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Judy Lair is a licensed counselor and owner of Counselorplace Christian Counseling. She is the author of “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.” Judy’s personal struggles with fear led her through the valley of hurt and sorrow. She now embraces a joy-filled life grounded in God’s truth and freedom in Christ. Judy uses her professional counseling expertise to tell stories that help people find healing and freedom. Her vulnerable, godly approach helps people find courage to move from Fear to Freedom. For more information or speaking requests, email JudyLair@counselorplace.com or sign up for blog posts at http://judylair.blogspot.com

 “Freedom is attainable. Trust me, I’ve been on the anxiety side, gone through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and now I’m praising God, eating at the banqueting table, and helping others make the same journey. Whether you find yourself stuck in anxiety, disappointment, grief, or confusion, your heart can be set free.” Judy Lair, “From the Other Side of the Couch.”

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sitting in Sadness

Recently one of my clients took the risk to lovingly confront me about a situation where I incorrectly took credit for an idea she had generated. She'd been hurt in this same way by others in her past. I was so proud she stepped out in faith to say something to me. She was absolutely correct and I truthfully admitted it. It wasn't done intentionally, but in my hurry to get something done I didn't review it to see I described the situation inaccurately. The client was gracious in accepting my apology and I'm very grateful she offered me understanding and grace.

Seeing and acknowledging mistakes used to fill me with a great deal of fear, sending me into a self-condemnation cycle. I'd berate myself not only for the present error, but for all the dumb stuff I'd ever done throughout my life. My inner Guardian became a military sergeant, telling me to shape up, scrutinizing and analyzing every detail of life for the next week as punishment. 

I came to realize that I used this destructive cycle to keep me from feeling sad and disappointed in seeing my imperfections. It's scary and frustrating to see immaturities. Instead of bringing God into those feelings, I just wanted to quickly fix it all myself. Many times I came up with a good plan to make sure I never made that same error again. But in doing so I completely missed the bigger lesson God wanted me to learn--that character is not determined by making mistakes. It's shown in how we bravely risk to be vulnerable with God and others when those weaknesses are brought to our attention.

My initial concern was to take responsibility for my failure and make sure the client felt safe to continue the discussion. Driving home, I allowed all the other complicated feelings to surround me. I felt grateful she felt safe to bring the subject up, sad I'd hurt her leading her to question my trustworthiness, embarrassed because she was correct, and frustrated I could've made a different choice and didn't. My inner Guardian worried this lapse in judgment meant something negative about my character. It felt like she was shaking her finger and scolding me, saying something about me getting too big for my britches these days!

It was really uncomfortable meditating on my actions that evening, but I wanted healing more than I needed to side step hard emotions. I've learned how to sit in these difficult feelings and condemning thoughts without needing to defend myself or employ an avoidance strategy. It's not easy and still takes intentionality to implement. But that's where I find God--in the midst of doubts about myself. He reminds me what's true. My responsibility is just to sit still and be sorrowful in the arms of He who loves me dearly.

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