My friend Melissa is giving her testimony tomorrow morning as a personal endorsement for North American Nouthetic Counsellors (NANC). She has given me permission to post the final draft here at RearViewMirror. So here it is:
It has been said that there are only 2 certain things in this life: death and taxes. I think I can safely add a third certainty: If you live long enough, you will experience trials and tribulations – some of them intense, painful, and completely unexpected. Caught without an adequate theology of suffering, or in a state of inexperience or immaturity, many Christians fail to capitalize on these opportunities for growth, and instead find themselves growing bitter and doubtful of truths they once claimed to embrace wholeheartedly.
Not so very long ago, I found myself struggling through one of those times, and I was not progressing well. After a prolonged season of turmoil, I decided to seek out objective Christian counsel, and at the suggestion of a friend, searched the National Association for Nouthetic Counselling (NANC) website for a NANC-certified counselor. Through the website I learned of Kathy Regnier, and immediately contacted her to set up a meeting with her here at First Baptist Church.
Little did I know just how much of an impact my time with Kathy would have. I think it’s safe to say that I definitely got more than I expected from our time together! I came to Kathy confused and angry over the wounds I had endured (some self-inflicted, some not), and bitter at God. However, instead of justifying me in my anger against those who had hurt me or encouraging me to think of myself as a “sad victim who deserved so much better” (as I might have expected to hear), Kathy used Scripture to tear my eyes off of myself, my emotions, my circumstances, and my expectations, and refocus me onto a God that is so much more powerful, forgiving, and loving than I had ever truly realized in the past.
Kathy did, indeed, offer helpful advice to resolve the immediate problem and choices at hand, but even more importantly, she led me to dig deeper, to consider the spiritual root of my struggles, and to understand how God was using this trial to expose the true state of my heart and my relationship to Him (something which I now understand to be a key component of nouthetic counseling as taught by NANC).
My reaction to God’s dealings in my life revealed that I held a far greater view of myself and a far lower view of God than I ever realized. However, as we opened up the Word together, God focused my heart more on objective truths about His character, His love for His children, and His absolute sovereignty. Rather than continuing to fight God, I came to taste something of the peace that can only be found in submitting obediently to His perfect will.
I can hardly believe I’m saying this – but I believe I can actually give thanks for the trial God brought into my life. He used the experience to capture my attention, to humble me, to expose much of the self-love lurking in my heart, and to reveal just that much more of His amazing character and grace. Now, having proven His sufficiency and faithfulness, I am more deeply assured that He will do the same when the next storm comes, and until then, I pray that I am matured further in my faith, and that I may be of some use to others in need.
As I look back, I am so thankful that a committed, well-trained Christian counselor within the Church was available to bring God’s word to bear upon the issues of my life. Kathy’s helpful words were one of the main things God used to help me grow “better – not bitter” through one of the most difficult times in my life to date. (God also surrounded me with a godly family, Pastor, and group of friends, as well).
God has assigned His Church both the duty and privilege of protecting and ministering His truth to a fallen, foolish, and rebellious humanity. It is my hope that each of you here today would support the counseling ministry here at First Baptist, as it seeks to fulfill this mandate, working within the Church to address the real needs of wounded and broken people both inside and outside of its walls.