Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bittersweet... Advent of Joy #6

Well, I did it.

I had my final appointment with Tricia.

I walked out of there with both of us agreeing that it was my last session, essentially.
Tricia said that if anything did happen in the next weeks, or next months, and I did need to see her, to not beat myself up or see it as a step backward. It would just be me admitting that I needed some help to get through something else.

As I was talking with my small group, before I went to counseling, my friend Donna talked about how much I have matured in this past year. Today in counseling, Tricia talked about how before when I came up against a problem I couldn’t focus on finding a solution because I was in too much pain. She said that now my pain is less, I feel better in general, and about myself, and now I am able to start problem solving.

She said that I am still going to find that I will struggle some to deal with everyday stressors that come up. She said I have the coping skills, I just need to remember to employ them (I will add here, healthy ones), and remember above all else that God loves me.

She reminded me that I am going to encounter problems and difficulties. It doesn’t mean that I can’t handle life, or that I am doing something wrong. It is part of this world. I told her about how I was encountering some struggles right now with trusting God in a specific area, and how to help myself, I was going to be writing these posts up until Christmas. I said that this past Monday was really hard, and I had found myself struggling with depression.

Tricia quoted to me the following verse… and as I looked up the word “mature,” later this evening, I came across the verse she gave to me, and knew I had to write about it.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4

The trials that I am going through right now are testing my faith. As I work through them, and through my trust issues with God, my faith is tested, refined, and purified. Each time I face trials and my faith is tested, I am forced to either persevere or give up. If I persevere, I grow stronger. I mature in my faith. My trust in God is strengthened. My faith is made stronger so that I have the courage to step out into something new with God. I might be scared, but through each new trial and struggle, I am being made more mature and complete… I WON’T LACK ANYTHING!!!

So, as each new thing comes up, I can choose to despair that I will ever be “done” with all this stuff. Or I can choose to believe that God has a purpose, and He is growing me, and completing the good work He has started. And I can find joy in that somehow. It may not be visible. I may still suffer grief, and it may still be hard, but I have to keep that eternal perspective that I talked about yesterday. He loves me and He fills me, He has given me new birth into a living hope, an inheritance that is kept in heaven for me. Through my faith (that is being matured….) I am shielded by God’s power.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
1 Peter 1:6-7

My faith is tested in the trials. I don’t have to like the trials, or be happy about them. I don’t have to put on the “happy face” for everyone. I can be real and honest and say “This is hard, I don’t like it, and it hurts.”

But hopefully, in the midst of the trials I will be able to have an eternal perspective, and know that I have been given so many incredible gifts by God. These trials are strengthening my faith, testing and refining it, and proving it genuine, and maturing and completing me.
Right now I have to say I have something else now to work through.

I knew it was going to be tough to say good-bye to Tricia. I am going to miss her. I will be praying for her, and I know we are still connected to each other in the body of Christ. But it is going to be different and hard to walk out from here now.

To me it is a loss. I am I guess grieving a relationship that had to be severed. I mean, it was a healthy ending, we had closure together, by reviewing some of the things I have written over the past year, and seeing where I have come from, and where I am now. The relationship had to end so that I can continue on and grow and mature on my own. As Tricia said, her time to come alongside of me has ended, that isn’t her role any more.

So I am grieving the loss of our relationship.

But at the same time I can see joy in it. Because if I was able to end my counseling relationship with her; without going into a panic attack, without making myself sick about it, without major emotional difficulties; I am getting better, am so much better than I was a year ago. I can take joy from the knowledge that God has healed me so much.

The pains, difficulties, trials, griefs, have been worth the healing, growth, maturity, completing work God has done in my life through them.

A bittersweet loss.
A bittersweet gain.

I don’t know that I ever understood the concept of something being bittersweet until now.


Mixed together in the same experience.

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