I remember a couple I saw many years ago. They were married one year and I was their fourth marriage counselor. After the first session it didn’t look good- they were quite a challenge. But, never one to flee a challenge I decided I’d give it time and see what we could do.
They were tough! Many sessions were ping pong matches, with words, insults and complaints hurled back and forth with me barely able to get a word in edgewise.
To make matters worse, they were a late night session and my last session of the week. Trust me; these two would have had Sigmund Freud hitting the bottle! (No, I didn’t hit the bottle, but there were many nights I stopped for a cannoli or two on my way home.)
They both had some issues but the big problem became obvious. This wife was wounded deeply. A change of life baby, born into a difficult marriage to an angry mother who admitted to trying everything she could to miscarry her. Reasoning with this wife wasn’t easy. I prayed for them. (I pray for all of my clients.) Knowing I had to do something I resolved that I just had to confront her (gently of course), and let her know that she was the root of the problem in this marriage and she would have to work on making changes and healing her hurts. I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t in good conscience just keep watching ping pong and taking their money.
I’ll never forget the moment. I was getting out of my car when I got to the office, resolved to confront her later that evening. I heard an inner voice that said “Just love her”. Just love her. No fancy therapeutic interventions suggested. No clever words to say. Just love her. I felt a peace come over me, abandoned my plan and opened my heart. Armed with the power of Christ and aided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I was able to love this difficult, wounded woman. Sure, there was more ping pong but I let the process unfold naturally with my heart open to her hurts. Because God worked on my heart, He was able to work on hers. Over time things changed and they made big progress. Happy to say, they stayed together and went on to have a family.
Just love her…good advice for us therapists. Good advice for all of us. Are you dealing with a difficult spouse, child, parent, or neighbor? First pray and then just love him or her. Or more accurately, open your heart and allow God to love them through you. Only God knows the inner battles they may be fighting. Follow His lead.
Jesus is the Ultimate Healer and died to set us free from our sins and the effects of those who have sinned against us. He uses many means. Sometimes He uses therapists. Sometimes He uses fools. At times we may be one and the same. If prayer is not part of the therapy process we miss out on many graces. Loving a difficult person on our own power is often impossible. But with God, all things are possible.
Yes, all things.
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