So . . . my last post was a bit heavier than usual, but tonight as I write this, my heart is full.
Right around the time of my previous post, we had a tiny bit of celebration in our household. Well, it was a big deal to one person in particular, and just a generally happy moment for the rest of us. Daughter Dearest was able to celebrate her final appointment with the counselor she’s been meeting with for the past sixteen-plus months.
Over the past couple years, Ellie has struggled with depression and anxiety. At first, we chalked it up to typical teen angst and sort of waited for her to snap out of it. All stellar parents are trained to not overreact when their teenaged daughter goes through the ups and downs of each day . . . or each hour . . . or sometimes each moment. Because Ellie has not typically been a “down” type, we really did think it was a phase. After all, she had a few friends who were going through struggles, and she’s the type of person who takes her friends’ problems seriously—sometimes to the point where she feels it’s her duty to fix things (which pulls her down when they’re down). Plus . . . that stellar parent thing.
But when she came to us and asked if she could see a counselor, and shared some of her struggles and thought processes with us, we realized it was a much more serious issue than teen garbage. The problems were real, they were serious, and they needed immediate attention that we were ill-equipped to provide.
Thankfully, we found an incredible counselor who was the perfect fit for her. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s not always that easy for a patient and counselor to “click.” In Ellie’s case, I feel as if we won the lottery. Her counselor shared our beliefs, and was patient and gentle but really didn’t let her make excuses. She tackled each issue from a different angle and always pressed for honesty and accountability. Sometimes Tim or I would stay in the session with her and sometimes we waited in the hallway, but we always felt Ellie was in good hands. For her own part, Ellie was pretty open about what was discussed most weeks, and if there was something she didn’t feel ready to share, we didn’t press. The important thing was for her to be honest with the counselor even when she struggled with allowing us to see her failings.
I think one of the things I liked most about this counselor is something many Christians may not like to hear me say: she didn’t fall back on the “Well, just pray about it” angle. Yes, I believe prayer should be our first action. But there are those who will twist their theology and say we’re not praying hard enough if we aren’t getting the answers we seek. Or that we don’t have strong enough faith if God doesn’t choose to heal us supernaturally. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith”? Believe me, I’ve gone down that road with Matthew 21:22 and those accusations tossed my way, and I am quick to call it out when I hear it. If it were that easy to twist God’s arm, forcing him to do what I want because I’ve followed the right formula, then he wouldn’t amount to much, as far as gods are concerned.
But that’s another blog post for another day.
Tonight, I listened to our beautiful daughter practice her songs as she prepared to lead worship for her small group Sunday morning with the youth ministry. The other night, I listened to her excitement as she made plans for when she starts her first job this coming week. I’ve listened as she’s shared her relapses, and I’ve listened as she’s shared her victories. The victories are far outweighing the relapses, and her joy when she realizes how far she’s come is contagious.
Cause for celebration indeed.