that became visible in her eyes as the tension left her face. Angie discovered that God has much to say to her . . . HOPE was rekindled and LIFE burned brightly in her countenance. The evidence of God’s faithfulness became a reality for all to see:“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:2
As a result, Angie came to love doing her Journey Notes; the coffee-splattered pages of her notebook began to fill with the miracle of a conversation between her and her Maker. As she interfaced with God through her Journey Notes, Angie started to look at herself and at “life” from God’s point of view–rightly concluding, “Perspective is everything!”
Yesterday, Angie reported she had had a “rough week.” She talked about how seeing her ex-husband twice during the week had brought back old memories of his abuse. Angie mentioned a broad shelf of books she read over twenty years while trying to save their marriage. But, despite her efforts, her husband continually made it plain that he did not love her and did everything he could to get her to leave. In desperation she finally did leave, but always with the hope that they would get the help they needed to save their marriage. Instead, he filed the papers to obtain a divorce and it was a done deal. Angie admitted that it was hard to see, that even now, he took no responsibility for the demise of their marriage– placing the blame fully on her. The question that pounded in her mind and heart: “Why didn’t God save our marriage?!!!”Isn’t it interesting how, when we are overwhelmed by life’s challenges and disappointments, our initial response is often to blame God–I have done it and I trust you have too?
The problem we have when we begin to doubt God’s goodness, is that we close ourselves off to the One who knows us and can best help us. When we do that, our perceptions darken and we lose hope. Isaiah 30:15-18 offers a prescription to address our tendency to run from God: “In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength . . .” as it also encourages us to turn back to Him:” . . . the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!
To help Angie stop being run by her feelings, we opened the One Book that has carried and changed her these many months– Ephesians 5:21-33 says in part,Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . . . In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies . . . each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
I reminded her . . . “Perspective is everything!” As we reflected on all Angie saw and felt during the previous week, we began to see God’s faithfulness emerge from where the darkness sought to overtake her. We thanked God for His mercy and love in providing for her needs and for His plan and purposes for her life. To help Angie avoid another hard fall we talked about the following:
- Her husband has no power to “make” her carry the blame she felt heaped upon her; better to give it to God with thanksgiving and in faith.
- Rather than fall into the trap of doubting God’s goodness, resolve to run to Him–assuming the best of God as Creator and King.
It takes two to make a marriage and two to break it apart. It is right to mourn the demise of her marriage–to continue to pray for conviction and repentance on both sides; for healing and eventual reconciliation for their entire family.
- In Matthew 19:8 Jesus said divorce was permitted because of the hardness of men’s hearts. I encouraged Angie to give thanks to God for His mercy in bringing her out of an abusive marriage; for protecting and watching over her as He has faithfully done.
- Continue interfacing with God through the Journey Notes process to help stay on track. (Angie admitted that in the previous week she avoided reading her Bible and suffered the consequences of it–No Peace!)
Are you facing an unexpected challenge that you never expected to face? Whatever it is, large or small, God is worthy of your trust. Truly . . . Perspective is Everything!So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18
All to His Glory!
Thanks, Kathie. I have a friend who is struggling to journal. After reading this I realize I need to encourage her more to keep on trying. Love you, friend!
Tell your friend to keep going! So often in life the harder things seem initially, the greater the reward in the end.