Yep, I’m Going to Counseling

Brightness by Holley Gerth

I lean forward on the comfy couch and share what’s been going on in my heart with my counselor. She nods and listens carefully. She takes notes and asks insightful questions. “You’ve had a lot of change in your life over the last few years, haven’t you?” “Yes,” I respond, “Some parts are really wonderful…and some are really hard. And I need help.”

Years ago I wouldn’t have been able to admit that so freely. But now I know this: asking for help is not a sign of weakness…it’s a sign of true strength. It’s much easier to hide than to face our struggles. It’s much safer to say “I’m fine” than to share “I’m having a hard day.” It’s much simpler to think, “Oh, that will go away with time” than to wrestle through to the truth that will set us free.

I will never try to convince you I have it all together because I don’t. And if you think I do, it’s time you dropped that illusion like a hot potato. I’m an ordinary girl with an extraordinary God. I’m a beautiful mess. I’m an imperfect-in progress person just like you. And know what? I’m not crazy. But I do serve a God who is crazy about me. I will never fully understand that this side of heaven but I’m thankful every single day that’s true–especially when I’m sitting on the counseling couch.

Sometimes it’s through the cracks in our hearts that God’s love shines through the brightest. No one needs to see you gritting your teeth and trying to hold it together. You might just be shutting in the light God wants to come bursting forth from your brokenness.

Let’s be brave, together, sisters. Brave enough to say, “It’s time I went to counseling” {you can find a counselor near you at www.ecounseling.com}. Or you can tell a dear friend or talk to your pastor. And if you’re not sure who you should ask to help you yet, ask God to send someone to you {it’s not me–you need someone in your face-to-face life, okay?}.

Here’s the dealio: When I refuse to ask for help it can feel super spiritual but it’s really just pride and fear. Yep. And those two aren’t taking anyone anywhere worth going. So tell them “Get outta here” and grab the hand of someone who loves you instead. Only you can take responsibility for your life, your hurts and your growth. We can do this with Jesus and each other, girl.

By the time I get up off the comfy couch my heart feels lighter. I let out a big sigh of relief. Whew.

And I know two things for sure: I’m moving forward…and I’ll be back.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

Comments

  1. says

    It is past time to talk about counseling in the light. It has driven me crazy for years that it is embarrassing for Christian women to admit they are going to counseling. I have seen way to many people refuse to go because they feel shame about needing someone else. We all need help. We all need a safe place to share. I think everyone could use a good round of professional counseling. The year and a half I saw a counselor radically transformed my heart, my views on my past, and my current ability to connect with others. To anyone considering going, I highly recommend it!

  2. says

    I’ve been in counseling before too. As a Pastor. We’re all broken, and Jesus wants to help us put the pieces back together, but we have to endure exposure of our pain to deal with it in a healthy way. Thanks for your courage!!

  3. says

    Dear Holley … As a pastoral counselor for women, all I can say is thank you. Thank you for being honest with us, your readers. Thank you for saying that talking with someone can be a very good thing. Thank you for taking the mystery and fear out of the whole issue of counseling.

    I love my clients. They are courageous, they are in it for the long haul, they let God begin to bind up the wounded places. They become empowered. They begin to be God-pleasers instead of people-pleasers. They learn how to set boundaries and gather healthy people around them. They start to make decisions based on love, not fear or anxiety.

    They are simply fabulous. And I’m honored to walk alongside with them. I learn much at their feet.

    Blessings …

  4. Angie says

    Dear Holley,
    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been feeling some shame about having to see a counselor , feeling like I should be stronger and more together than I feel at times. Its helpful to see you doing your thing and getting help too. I just changed counselors and its been good so far. I am in this place where I am not sure where I am it; it feels like a world wind, but to remember that God is here too and to know it’s going to be okay  – and its good to get help, is so helpful to my soul. Thanks for sharing Holley, thanks for your blog, someday I might do a blog too – I am a songwriter (well one of the things I’ve done well and enjoyed) – God bless you and your family.
    Sincerely,
    Angie

  5. says

    Thank you for this reminder, Holley! I often forget that I don’t have to put on a mask and “fool” everyone that everything is just fine in my life when it isn’t. I saw a dietitian, who was more like a therapist than a dietitian for me. We hardly ever talked about food stuff, but frequently talked about how to deal with life, and I need to get back on a regular schedule with her. I appreciate this post so much!

