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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Life Line Part 10: Twenty-Ten

ImageBy the time I was 27 (in 2010) I had gone from being an intern working in the office of CTI Music Ministries to a mission’s leader traveling with teams all over the world.  I unequivocally loved my life. I felt as though I was living completely within my giftings and passions, and growing in my relationship with the Lord every moment. I was seeing the world, I was sharing my story, mentoring team members, playing music, and building life-long friendships. The only thing that could have been better was my health.

I had always known that my health would degenerate the older I got; I had just never been so affected by it like I was at this point in my life. In the years past I had been able to maintain a relatively normal existence, with minimal disruption from my disease. Sure I was typically in the hospital once or twice during a year, and on home-IV-antibiotics several weeks at a time, but that was all normal to me. I had learned to work around that in order to do the things “normal” people my age were doing, like going to school, working their first job, and attending football games, etc. But this was different. Suddenly my health was worse than it had ever been and I was finding it hard to even have conversations without getting short of breath. The work I was doing was physically taxing on a person in perfect health but for me it seemed to be a million times worse. We were carrying stage equipment and luggage all over whatever country we happened to be in, we were doing up to four concerts a day, and we were getting hardly any sleep. Not only that but I was hardly able to keep up with my medication drudgery.

This all came to a head when I checked myself into the hospital and found that my lung function was lower than it had ever been. It was so low the doctors started to talk to me about getting on a transplant list.   Needless to say, they were not happy when they found out about the kind of life I had been living the past two years. One of my doctors flat out said to me, “I just want to make sure you understand that the way you are choosing to live your life is literally killing you”. My response to that came pouring out of my mouth almost instantly, so I knew my words were authentic. I told him, “I know. I know the cost, and I want to pay it because I love my life. There isn’t anything I would rather be doing. I’m doing things that I am proud of. It is worth it to me. If I die…I die”.

The emotion of that moment didn’t catch up with me until a few hours later when the doctor had long gone. I was laying in my hospital bed weeping. But it wasn’t because of the prospect of death, it was because I could see tangibly that my heart was finally genuine, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude that the Lord would give me an opportunity to show Him that. I was being made more like Christ! What more could I want?

Affects on Counseling

In all honesty, I can’t see a way this event will directly affect my counseling. Perhaps I will realize some correlation unexpectedly some day, but for now I’m not seeing it. Obviously this event has had a huge role in shaping my character, and I understand that our character is the foundation on which we build our counseling technique; still I can’t seem to pinpoint anything specific.

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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Life Line Part Nine: Two Thousand and Nine

4807363728_d6c0457f5d_oIn 2009, only a few months after my move, I noticed it was harder than I thought it would be acclimating to the climate and cultural shock that greeted me in central Minnesota. I was enjoying my new job as an intern but I was finding it difficult to find things to do on my off time, especially because I had moved there in the dead of winter, which meant many snowy days when any activity other than staying inside was completely out of the question.  With nothing else to do with my time I became a blogger, and I started telling little stories about my life and thoughts to the cyber world. In my writings I saw a theme start to emerge: I was 25 years old and I was still curious about my birthfather.

There had been times when I was younger when I wanted to ask my mom questions about where he was or why he left, but I feared I would hurt her feelings or make her think I thought her love wasn’t enough for me. I guess I just wasn’t curious enough to risk hurting her, because up until this point I had never brought it up. I decided though, now that I was an adult, I could have a conversation with my mom and kind of clear up some of my childhood assumptions.  One of my assumptions, for example, was that my father had been looking for me all these years, wanting to apologize for leaving me, but just couldn’t find me. My mom and I moved around a few times before she remarried, perhaps my father lost track of where she was and couldn’t find us even if he wanted to. Another assumption was that my being sick totally ruined my mom’s life. I mean maybe if I wasn’t sick my father wouldn’t have left in the first place and they would still be happily married.

