Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling

A Client Story

The following post is from Chris O’Rear, M.Div., M.M.F.T., Licensed Clinical Pastoral Therapist at Pastoral Counseling Centers of Tennessee, Inc., in Nashville, Tennessee.

Several years ago, I had a new client come to me because she felt cut-off from her feelings and other people. Eventually she described a history of emotional neglect, physical and sexual abuse that was quite disturbing. After a long time of working together we were discussing her process of therapy and where she felt she was in her process.  She sent me the following note:

You cannot know how grateful I am for you. I believe that God is the director of our sessions and with your guidance and God’s, I will be set free; free from the bondage of self. You seem to unconditionally love people – and that is new and odd to me. I try to make sense out of it and when I do I think I feel a glimmer of the love of Christ. Most people would not try to put themselves in my shoes and the fact that you do may be the grace of God knowing what I need. How can I be worthy of God’s grace now, but not back then – [when I was young]. I must stop assuming that I am not worthy.  You treat me as if I am worthy. Please don’t change how you interact with me. You are saving my life – or helping me to find my life – myself. This is very serious to me, still in writing this I am trying to believe that you find me worthy to offer any assistance at all. I will do my best to hold onto the hope that I have as much as I can this week. And that is what I believe will pull me out of this pit of despair. I know that you have hope and I may focus on yours until I can feel it for myself. 

Soon after this, after one of our sessions, she reported that she had a sense of peace and calm come over her.  She would later describe her process of going from being completely shut off from her own feelings and connection with other people, to tearing down the walls of her feelings and feeling overwhelmed, to feeling that she could handle the feelings and she could learn to trust others and connect with others.

During this time, she began to explore churches and seek a place she could reconnect with God or perhaps meet God in a way she had not known God before. She said in one session, I may even learn love Jesus too.   As she has been trying to figure out what it means to be a part of a church and what it means to have a relationship with God, it was a humbling blessing to walk with her through the journey. I am grateful for God’s work in her life.

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