  6. says

    Dear Holly,
    Ditto to everything Linda@creekside said!
    As a pastoral counselor for victims of DV and trauma, the majority of the women I serve and minister to are Christian women seeking healing and wholeness outside of church because it is not the accepted ‘norm’ to confess to be Christian and still need counseling.

    And like Linda, I feel these women are a bunch of radical brave and courageous women who become healthy and whole. Many of them turn around and become healers to those around them…simply beautiful beyond words.

  7. Isabel says

    Beautiful post, Holly!

    I’m glad that you are sharing that it is ok to seek help from a therapist or counselor. Often in churches, this is a taboo subject, but it is encouraging to see that more and more people are sharing that it is ok to speak to someone about the issues of the heart and soul. Kudos to you for sharing your journey with others and I hope that others will follow suit. And no, it doesn’t make God less powerful, or a person less spiritual, it just makes us more human, and that’s ok, because
    God created us as such!

  8. Marilyn says

    There is such a closeness to the Lord in those times of weakness– a ceasing to fix yourself or figure things out or make this better because you know you really can’t. It really is such freedom to hear someone say, ‘Yes, you have had a lot of losses in your life lately,” and to lay down your guard, accepting the help that is offered. You have encouraged so many–how could you do it if you hadn’t shared the help you have received yourself from the Lord and wise counselors in His name? Bless you as you draw more from Him…

  9. says

    Oh, Holly this is JUST the kick in the pants I needed!! I went to counseling for a while after God gave me 4 kids in 4 and a 1/2 years… Now that they are 6, 7, 9 and 10 I think I shouldn’t need it anymore… But I had a friend recently tell me I should call my counselor again, even if it has been 4 years. My husband even mentioned it this morning after a paticularly ugly breakdown this weekend.

    Calling now!!

  10. says

    I love EVERYTHING about this post, Holley! Good for you to get on the other side of the couch too!!
    I’m never amazed at how God brings others into our lives to act as “counselor” – whether we choose to enter into counseling, or our pastor speaks perfect words from the pulpit, or a friend grabs our hand and prays for us, or a random blogger posts about it online.
    YES!! We all need someone to debrief life with!! I’m willing to bet that counselor’s phones are ringing off the hook today, thanks to you!! ;)

  11. Babs C. says

    Holley, your post offered me a much needed {{hug}} this morning! Today I awoke with the type of headache that only comes from gritting my teeth all night. I’ve been so grateful that it’d been months since this happened. It feels horrible and does not easily subside. “No one needs to see you gritting your teeth and trying to hold it together.” Immediately captured my attention. I actually LOL’d and smiled over how God connects lives to encourage growth.

    I recognize the pain in my head, eyes, neck and shoulders that results from gritting my teeth overnight is my body/soul’s way of cluing me in that I’m trying to do something on my own and not leaving cares at the feet of God. Or maybe just holding onto something I need to let go of and move forward. I’ll likely be talking to my own counselor about this soon!

    Thank you for your transparent sharing. I love that you also clearly model healthy boundaries to guide readers to counselors in their area.

  12. Krysta says

    I went to a Christian counsellor for 6 months to help get past years of wrong thinking about myself. As a young teen I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and it almost ruined my life. Counncelling and Gods light help me heal. My husband and I have also gone together and are experiencing healing and restoration in our marriage. Thank you, Holley for being so open. Keep at it! I don! T always comment by your God inspired words never fail to reach my heart and help propel me forward. You’re awesome!

  13. says

    Thank you SO MUCH, Holley, for this honest post. I am another “imperfect-in progress person.” It keeps crossing my mind lately that I should get back to my counselor, but I just don’t do it. You gave me the nudge I need, and I just emailed her to make an appointment. I keep telling myself I just need to work on a closer relationship with Jesus and I’ll get rid of this depression and vulnerability that ebbs and flows more often ever since I am trying to write more “real” and get more connected with the online community. Praying for you, Holley.