I needed to resolve these questions, I needed to move on with my adult life and not have these thoughts lingering in the background forever. So I mustered up my courage and hunkered down for a long phone conversation with my mom. Thankfully my mom didn’t seem offended by my inquiring, and she gave me the straight up truth, even though it wasn’t pleasant.

What I learned was pretty disappointing. Not only did he leave my mom weeks after I was diagnosed with CF, but my father didn’t try to contact me even one time. He never asked to spend time with me, never sent me a birthday card, even his parents found it best to stay out of my life. My mom said every time we relocated she made sure my father and grandparents had our information just in case they wanted to see me…but they didn’t. The real kicker though, was hearing that a year after they got divorced, my father showed up at my mom’s work and said he wanted to get back together with her. When she said no he just turned and walked away. Never asked about me, never asked how I was doing, never acknowledged my existence. Just walked away.

Surprisingly I wasn’t angry. I felt bad for him. He has to feel guilt on some level (either that or my father is a total narcissist with no conscience whatsoever). In a moment when I should have been livid and brokenhearted I felt relief and thankfulness along with my pity. I was hurt, yes, but I was so thankful that the Lord saw fit to spare me from a father who didn’t care about me at all. Instead He gave me a dad who would adopt me and treat me like his own. It was a glorious picture of what Christ does for His children by adopting them into His family, whether sick, or wounded, or tossed aside, He loves them as His own.  How humbling that is…and how beautiful!

Affects on Counseling

Just like most of my other experiences in life, I think this one builds up my empathy for other people. Whether I’m in the counseling room or just meeting someone at church for the first time, I can have a proper perspective of Christ’s love for them. Even if I am counseling someone who is an unbeliever I can pray that they will be adopted later on in their life. All our stories are so different. Some of us are adopted in our youth and some may be adopted moments before our death. Knowing these things will cause me to pray for each and every one of my clients.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Life Line Part 8: The Big Move

If there is one thing I learned from the Nick situation it’s that there is an actual cost to following Christ. To live a life completely alive in Him requires sacrifice on some level, from all of us. It took me a while to come to terms with this but I realized that I was only willing to give my relationship with Nick over to God because I believed He’d give it back to me. I didn’t think God was calling me to follow Him and really give up everything I wanted for myself (mainly a love life). I thought my story would be like Abraham’s! The Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice his son and then when He saw Abraham was willing to really do it He provided a sacrifice instead, and gave Abraham his son back. How was my story any different? I was baffled. In hindsight I can see the difference quite clearly: Abraham didn’t know the ending of his own story. He didn’t know whether Isaac would die that day or not, but Abraham trusted God and obeyed anyway. It is hard to say whether I would have been as faithful asImage Abraham in my situation if I had not assumed I knew the ending of my story. All I know is that if I were faced with the same decision again, I would make all the same choices.

My realization about the cost to following Christ combined with my dad’s death ushered me into this Cease the Day mentality. Life is short and I wanted to live a life that would be an honorable legacy behind my father. I also wanted to serve Christ with my entire being no matter the cost, and I didn’t want to wait around to do it. So, in January of 2008, just before my 25th birthday, I took an internship with CTI Music Ministries and moved from my hometown in sunny California to the icy lake-land of Minnesota.

I was really doing it this time! I was handing over every comfort and every expectation I had for my life in order to chase after the Lord. I left everything I knew, my doctors, my family, my friends, and my job, without expecting anything in return from the Lord except His glory. I didn’t know what He was going to do in or around me when I left home. All I knew was that I was reeling with excitement.

Affects on Counseling

I think this event will have a pretty positive impact on my counseling. I will be able to sympathize with those clients who are coming to therapy but have no idea why or what they expect to get out of it. In my case, I knew I needed to take this internship but I knew nothing about what it would be like or why I needed to be there.  I just needed to go! Likewise, clients may realize they need help, and coming to counseling is the one and only step they could think to take. It will be my joy to help them figure out their goals and their expectations for our time together.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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