Couple's Counseling
by Chad Gurley

A week or so ago during the day while at work, I got up from my desk suddenly, walked into the 11th floor men's bathroom, went into a stall, shut and latched the door, pulled tissue from the roll, and then quietly began crying. There were only two prayers that came to mind that I offered up as I wept in that tiny, green-tiled closet: Please don't let anyone come in the bathroom right now, and what in the world is wrong with me, God?

When I returned to my desk and the waiting, glowing blue computer screen, I saw on Facebook that someone had just updated her status to something like, JANE "is so happy and joyful that God is SOOOO GOOD ALL the time!!! Thanks and Praise!" I read, I frowned, I wanted to throw up. I found myself completely nauseated by her brightness and bitter with skepticism. With a mumbled, irritated "whatever", I shut down the web browser annoyed and simultaneously depressed by how awful it must be of me to even have such thoughts about happy people and God. (Lord knows I, myself, am guilty of very similar status updates from time to time!) My eyes filled again, and I sat staring blankly at the flower filled plain on my computer's desktop become a churning kaleidoscope of colors through my tears. I felt so alone, displaced, sad, and doubtful, and I was frustrated with myself for feeling so alone, displaced, sad and doubtful. What in the world is wrong with me, God?

My therapist, who is truly one of God's blessings in my life, said that it was completely understandable that I might feel this way. For although these are bright and sunshiny days (for the most part), I am finding this period between Mother's Day and June 7th to be emotionally dark and stormy days for me. These days represent the time between the anniversary of my mother's suicide two years ago and the anniversary of my best friend's suicide three years ago. It is as intense as struggling with a stuck storm shelter door while the wind whips and the locomotive sound of a tornado thunders ever closer. It is at this place that all those promises God has made are suddenly difficult to believe; God's Love seems out of reach; sadness, mourning and grief cloud my eyes with doubt, and I blindly begin to question everything.

After explaining what was happening to my therapist, Barry, one recent session, he asked, "Chad, who are you angry with? Your mother? Your best friend? What would you like to say to them?" In silence, I thought about this, churned it, knowing how difficult it is for me to deal with anger as that emotion was taught to me as a destructive one (rather than one that could potentially be used constructively) I wondered if I could even manage to manifest it and towards whom. After a few moments, I said, "You know, I really think I'm angry at God." Barry pulled an empty chair out from the wall and pushed it in front of me. "Then why don't you tell God about it?"

I'm always a little hesitant when Barry wants to start one of these chair exercises, but I conceded and attempted to look through the empty chair towards God. "Do you see God?" Barry asked. Not really knowing what God looks like, I said, "No, but I can sense that God is there." "Good, then why don't you just tell God how you are feeling," he said, leaning back in his seat, giving God and me room to be with one another.

The words came hesitantly, "I'm angry with You because..." I stopped, paused. Was I really going to tell God this? Who did I think I was to say such a thing - to God? Something inside me said that it didn't matter. What did matter was that it is true what I felt, and God should hear it. "God, I'm angry that you let Mom die. I'm angry that I prayed to you over and over again to help her, and You didn't. I'm angry that I am trying so hard to keep on keeping on, and You don't seem to even be around or care. I'm angry because not only did Mom and my best friend abandon me, but You seem to abandon me too!" After a shallow breath, feeling like I had gone too far (I mean, this was God after all) I thought I should take it all back, but Barry asked me to just simply sit and be with the words I had spoken. So I let them linger there, let the truth of my feelings resonate, and without any judgment, allowed my mind to calm.

Something happened then that caught me completely off guard and surprised me. Instead of "hearing" what I thought would be God's explanation or perhaps God's defense or maybe even God' frustration at my feeling abandoned when that couldn't be further from the truth, all things I would likely say for God, I felt something else so real and simple and concise directed towards me: Just Love. I wish I could put into words the weight of the moment as that little therapy room filled with God's Love, the moment God listened, heard me, and Loved me.

"What is happening?" Barry asked, "What is this I'm sensing?" and I told him that it was Love, pure and genuine Love and that's all, shocked to find my therapist experiencing something extraordinary within those four walls alongside me.

As the appointment was ending, he asked what I thought about the session that day, and I looked over at the empty chair and said, "You know, I think God and I need to do this more often. Couple's counseling seems really good for us."

 

© 2009 Chad Gurley


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