  14. says

    Loved the line: “I’m a beautiful mess!” How perfect is that sentiment for describing our fallen nature, seen through the eyes of our gracious God? Thank you, Holley. I’m smiling for the joy of those four simple words!

  15. Sue Scadden says

    Thank you so much for this wonderfully honest post. It was exactly what I needed to hear today since I am starting with a new counselor tomorrow. The stigma is something I face, however, I am determined to get past it and get the help I need regardless of what anyone else thinks. Your writing has been a God-Send in my life. Thank you for allowing God to use you. Blessings, Sue

  16. says

    Yay, Holley! My hubby and I have recently started meeting with a Christian counselor, and it has been super helpful to us after 3 years of care giving for sick loved ones. Our counslelor is giving us permission to say no to the right things, to re-group in this new season, and to be intentional about making choices that will renew our spirits.

    I give this post and you a big two thumbs up. :)

  17. says

    Over the years, I’ve been blessed at different times with three wonderful counselors, one non-Christian but supportive of my faith and two Christians. I learned about boundaries, how to set them, maintain them, and defend them. What I loved most was that I knew they were on my side. Even so, they were able to see the bigger picture. They reassured me when I was headed in a healthy direction and kindly corrected me when I wasn’t. It was hard work and painful, and I don’t regret a single moment. I bless them to this day for helping me strengthen my relationship with God because I learned about truth and honor. God bless.

  18. Petra says

    Thank you Holley, yep, I need to go to counselling too and have been making excuses not to go, thanks for the nudge xxx

  19. Becky says

    Thank you Holley for affirming that it’s okay to see a counselor. I have a counselor I’ve seen for about 14 years now. I don’t visit regularly, but I always know she’s a phone call away if I need her.I have to say that to me what made all the difference is that she is a Christian counselor. When I was going through a horrible, horrible time in my life, I saw her as much as three times a week. Many times, I would call her and ask her if she would pray before our visit, and she always did. She is my safety net, and I don’t think that makes me rely on God less. She truly is a gift from God. Thank you for giving folks permission to not be trying to hold it all together when inside is coming apart. God bless you, Holley. I just sent a note to my counselor along with your blog.

  20. Lorraine says

    Thank you Holley!
    Thank you for your honesty and love for people.
    I LOVE YOUR BLOG. Somedays your words are what get me through the day!

  21. Mary says

    Thank you for being honest. I love the fact that God can use us in our brokenness, that He uses cracked pots to let His light shine out. We are told so often we must be perfect, if we have a problem we are somehow flawed and unuseable by God. Thank you for showing us through your life that we can be used, even when we are struggling. Prayers!

  22. Anonymous says

    I read this blog today as tears streamed down my face. Thank you. Thank you for being vulnerable. I so needed this encouragement today. I just started with a counselor this past week to begin to work on some trauma that I’ve experienced as an adoptive parent to a child who has reactive attachment disorder. It has been a 3 1/2 year nightmare and my whole focus has been on her and helping her heal and become healthy…..only now am I beginning counseling, after realizing just how depleted I am. But, I have felt so guilty, so weak….for needing help. Today was a low point in just feeling like a failure to ‘need’ help. Then, I read your blog and cried. I knew it was encouragement straight from the heart of God. Thank you.

    • Fiona Lytle says

      Dear Anonymous … i have had similar problems as an adoptive parent.Without God and several courses of counselling & antidepressantsI dont know how I would have coped. I naively used to think that lots of love and time would make up for what my daughters lacked due to their pre adoptive placements .. but with attachment disorder etc too much emphasis is put on the needs of the child whilst the needs of the adoptive parents go unmet for years. If you would like to correspond with me via email you would be very welcome. My girls are now aged 11 & 18.

      • Anonymous says

        Thank you, Fiona. I would love to correspond with you. Please let me know how to email you. Thank you.

