You are more than your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
"You Are More" by Tenth Avenue North
I got into counseling for the same reason I've gotten into a lot of other things: to be the answers guy. For most of my life I’ve been underweight, or had an overbite, or undershot the basket. For most of my life I’ve felt lame. Or I’ve felt good about myself and grew in my pride. Let’s just say like any other sinner I’ve overdone the wrong things and underdone the right things. Which puts me right where everybody else lives. Having the answers was a way to sweep all that lameness under the rug. God likes pulling up rugs and shining the light. When God sent Christ to us it was to show us what was under the rug and take away what was brought to light.
The Gospel has come down to where we live. One wise translator paraphrased John 1:14 this way: "The Word became flesh and became a local. Heavenly glory had an address, a mom, a job, taxes, and a time of death."
God gets into the nitty-gritty details. Our struggle is trying to find how he fits. The type of counseling I’m trained in and practice (usually called biblical counseling) is looking for how we can walk together with people and see how the Gospel fits. The Gospel gives us a new narrative that is greater than what’s been done to us, or what we did, or what we feel. What God has done for us is just the beginning of what God wants to do inside of us. So really biblical counseling is a way of walking with someone through their story and then walking together through God’s story of redemption until there is hope for their story.
Now I see that wise love involves a lot more listening to both of the stories. Wise love walks with compassionate silence and wise words (mostly questions). I’m learning on the job when each are called for.
When I meet with people I am hopeful. Not because I’m a fortune teller, or have x-ray vision. I am hopeful because God knows people. He knows what derails us. He has planned the restoration of all things. His good news believed changes people. It changes deeply broken people. And while it’s still good news and people are still broken we can walk together and find hope. The middle of the story is ugly. The cross is ugly. My sin and yours is ugly. But that’s where God gets busy and does his “behold I make all things new” promise into reality. That’s why I’m a counselor.
This post is by Shawn Doud, the assistant pastor of Indelible Grace Church. You can also visit his counseling website GraceXchange.