Tonight Martha shared this testimony at the Biblical Counseling Conference. It was powerful!
One year ago my parents were attending this conference hearing testimonies about God changing people’s lives. I was at home planning how to die. No one would have guessed that I was planning to check out of life. I was an A average student in the Nursing program at a local college, I had friends, family, health, a job supposedly everything you need to be happy. Monday night of the conference my parents received a phone call saying I was writing suicide notes. For the second time in one month the police were called and came to our home to see if I was ok. A little while later my pastor and his wife showed up and forced me to spend the night at their home. My parents flew back to Virginia the next morning and gave me the startling choice between applying to Vision of Hope or checking into a psychiatric ward. I know nothing about Vision of Hope but knew it was better than a psyche ward. Believe me if you ever have that choice you’ll pick a residential treatment center.
My path to despair is both universal and unique. Simply put I could no longer endure the deep depression that had filled my life for 5 years. Five years of counsel, prayer, striving, searching and wishing left me at the same place of sinking sand and … God had abandoned me to darkness and I was no longer going to be a victim of God’s cruelty. If God wasn’t going to rescue me and make me happy then I would escape the pain and despair that were a crushing daily reality. I wasn’t going to stand around and be in pain for no purpose.
How amazing that one year later I am standing here giving a testimony of what God has done in my life, the life I was determined to not live.
God’s Word has changed my life. Being counseled from Scripture by people committed to living out what they teach has literally saved my life.
There are 5 main concepts I have learned from counseling that provided a foundation to the changes I am now implementing.
• What it means to glorify God –I knew man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever; as Pastor Viars would say blah, blah, blah. I had no practical steps or Scriptural basis to use this in my life. The Biblical counseling I have received made it clear that glorifying God is not a drudgery in life, it is what gives my life meaning every single day.
• Consequences—I thought I was a helpless victim of sad feelings that would forever be a part of my life. Through intense study of Scripture it became obvious that the depression I was experiencing was actually the fruit of my own wrong choices and idol worship.
• Playing God – I had a highly developed system for appeasing God and telling Him what to do. When life didn’t follow the lines I thought it should, I nose-dived into angrily blaming God, and wallowing in feelings of self-pity. Realizing I am under the rule of a good God who will work everything together for my good, not my happiness, frees me from fear and despair.
• Through Biblical counseling I came to see the things that I put before God. Difficulties in life were a direct attack on my safety, comfort, and ability to control. I wanted those things more than I wanted to be like Christ.
• An Eating disorder was not on the list of presentation problems when counseling began. Looking at my life through the lens of Scripture has made me realized how out of balance my thinking has been. I have lived as a bulimic in almost every area of my life, binging on control, food, school, relationships, and activities. I would invest everything into an area of life until I became worn out and then I would quit and swing to the other extreme of complete disinterest. What a joy to learn that life has many aspects and following God means having a balanced view of each area of life. A proper perspective of eternity makes everyday life both meaningful and manageable.
• I had grown up in Christianity, done Christianity, and spoken Christianity, and yet developed a completely skewed perception of God. One day while doing counseling homework, I was stunned to realize God didn’t need me. How shocking. The God of the universe not needing or even wanting my opinion on how He should rule my life. As foolish as it sounds I had lived presuming God was in my debt and answerable to me for His decisions. Relief and rest have filled my life as I have given God the heavy weight of being God. I no longer need to control or manipulate life; it is in the hands of a perfectly good, completely powerful, and totally wise God.
One year ago my consuming goal was to be dead. Today my consuming goal is to live for Christ as a young woman who glorifies her God. How is that even possible? Those changes only happen after years of therapy, months of medication, and intensive self interest, or so Satan would have you believe. However, I am here to tell you nothing is more powerful than the Holy Spirit using His Sword in a person’s life. I have been amazed, stunned, awestruck as I’ve discovered the reality that my God is so big He doesn’t need the world to fix His people’s problems. He is so awesome and capable that there are no problems too big for Him. He is so wise that will never be a situation in my life where the only option is to sin. He is completely sovereign; there is no circumstance in my life unplanned or wasted.
Surprise, surprise I am actually attending this conference. I am coming here because my life has been transformed by the beauty of biblical truth. I have reaped the benefits of someone taking time out of their life, ministry, family, work to learn how God intends for our lives to function as followers of Him.
As you learn how to counsel from a Scriptural basis please remember that this is not about knowing more Bible verses, or sticking God’s name on the world’s ideas of how to handle life. Please believe that God is not into quick or easy answers; I am going into my 8th month of counseling. Real problems require real answers. Life dominating sins do not disappear overnight simply a person wishes to change. Please believe me this is a battle for people’s lives; the answers you give to hurting people are a matter of life and death. God’s Word is life.
Deuteronomy 32: 46-47 say “Take to heart all the words with which I am warning you today…for it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life.