      • Anonymous says

        Thank you so much Holley!! I really appreciate you sharing this with me! :) I was also really excited that your book, “You’re going to be Okay” came in the mail today! I have loved your blog and look forward to reading this! :)

  23. says

    Most of us will go to great lengths to help a pet, a child, a friend, even a stranger yet we won’t take the brave step to get help for ourselves. Light shining through the broken cracks. How beautiful.

  24. Karen says

    Holley, I wish you were here beside me so I could give you a big, fat, squishy hug. I’ve been to counseling more than once than once and it helped me enormously. I needed to realize that I can’t always handle my problems alone; I needed help and I desperately needed to reconnect with Jesus. He said “Where the heck have you been,girl”? “I’ve been waiting for you to wake up and turn your burdens over to me.”Love you, Holley !!!
    Karen

  25. says

    Holley,
    Your brave, honest, transparent words are such joy and comfort to me today.
    Thank you for keeping it real and for offering the hope you do!

  26. Naomi says

    Thanks so much, Holley, for sharing this! I agree 100% with what you have shared and it encourages my heart! I, too, have gone for more counseling just recently and I am ever SO GLAD I did!!!!! God did wonderful and amazing things in my heart! Bless you for being so honest and vulnerable! I HATE the stigma and shame that is attached to needing counseling….is this the enemie’s way to keep us from becoming free????! Bless you, my friend!
    Naomi

  27. says

    Oh, this is such a “needed” post! I began seeing a Christian counselor last fall and he has walked me through the deepest valley of my life. I am now on an “as needed” basis and I will not hesitate to return should the need arise. Just as you said, it is such a sign of strength for someone to admit their need and then to do something about it. God is the greatest counselor but HE has placed his servants here to be His feet and hands here on earth and to be used of Him in our lives. Blessings abundant to you!

  28. Edwina Cowgill says

    Holley,
    Thank you for today’s post. It confirmed what God has been telling me for the last couple of weeks – go get counseling! My situation is that I am a Christian Counselor so I feel like I shouldn’t need counseling. You know, the “Physician, heal thyself” mentality. Well, counselors need counseling sometimes and now is the time for me. So thanks for being courageous and posting today’s blog.

    Blessings,
    Edwina

  29. Holley says

    Thank you so much for your encouraging, supportive words here, friends! As you can imagine, this was kind’ve a scary post to write. And you are always so wonderful about hugging my heart just when I need it. :) XOXO

  30. Dana says

    Holley,
    You are awesome! Thank you for your bravery and your transparency, thank you for your constant encouragement, thank you for being you! XOXO to you too:)!

  31. Margie Lowrey says

    That was me in the mid ’90′s until I reached out to our assistant pastor. He knew right away as soon as I walked up to him and asked if I could talk with him that I needed help. He directed me to a wonderful Christian counselor who was a part of my life for many years until God called her into church ministry. She helped me grow so much and reassured me that reaching out for help in counseling is not a sign of weakness; rather it is a sign of strength that we are recognizing a need within that God wants us to allow someone else to help us along with. In denying our need to seek out help, we may be depriving someone else of the opportunity to grow in helping us. It was a humbling moment, but I would not have missed it for the world. Since that time it has been my joy to be used of the Lord in helping others with similar struggles.

  32. Martha Houghton says

    Holley,
    Good for you! I found you when I was looking for encouragement and a counselor. My counselor along with your kind heart and encouragement helped me through a hard time. So, I’m glad to have the chance to say that everything is going to work out in time. For the moment, relax on the couch, rest in His love, and look forward to the plans He has for you. I’m thankful for your strength and openness in this trial. You will be stronger at the end of your journey. I can vouch for that.

  33. Lori Miller Woods says

    Bless you sweet, honest, brave girl! You set a lot of people’s hearts free today.
    Sending love and prayers with thanks for how you build up the women of God, by encouraging us all in our walk. And always telling the truth.

  34. Nazila says

    Holley, thanks for your honest post. I believe it was a sign from God for me to confirm my latest decision to see a counsellor (which is scheduled tomorrow).

