When I was in seventh grade, I was imagining things. I was imagining that my mom was unsafe when I was at school, so I would pretend to be sick to stay home and take care of her. And when I was home alone, I would imagine that someone else was in our apartment with us. One time, I even hid in my mom’s closet for a couple hours. I wouldn’t have known on my own at that age that I needed help, but my mom did and she had me start meeting with the school counselor.
When my first engagement was broken, I was desperately sad. I even drove to Iowa on a whim (though I only got forty-five minutes from home before turning around because I didn’t want my mom to worry). When I went back to college in the fall, I saw a counselor to try to pick up the pieces.
When I first noticed that hidden alcohol was being consumed in my home all those years ago, I asked for help from a woman from church. Though she loves God very much, she didn’t know what to do for me, so I remained without help for years and years.
During my first marriage, we saw many counselors together over the years, but it wasn’t until I was crying and practically hyperventilating on a counselor’s couch about year fifteen that it was suggested to me that I try AlAnon (and going to AlAnon changed my life).
So, how do you know when it’s time to get help, physically, emotionally, relationally or spiritually?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. An example would be if you eat raw chocolate chip cookie dough each night before bed, and then you woke up in the middle of the night with a stomachache and had to throw up; and then you did the same thing the next night and the next night, and you keep getting sick. This should be no surprise.
It’s time to get outside help when you realize that what you’ve been doing repeatedly isn’t changing your situation.
And it’s time to get outside help when you realize that you don’t know what else to do to change your situation.
Sometimes we will find ourselves in circumstances or with problems that are too big for us to handle on our own. Something like realizing your husband is having an affair or has a pornography or alcohol or drug addiction or is abusing you or your ex-husband isn’t respectful of your boundaries or is parenting in a way that scares you. These are all things that can be too complicated to figure out on our own because we can be too emotionally invested or too close to the situation to see what’s real and what’s not.
When you find yourself in a situation like this, here’s what you can do:
Pray. Ask God for wisdom. He promises in James 1 that he will give it to you.
Read the Bible. Look up verses that have to do with your situation and follow God’s wisdom.
Do your part, what you know to be right. Meaning, if you’re about to lose your job because you keep skipping work, get yourself to work tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. If you’re being abused, steer clear of the person as much as possible, and don’t say unkind things back.
Talk to someone you trust. The Bible talks about much wisdom being among many wise counselors. If the only person you’re listening to is yourself, you could be led astray time and time again, especially in your pain and potential bitterness. You need to hear what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
If you don’t have a mentor or wise friend to share with, I would love to work with you as a coach.
Get counseling. There will be times in your life when you feel stuck, when you don’t know what decision to make, when life is just too confusing and complicated. An unbiased third party can help you see details from different angles and can offer solutions you hadn’t even thought of yet.
Jesus does not expect us to get through life without needing help. If he did, a) he wouldn’t have needed to come for us, and b) he wouldn’t have given us family and friends and the Church. We are supposed to need him and need other people to get through life. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help, it’s a sign of wisdom and it’s a sign of strength.
Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. -Proverbs 15:22
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