My Own Prison of the Past
My walk through the wilderness was paved with regret: failed relationships, immorality, abortion, addiction and suicide attempts. I existed in an emotional prison and the bars were fear and anxiety.
I grew up in a large Irish Catholic family with an alcoholic father who was abusive and unpredictable. He controlled his family through rage and fear. My father was unfaithful to my mother for most of their marriage and was addicted to pornography. At age 13, I was removed from my family and lived in institutions and group homes until I was 18. As an adult, I was totally unprepared for the hardships and challenges life brought. I felt empty and depressed most of the time and operated out of fear and mistrust for others, especially men.
Relationships were extremely difficult for me so I sought help from a psychologist who specialized in childhood abuse. She told me that if I was looking for change in my life, I needed to change myself. The only way to do that, she continued, was to completely rehash my painful childhood. All of these difficult feelings were repressed and needed to be brought to the surface so that healing could occur. I was hypnotized to recall details. My feelings were always the focus of each session. I was told it would take years to reverse all the damage. The end goal was to learn how to “love myself.” She told me often that I should be proud of myself for surviving my childhood. The focus was almost always on the past and the blame was on my parents. I went years without speaking to my parents because I was so consumed with anger and resentment. Since I put all of my trust in my therapist, she became an idol to me. I took everything she said as truth. After thousands of dollars and almost 10 years of my life spent, there was still a huge void inside of me.
At 37, life was coming undone. I was a single mom on welfare looking for work when I met a woman who invited me to a Bible based addictions program called Reformers Unanimous at a local church. I heard the gospel for the first time from a preacher whose own testimony made mine look wimpy. He talked about redemption, salvation and forgiveness. He talked about hope, the living hope – Jesus Christ. I accepted Christ’s payment on the cross for my sins that night and my despair was INSTANTLY replaced with hope. Jesus filled my soul with a peace I could never put into words. Within a month, I stopped smoking and drinking alcohol. Shame and guilt melted away and my conscience was wiped clean.
A few weeks after attending church, I was approached by a man who reminded me of a game show host because he was so friendly. He mentioned he was a counselor and asked if I had any spiritual needs. I knew I had many questions and so I began biblical counseling with Pastor Eifert. Within about 2 weeks, my pride took a blow and shattered into a million little self-righteous pieces when he stated, “you are nothing without God.” Wow! But wasn’t I supposed to be proud I had survived life up until now? God forced me to realize my nothingness before He could begin to restore and sanctify me. Biblical counseling taught me that I could depend on the solid truth of God – and who He says I am – rather than the rollercoaster of fickle feelings. Pastor Eifert ministered the Word of God to me in a clear, practical and professional way. I learned how to apply God’s Word to my life. I also learned to forgive my dad with the same forgiveness I received from Christ. I grew more spiritually with 6 months of biblical counseling than in 10 years of therapy. In the meantime, God brought my future husband to me; and once engaged we began premarital counseling. This prepared us for marriage God’s way. Pastor helped us to know what the Bible says about love, forgiveness, and patience. Premarital counseling allowed us to enter into marriage with a biblical view of our roles. We learned in 1 Corinthians that love is long suffering and kind, very different from what the world says it is.
Through biblical counseling I finally knew the truth and as Jesus said, you “shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”. John 8:32