    How beautifully you said that we don’t have to suffer alone in silence. Heavenly father wants us happy children and nothing is wrong with seeking help from the caring counsellors to recover from pains and hurts.

    Love you sooooooo much. You are in my prayers sweet sister :)

  35. Dori Stone says

    Hi Holly, I’ve never met you but wanted you to know that I love you and I’m very proud of you for standing up and sharing your struggles. Best of luck, hugs and thank you, Love, Dori

  36. sowjanya says

    I really loved your post and the line:asking for help is not a sign of weakness…it’s a sign of true strength really hit me hard. We women need to realize this and accept the truth so that god can help us through it. Thank you for sharing your life stories and also struggles because it means we are all like that only. A big hug for your words.

  37. Dona says

    thank you so much Holley for writing this post. I went through 16 months of couselling and I am so glad I did.Depression is a tough road to walk alone. you cannot recover without help. I hope that anyone who finds themselves facing any type of emotional struggle will get the help they need. We are all sisters in Christ and we are here on Holley’s website to support one another. I know I have found comfort many times reading her blog. peace and hope to all.♥

  38. Sandy says

    I have a friend whom I meet with once a month over lunch and we just talk. She’s old enough to be my mom.We talk about life and churchy stuff. She brings a new life into my world and attitude. She introduced me to the Christian church about 20yrs ago. She has been a true blessing in my life. I thought about going to a professional counselor, but just haven’t done it yet. My friend is a wonderful listener and sheds new life on some life situations.

  39. says

    I am SO for counseling. For little things, for big things. Why do it alone when there are people around who can lighten the load a bit or give very valuable insides. I have never made a secret of getting help, nothing to be ashamed of. And let me tell you, I am not even ashamed of saying I have had therapy for probably over 15 years. I have learned to look at therapy as: just being curious about yourself. At times that view really helps.

  40. says

    I have been to counseling several times over the decades of my life. Most of the time I was blessed with a good counselor – occasionally not so. But, during those periods of letting out the pain, or discovering where the pain was coming from I grew the most. And I definitely agree that it is the strong that go to counseling not the weak. The weak are the ones that bury the pain and are afraid to share it. The strong go forward no matter the pain so they can come out to the freedom on the other side.

  41. says

    I am grateful for seasons. The weather seasons, the semester season and my personal seasons. I have seen many, many of which were dark. Seasons of perseverance, seasons of grieving, seasons of crying, seasons of survival. And now… now I see God bringing me into a season of pure joy. And I am actually needing to learn about joy, I’ve not had much good in my life that this season is a gift but hard to embrace. So I’ll stick in this season for a bit ;-)

  42. Lina says

    Dear sweet, wonderful Holley,

    I feel so much better knowing you are going to counseling! Good for you! We all need some extra help sometimes. I did YEARS of counseling when my kids were small and now we go to a support group twice a month to help my husband (& me) cope with bi-polar disorder. I have amazing friends and a real get down on my knees faith that continues to help me get by each messy crazy day.

    Thanks for always have the courage to be real with us on your blog!

    You Go Girl!!
    Lina

  43. says

    Kudos to you, Holley, for seeking counseling. I have found it to be an incredibly helpful tool for staying mentally healthy. I pray it provides you with many benefits!

  44. Denise says

    I have recently been more depressed and having anxiety attacks and last week I finally saw a Psychiatrist who changed my meds and has recommended counseling for me. I am not sure why the depression has become so worse, but I need to find out. I have been praying and talking to friends at church and it is helping, but I do think I need to see a therapist and your post is just what I needed to reinforce my thinking. My Depression has become over whelming and the anxiety attacks are totally new. They are to the point where I have had to stop working because I can’t leave the house alone and even when I am with someone…..I am shaky and nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs as my Grandmom used to say. Thank you for your Blog. I have followed you for over a year now and your writings and posts have gotten me thru some really hard times. It is like you know me. I Thank GOD for you and the words you share. You are a blessing and Inspiration to many………never doubt that.

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