It’s 7:45p after a long day at home with three kids. I am far more ready for bedtime than they are, and at this point I don’t even care if their teeth are brushed or not. Solitude seems to live in a galaxy far away, and I can hear the baby crying from her room in protest of her current confinement.
I quickly glance at the kids’ Bible sitting on their dresser. While the Spirit inside of me knows it is what we all need, my flesh wants to rush through this process as quickly as possible so I can tend to the pile of dishes calling my name downstairs in hopes of squeezing in a few minutes of downtime before I collapse into bed.
But if 2020 has taught me anything, it is the importance of this time for both my kids and me, and I have seen the Lord use it night after night throughout this quarantine. He has met my weary heart with profound yet simple truths, written as a story for my children.
In The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones has taken stories from the Bible – each representing a unique thread – and woven them together to reveal a beautiful tapestry of God’s “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.” As a Christian and a therapist, it speaks to both my heart and my profession. The Bible is a book of true stories that point to Jesus, and the Lord continues to use stories to bring others to Him.
I have the honor of sitting with people as they connect the threads of their own story together. I sit with women while tears stream down their cheeks, as they grieve the loss of broken relationships. I sit with couples as they fight to connect, longing to feel safe in one another’s arms. I sit with families separated by brick walls built of hurt and anger, reinforced by shame and fear. It is a privilege to sit in the chair across the room in these moments, and a responsibility I do not take lightly.
Your story matters, but not because of the accomplishments you’ve achieved or the struggles you’ve overcome. Your story matters because it is a medium through which the Lord points you back to Himself. Your story matters, and whether you believe it or not, your experiences are affecting how you view the world and how you engage with those around you.
I believe in counseling because it provides a safe space for us to come face-to-face with the brokenness of our story and allows the Lord to meet us there. That is the most beautiful part of this process – as believers, we can take a next step toward Christ through counseling, as we hold out our arms in surrender, grab tightly to His hands, and walk with Him toward healing.
Only He can truly and wholly heal, and our willingness to engage with the hurt is an act of trust. We are trusting that the Lord is bigger than our pain, bigger than our problems, bigger than our sin, bigger than our suffering. We are trusting that He will scoop us up in His arms and hold us in the moments that seem too hard or heavy. We are trusting that He will wipe our tears, kiss our forehead, and give our weary hand a squeeze. We are trusting that He will create something beautiful out of the ashes. We are trusting that He will use our story – no matter how messy or seemingly incomplete – to draw us and others near to Him.
Julie Hotalen, M.A. is the Grace Care and Counseling Coordinator.