Always Work to Improve

When I started this blog I had one goal that I wanted to stick to: stay transparent. And I believe I’ve done a good job of that so far. I like people to know the real me and see what I really think, whether it’s about insecurities, struggles, or just phases of life.

Recently I’ve had a new development in my life and every time I stop to write about it I have these thoughts of whether or not I want to share. “What will they think of me?” Those 6 words are ever present in my mind but it was the first time it made me not want to write something. But here we are, I will never let those words win, even if they do occasionally set me back. This blog is the story of a real life, a real marriage, and a real pursuit of following God’s call, and that reminds me to stay transparent and never be one of those bloggers that only shows the pretty side of life.

A few weeks ago I started seeing a counselor. And although it’s not a big deal to some, for others that sentence has a bit of a stigma. “A counselor?! For what?! What happened?!” Nothing. Life happened. Life is hard sometimes and I believe that counseling is a huge step for anyone struggling with anything (everyone.) I’ve actually always wanted to see a counselor just because I truly see the value in sharing your thoughts, feelings, and struggles but to someone who is trained to help.

When I was in school I always wanted to study Psychology and pursue a career in being a high school guidance counselor, and although that isn’t ultimately what I decided to do (another story for another post) I still feel very passionate about everyone seeing a counselor at some point. I truly believe every one can gain from seeing the right counselor.

So what led to this decision?

This is where I tend to want to shy away, because although nothing huge or traumatic happened in my life I still tend to want to keep the the embarrassing stuff hidden. There are two reasons why we decided to make this decision. One of them being: I really have a hard time forgiving people. I hold horrible grudges and tend to write people off. Once someone has hurt me or my family I instantly feel an anger towards them that I can’t ignore. I do a great job of storing that anger in a place where I don’t actively think about it but then if someone brings it up it’s as if I was just hurt yesterday.

I’ve been very blessed in my life with great friends and a great family, so there haven’t been a ton of instances where I’ve had to truly muster up the power to forgive someone for something huge, and I think that’s probably why I’m so bad at it. I don’t know how to process hurt and then forgive. So the few times that I have been hurt have affected me more than I realized originally. My own inability to forgive has only hurt me. You’d think I would have learned that by now considering the amount of Dr. Phil I watch, but I tend to learn things the hard way.

Not a lot of people know this, but growing up I had a cousin who was a heroin addict. My family tried to help her so many times; my parents paid for rehabs, moved her into our home multiple times, etc. She was like my parents 6th daughter and I could see how much it hurt them when she would relapse. Fast forward to high school she ended up living with us for an extended amount of time, and we all thought we were in the clear and didn’t need to worry anymore. And although I was never that nice to her (because she had hurt my family so many times) I was starting to warm up and let her in.

One day only my brother and I were home with her and she said she was going to a friends house, I smiled and said goodbye. That was the last time I saw her. She left that night and drove to a new state with a new man and left my family behind. I watched my Mom and little sister cry for days and days and days. I felt this overwhelming weight of guilt; how had I not seen her packing up her room and move stuff out?! If I would have noticed I could have stopped her and saved my family a great deal of pain.

I have to remind myself that she made that decision and it’s not my fault. However, have I forgiven her? Not even a little. Do I tell myself that I should? Yes. Do I blow up when family members update her on her current living situation and who is taking care of her son? Absolutely. It’s not healthy.

On top of that, if you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time you may have seen my post about mine and Matt’s story   (if not, go take a look for some background info!) We have been through a lot together, partying in high school, getting expelled, partying in college, etc. And although there is no part of our story I’m ashamed of, there are parts of the story that have more impact than most people realize. I won’t go into detail but there were a lot of real fights and issues that arose in our relationship due to that phase of life. The lifestyle ended up becoming a wedge in our relationship. A lot of the stuff we disagreed on and fought about became baggage in our marriage.

As you can see, since we are married, we worked through that time of life as a team. But we have both realized over the past year of our marriage that we dealt with those issues as a couple, I never dealt with them by myself internally, and worked through true forgiveness in my heart. And since our marriage is my number one priority, that is what I’m doing. I don’t want to be this person that can’t forgive others, that is so the antithesis of our goal to become more like Jesus.

It’s hard work to admit things about yourself for the sake of improving as a person. It’s often not enjoyable, but it’s important that we do it anyways. Because I want to be the type of Christ-follower, wife, mother, and friend that is always honest and working towards improvement. I can’t be any of those things in the way that I want to be without forgiveness, because we are all sinners and let each other down. And I will need forgiveness in this life as much as I’ll need to give it.

In addition to my issue with forgiveness, Matt and I both think it’s important to seek council with the path we are on. Pursuing a life of ministry, especially with our past, is pretty intimidating and VERY different than how we originally planned our future. So it’s crucial for us to be working through all the different emotions and changes in a healthy and productive way rather than just internally.

So here I am, counseling. I get to sit in a comfy room that smells good and talk for an hour. Sounds like every girls dream to me! But in reality, it takes a little bit of courage and also the realization that you don’t have to go through something “traumatic” to seek professional help and work to improve. The first thing my counselor said when I shared why I was there was “I am so glad you’re working to improve these things now, rather than in ten years when most people view this as the last option and it’s almost too late.” That encouraged me so much.

I want to encourage all my readers that even your “small” issues are legitimate if they are affecting your daily life! Don’t feel weird or embarrassed to look for a counselor when you can only gain and improve. I felt so embarrassed the first time I told someone but now I try to speak without hesitation and really encourage others to go!