Yesterday we met up with another Christian couple for a picnic in the park. Today I went to see the infertility counsellor (we were offered some free sessions with our clinic).
On both days we covered the same topics: wanting children, work-life balance, priorities, faith, the meaning of rest. But they were very different experiences.
Yesterday I came home feeling refreshed and thankful. I left the counsellor today feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. Useless and sad.
It’s not about secular counselling per se. In my experience this has, at times, been useful. The lady I’ve been seeing is good at her job; experienced and wise. She’s independent and impartial. And as with everything, I filter her comments through my own damaged lenses.
Yesterday I was reminded of the Lord’s hand at work in even the difficult situations. Of a God who redeems suffering and who carries our cares. Sitting in a tiny summer dress, I was physically and emotionally uncovered – but warmed by sunshine and friendship. I felt normal: broken sure, but loved and understood. We were open about encouragements and sadness; our walk with God; the people we care about; the things weighing on our minds. We chatted about the need for rest – but how that rest is found in community, in serving others and being served. And we wondered aloud at the unseen work of the kingdom; the weakness that displays His strength and the deep joy that accompanies deep sadness.
In today’s session I saw my life and choices very differently. I looked through the eyes of someone who, as far as I know, doesn’t believe in the God who shapes my life. Sympathetic, but uncomprehending.
I tried to explain what my husband does; what I write about and why I do it. Yet without the Lord holding me together, the tapestry of my experiences unravelled. I had nothing to stand upon and nothing to say.
We tried to build bridges.
‘Charity’ she commented, ‘begins at home. Do things you enjoy: go on a laughter course. Take time off; spoil yourself’.
About being positive. She spoke of the importance of putting ourselves first. Surrounding ourselves with happy people. Eating well, sleeping, exercise. The randomness of life, the value of routine and making the most of bad situations.
About relaxation; a healthy work-life balance, the need to be kind to ourselves before looking at others.
I shared some of my experiences; depression, anorexia and the rest. She was kind, but the more I spoke, the more messed-up I felt. I wanted to reassure her: You’re doing a great job – I’m just a bit too broken. Not all Christians are like me. Most of them are quite normal.
I guess – what helps me most isn’t permission to be more selfish. Just like what makes me laugh isn’t a professional course. My hope is not in changing my circumstances or positive thinking. It’s not a baby or meal out or a good night’s rest.
My hope is in Christ and His people. Without them, life is empty. But with them: even when it’s hard, it’s really ok.