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The Journey that Saved My Life

Ten years ago this week, Trevor and I flew out to Colorado for an intensive week of therapy that

forever altered my life, setting in motion the domino collapse of much of my worldview and my

own anxious ways of showing up. I was a pastor who had grown up in the church. I taught

people the Bible and theology, but this week showed me places I had misunderstood and missed

God entirely. I had gaping holes in my heart I’d been trying to fill by being the Perfect Pastor’s

Wife and overall Good Girl. My sweet husband had his own pain that this week allowed us to

shed a tender light on, hurt that didn’t want to be seen it was so painful. We grasped hands and

committed to walk toward the light of healing and wholeness, even if that meant humbling

ourselves and walking away from all that we knew to get there.

It was a harder and longer journey than I could possibly imagine. In the ensuing years, our

marriage died and was reborn. We got honest and raw in ways we had never been before. We

became strangers, enemies, alienated. We went on our own journeys to face our individual hang-

ups. I had a nervous breakdown. He struggled with his faith. We fought our way through our

dashed expectations, unmet needs, disordered priorities, and deepest fears. I always thought I

was high-achieving and detail-oriented, a born performer; my therapist lovingly helped me to

properly relabel all those things as people-pleasing anxiety. It had a stranglehold on my life.

We were carried back – by God and by wise counsel - to a place of health and stability. We

claimed new territory together that was completely our own, a life of two unique individuals. We

also learned. What is different for us now 10 years later is a long list of things that I could

expound on for hours. A short smattering of some of these:

- We no longer say ‘yes’ as if it was ‘hello.’ ‘No’ as a full sentence was a starting point for

establishing self-respect and autonomy.

- I learned to be weak and in need without self-condemnation. The extraordinary gift of

brokenness is getting in touch with your own humanity (we are souls with a forever needy body,

mind, and emotional state) and realizing Jesus doesn’t shame it or expect us to ever stop being

human. We don’t ‘outgrow’ our humanity in sanctification. It doesn’t work that way. And our

human need is not a selfish sinfulness. I learned to ask and keep asking for help. I learned to

honor my limitations and live within them. I learned to have genuine compassion for others that

are broken like me.

- I recognize that what I used to call ‘holiness’ was too often actually a grace-robbing concoction

of pride, people-pleasing, and self-righteousness. Although I couldn’t see it and would never

have admitted it, I sat on a high horse looking down at people that didn’t live like I lived. God in

his infinite mercy knocked me off my high horse and let the scales of my blindness fall from my


- On a lighter note, I learned to broaden and diversify my support system. I took up running and

weight-lifting as a fantastic way to process feelings and relieve stress. I’ve stopped caring so

much what other people think of me. Image management is just advertising, and you and I are

not products to be consumed. We care far too much how things look rather than how they

actually are. Integrity closes the gap between what we project and what is actually true.

I share all this for a few reasons. For one, I no longer desire to lead, teach, pastor, or encourage

people from a place of “see how strong and successful I am; follow me!” but rather from the

accessible place of “I’ve been broken there too; follow me.” Struggles, failures, doubts, pains,

and questions aren’t banished in the walk of faith as guests of which to be ashamed. They are

welcome as necessary companions for the journey. I’ve become what Henri Nouwen calls the

Wounded Healer; I will always have a limp while keeping my eyes open for those struggling like

I have struggled.

Another reason is I cannot say enough how helpful therapy has been. Having someone help you

see what you cannot see on your own, dismantle your life’s house to expose its cracked

foundation, excavate, bulldoze, pour new concrete, and then navigate the unknown as you slowly

put your life back together is a ministry in a league of its own. My only regret is having not

started sooner.

My biggest reason for sharing is that I want to offer hope to someone, anyone who resonates

with any of this mess and is not sure there can be a way forward. I can tell you that your

marriage can make it through devastating seasons, that you don’t have to live anxious and afraid.

I want you to know you can be honest and let it all fall apart as you do, that Jesus is faithful to

catch you in your free fall and will surprise you with extraordinary grace. If you’re in ministry

and afraid for your reputation and future, I can tell you that the journey through honesty to

wholeness is well worth it.

I have a freedom to be myself and a confidence in Christ my Savior I didn’t have ten years ago. I

walk with a spiritual authority that doesn’t bow to man’s opinions that I didn’t have ten years

ago. I have tools in my kit and an arsenal of perspective from so many years immersed in therapy

and mental health practices. And sweetest of all, I have a thriving, close, healthy, fun marriage

that’s been strengthened through our mountain journey and two more beautiful kids that might

not have been.

There’s so much more, but here's to honoring a ten-year anniversary of the week that saved my

life and my marriage. Thanks be to God.

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