I'll never forget the lady that came to see me when I first started counseling. She was older, probably mid- to late- 60s. She had a kind face, and she was noticeably anxious about being in my office. What I really remember, though, was how I could hardly get through the intake process because she kept interrupting me with questions regarding confidentiality. "This is private, right? You can't tell anyone what we talk about?" I would reassure her of confidentiality and cover the exceptions to confidentiality over and over again. Her concern over privacy should have been my first clue that something heavy weighed on her.
Once I finished with the intake process, I gave the floor to her: "Tell me what brings you here today." Normally, clients can tell me in a few short sentences the reasons for their seeking help. But not this lady. This lady launched into a story, and my spirit quieted as I listened. It was a story of abuse and betrayal from her childhood, some 50 or so years earlier in her life, a story she had never told another soul. I have heard many tragic stories in my years as a counselor, a minister's wife, and a friend, but I can assure you that very few stories have shocked me like this woman's.
All those years she had carried guilt and shame from those childhood betrayals. All those years - a lifetime, really - she had played the game of life, acting as if everything was right, but all the while concealing painful events that should never have happened to an innocent child.
All. Those. Years.
We are wrapping up this series on betrayal and forgiveness. These are topics that will surface again, no doubt, on this blog and in our lives, as they are so intimately tied to the experience of being human. Today, though, I want to encourage you, dear reader, to consider how you have handled or will handle the betrayals of life. As we have seen, you cannot safeguard yourself from the way people will let you down. You can, however, choose to handle betrayals in a way that allows you to live as a genuine person.
This series is not meant to replace any type of human relationship that might allow you the ability to talk out your story and find healing. We have covered these topics in a brief manner, enough to encourage deep thought and to awaken a longing for healing. Perhaps it has been enough for you to search your heart and take these things before the Lord. But for many, it might be necessary to seek the help of others who are wise and godly. It might be necessary now to share your story, to open up and speak it out loud.
I think of that lady every now and then. She was so brave to finally open up and share the nightmares that had plagued her almost her entire life. She is a reminder that it is never too late to experience the healing that Christ can bring us. He is always ready to bestow grace and mercy upon His children.
That client is also a reminder, though, that we shouldn't wait until tomorrow to face what can be dealt with today. I think of all those years she languished in silence. All those years. We can't get the years back that we have already lived, and there is no purpose in regretting what has been. But we can claim the years to come, in Jesus' Name and for His glory. May we do so today, genuinely loved and changed in Christ.