Over the past couple of years, Starbucks has become a place where I often meet with women to talk about the hard things in life. I remember one morning sitting with a friend, both of us cupping our coffee as if it was a microphone and she began to share her story with me. Her tears fell fast and her emotions poured out through her words even faster. She went on to explain that she had read all the marriage books and blogs she could find. She was attending church more than ever. But even after doing everything she knew to do she still felt far from God and even further in her relationship with her husband.
I remember her asking me, “What’s next? What am I missing? How were you and Justin able to make your relationship work after years of living in a dysfunctional marriage?”
I knew my response was going to sound “churchy” but in my heart and mind I knew there was nothing churchy about what I wanted to say. I was eager to tell her the lifesaving wisdom someone shared with me when I was drowning in hopelessness, exhaustion and despair.
I replied, “I would not be married today if I hadn’t sought wise counsel.” I could tell by the look on her face that she was a bit disappointed at such a vague response. But I went on to explain the power that very sentence had in not only restoring my marriage but also continues to shape me into the person I am today.
Seeking wise counsel played out in three distinct ways for me.
1. I was seeking wise counsel by reading the bible in a translation I could understand.
2. I was seeking wise counsel from other women and couples that had gone through similar situations and found hope and restoration.
3. I was seeking wise counsel from a professional counselor.
I know your thinking that IS a “churchy” response and I couldn’t agree more. What may sound like the typical response to the average person becomes healing balm to a desperate and wounded soul. There are times in life where you will choose all the right things you know to do and when that list comes up short you will be tempted to quit.
When I begged Justin to go to counseling early on in our marriage and he refused I just gave up. I leaned on my own understanding and not the wise counsel of others. I choose to stay hidden along with Justin and as he buried his sin I started to create sin of my own. I convinced myself that counseling would only be affective if Justin and I BOTH went to together so when he refused to go so did I.
Proverbs 19:20-21 (NLT)
20 Get all the advice and instruction you can,
so you will be wise the rest of your life.
21 You can make many plans,
but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.
I am often asked what should you do if your spouse refuses to go to counseling. My response to them and to you today is GO ANYWAY! All throughout scripture God leads His people to seek wise counsel. Even Jesus being fully God and fully man sought wise counsel from his heavenly Father in his time of desperation and heartache. Counseling wasn’t invented by Western culture nor is it set aside for only certain people to receive it. God calls us all to “Get all the advice and instruction you can” because he knew we would need it. We weren’t meant to figure out life on our own.
I do have a word of caution… Just because someone is a counselor it doesn’t mean they’re a good one. But please don’t let that be an excuse. If it takes you five tries, keep trying. I’m not saying you should find a counselor that will tell you what you want to hear but rather someone who understands and is able to lead you to a place of health. I know there ARE some amazing counselors out there because we had one! The bible doesn’t say seeking wise counsel would be easy or fun. In fact it will most-likely cause you pain. But it will be a redemptive pain rather than destructive pain.
Seeking wise counsel helps guide our pain into redemptive pain where God makes beauty from ashes.