Counseling is a strange profession. I have an office. People who initially don’t know me from Adam come to see me, often referred by their minister or a friend. Sometimes they come under some sort of duress, going through the motions to appease a spouse or a parent, or maybe a court judge. In these cases, our visits are usually exercises in futility; unless someone is convinced he needs help, he is, for the most part, immune from it.

But more often than not, people come because they feel they have nowhere else to turn. They have tried different things, like reading self-help books or swallowing anti-depressants, changing lovers or changing jobs, buying more toys or exercising, going to strip joints or joining a cult. They have tried running away from church or towards church, and they have prayed and been prayed for, and they have felt better for a while.

But then it comes again: this sense of separation, of disconnection, of emptiness, of feeling strangely less than safe. And so, sometimes, they find their way to an office like mine, or, more likely, God finds their way for them.

And in walk these people, usually somewhat fearfully, their eyes always looking somewhere other than into mine. At first we start with small talk such as “How about all this rain” or “The traffic is just terrible,” or some such stuff.

And then. Then, against all odds and reason, sometimes something happens. Although some counselors might claim their own therapeutic wizardry as its cause, it is for me always a mostly inexplicable thing, a God thing: This total stranger, who has come to sit on my couch for the most mysterious of reasons suddenly begins to tell me the most intimate details about her life.

For reasons known only to Him, God intervenes, and this frightened person finally makes a bit of eye contact with me, and decides it is safe here. Though not quite sure why, she decides to jump. She shares with me her darkest soul-secrets, her dreams and desires, her fantasies and fears… and somehow, through the most gifted of all Interpreters, she and I find a common voice, a communion of spiritual language. We connect. We share together, and sometimes—if the person is willing to experience such a bizarre thing—we pray together.

In the presence of the Holy Spirit—the Great Counselor—the healing begins, right then and there, through us and in spite of us. And in some unfathomable way, we become Christ to one another.

The Right One For You

Have you been considering seeking the help of a Christian counselor? Or have you tried counseling in the past, but been disappointed in the experience? Whatever your situation, I hope this article encourages you not to give up in the search for a therapist who can help bring healing and wholeness to your life.

A friend told me the other day about how he and his wife had gone through a disastrous experience while having their new house built. “Everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong,” he said with a sigh. “The contractor turned out to be completely inept and dishonest. The whole thing was a nightmare. And the strangest part of all,” he said, sadly shaking his head as if still in disbelief, “the guy was a Christian.”

My guess is most believers, including myself, have made similar mistakes: the church-going mechanic who rips us off and stares us dead in the eye while denying it; the deacon who shamelessly sells us a lemon-whatever; or the Sunday School teacher who assured us she knew all about wallpapering, screwed up the job, and refused to give back the money.