As a Mental Health Counselor and a Pastor, I often take for granted just how closely our emotional stability is connected to our spiritual strength.
While on the 45 minute drive to our Hattiesburg office, as I do every Tuesday, usually I pray for and think about the appointments I have coming in, but today was different. As I was driving, I just felt completely inadequate and began praying that God would allow me to be effective.
A little back story: For some time now I have been struggling with joint and back pain associated with physical injuries when I was younger, arthritis, older age, and let’s face it, I am fat! The pain has been a great distraction for the past few days, preaching was difficult Sunday, I saw my physician Monday morning for a round of shots and blood work, the medications make me feel less than adequate and focused at work, and the week is loaded with clients that want and need me clear enough to help with their distractions.
My first session was a patient whom was on the verge of hospitalization last week. To my surprise the crisis was over. He actually used the coping skills we talked about, and spent a good portion of the session in awe of how he was able to reduce his crippling anxiety to a manageable state. The session concluded with both of us feeling good about his goals and plans.
My next session was late, as usual, and when she came in the door her words were “I need to rant”; this was going to be a fun session! Actually it was. She ranted for about 5 minutes or so then settled down and we began to work on some of the issues that caused her to rant and the lingering problems she has been dealing with. She has struggled with interpersonal relationships, dealing with her mom, being able to connect to her dad, defining her relationship with her step-mom, setting healthy boundaries with her boyfriend, and ultimately breaking up with him because she realized she was the one carrying the relationship. As we worked on her intrapersonal relationships, God began to move the session toward her relationship with Him. She began to talk about how active she is in her church, has gone on overseas missions, works with the children, attends a Bible study, checks off all the boxes so to speak. As we talked, she processed how she treated her relationship with God like all her other relationships, with doubt, fear of being let down, scared that it wasn’t real. We moved into her salvation story and how she got baptized because her friends were being baptized. Then she said, “I know who God is, I know what He has done, but I’ve never committed myself to Him.” As we continued to talk it became more obvious to both of us that she had admitted who God is, acknowledged that she herself is a sinner, but never committed to repenting, never fully trusted God’s grace and mercy, and allowed fear and doubt to control her relationship with God. At the end of the session, I knelt down my fat, arthritic body next to hers as she confessed to and prayed for God to remove the distractions from her life and committed her life to His will. Homework for next session: celebrate with family, with church, and prepare to be obedient through Baptism.
Lesson for the day: Me + obedience = God is effective.
Darren Dickens, LPC
1515 Parker Drive Laurel, MS
7171 Highway 98 West Hattiesburg, MS