I walked into a counselor’s office several years ago wanting her to tell me something wise and comforting; ultimately wanting her to tell me what to do. I had lost my husband to cancer and my best friend shortly after that. I was in the pit of depression and I needed help finding the faith in God that I once knew and trusted. I sat in her office waiting for her a special “how to” formula to rejuvenate my faith. In one session I was determined to find out all I needed to know to move on. That’s what I wanted to happen.
After several months of questioning and trying to make sense of it all, I began questioning God and Lynn. I wanted her to give me answers because she was present, physically present, and God felt so distant.
Well, she didn’t give me any answers, and she didn’t pray for me. Instead, she made me pray for myself and made me answer my own questions.
During what I referred to as my “faith crisis,” there was one session that was pivotal. With the holidays approaching, the intensity of my pain and loneliness was suddenly overwhelming. I walked into her office that day announcing that I hated the holidays. She grinned and said, “What did the holidays do to you?”
That was it! I knew then that my counselor had the compassion of a mannequin. She certainly couldn’t be a real human, let alone a Christian! I was very angry that day. It was obvious in my tone and I am sure my eyes were firing daggers. What she asked me to do next didn’t make any sense at all. For the remainder of the hour, I was to begin thanking God for the good things in my life, one at a time.
For several minutes the only thing heard in that room was the faint voices of people across the hall.
Finally I began to whisper, one by one, the things that I was thankful for. I started naming obvious things and continued to name things for several more minutes. At one point, my counselor stopped me. She gently placed in my hand a piece of paper with a list of all the things I had mentioned.
She told me to take the list with me wherever I went. When self-pity or depression began to take over, I was to continue adding to that list. It seemed like a crazy idea at the time. But, I needed this exercise to help me see that there really was a power greater than myself.
At the time, that power may have simply been gratitude. But that gratitude was a stepping stone to my renewed faith in a living, loving, and powerful God.
It has been nearly 20 years since that pivotal day and I still sit down each night to make a list of the things I’m thankful for. One by one, page by page, I make note of these things and each time I do, my faith again is renewed.