Editors note: This post is written by Krista Lambert who counsels for Biblical Counseling Center. In this series, we are featuring articles written by the women of the Biblical Counseling Center, talking about how God has shaped them for their ministry of biblical counseling. Krista shares how God has shaped her through struggle and how that enables the ministry she now has towards others.
It’s funny, isn’t it, the stereotypes we cling to? Multiple stereotypes exist within the counseling world. As a Biblical counselor I face not just those stereotypes, but also those which exist for people in ministry–those that say I must be as wise as Solomon, as concise and authoritative as the Apostle Paul, and as perfect as Jesus for God to use me.
When a counselee comes to me with the assumption that is who they will meet, what logically follows is the assumption that I will judge them, that I cannot possibly understand what they are going through, and that all I will offer is a Scriptural form of textbook answers concisely packaged to suit their brand of struggle.
What I hope people find instead is that I am a broken person, just as they are, and desperately in need of my Savior. I hope they see that any good in me is a testimony of His goodness and faithfulness. I hope they, as C.S. Lewis said, “Think of me as a fellow patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advice.”
I was the child of a parent from a legalistic, patriarchal religious belief system that emotionally abused its adherents. My parents marriage was a storm, filled with nights crying myself to sleep while they screamed and yelled. They separated and began the divorce process when I was 7.
The night my mother drove away with our belongings in laundry baskets and I found myself sleeping on a relative’s couch was the night I first cried out to the God I had heard about in Sunday School, and somehow knew could hold me through the painful situation.
Childhood was unstable, going back and forth between two vastly different homes, pulled between a desire to earn the love of two vastly different parents. At age 12 I was repeatedly sexually abused by a stepfather, fortunately finding solace and stability within a church youth group. I didn’t disclose the abuse and begin to face healing until my senior year of high school.
Determined that God could use my mess for good, I went to Bible college as a counseling major, but there was a craving in my heart for Biblical knowledge, and I was disillusioned by workshops on medication and classes on psychological techniques. I changed schools and changed my major to theology.
I married at 19, a man who, while having struggled with drugs and pornography addiction in his past, had the “picture perfect” family my heart craved. I had to believe he had changed and was the Prince Charming who could give me a perfect family, too, the one I had never experienced as a child. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered his walk with God was phony and fake, carefully constructed to gain the approval of his family, and under the surface he continued to violate our marriage with pornography and extramarital activities, through multiple failed ministry positions and the births of 3 children.
Finally, he dropped out of seminary, then out of ministry, and went full-time into the Army. As soon as he arrived in Afghanistan for his first deployment he emailed me to tell me he was filing for divorce. I discovered he had been having an affair for over a year.
I had been exposed to Biblical counseling through an ACBC counselor who attended the church we had been in prior to his joining the Army. I called her, and she gave me wisdom to help me through that season, and connected me to a counselor in my area. Biblical counseling was a lifeline, connecting me to practical, yet Biblical, help, encouragement, and wisdom.
Overcoming My Stereotype
I didn’t believe God could use me anymore with the big scarlet letter of divorce across my forehead, but slowly He began to heal and restore my heart, not just from the rejection of adultery and heartbreak of a broken marriage and dreams, but from my past, as well–the hurt of my parents’ divorce, the wounds of sexual and emotional abuse.
As a single mother I started a daycare in my home so that I could be there for my own children as much as possible while still supporting them financially. I went back to school online, working at night and naptimes. At first I wanted to pursue a secular degree that would just pay the bills, but I realized that more than ever the call to counseling burned in my heart. If God could redeem and use the broken pasts and stories of men and women of Scripture, could He possibly use mine?
God began to send encouragers to build me up and help me start to dream new and different dreams, God-sized dreams. I remarried, and my new husband urged me to close my daycare and work part-time so I could take classes full-time. Eventually, I completed my bachelor’s degree, a Biblical Counseling certification, and finally, a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling from a seminary, unfathomable to me, as I had always thought my ex-husband would be the one with the seminary degree.
My seminary graduation was a full 20 years after that first foray into college with those dreams of being a counselor. Twenty years in which God shaped me into a completely different person and yet simultaneously restored me to the person He had created me to be all along. He allowed me to overcome the stereotypes that should have defined a child of a broken home, the product of abuse, the divorcee, the single mom.
How You Can Overcome Your Stereotype
The heart of my ministry is found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
I am astounded at God’s goodness each time I realize a different story of something I walked through has not only been redeemed for me, but is being used to point someone else to comfort, to redemption, to hope.
How might God be calling you to allow Him to redeem your own story?
If you feel inadequate, remember Paul, who said he was “the worst of sinners,” and that God’s power was “perfected in his weakness.” Remember that he wrote most of the letters that inspire us today from prison. If you feel judged by outward appearances, remember Esther, who was seen as a mere object, and yet was called “for such a time as this.” If you feel it’s too late, remember Joseph, who waited years for the dreams God had given him to be fulfilled. Overcome the stereotypes that you’ve allowed to define you and your calling, and let God define your potential instead.
I am wife to an awesome man and mom to three exceptional boys that we are raising in the Chicagoland suburbs. I love to counsel women, families, children and teens and share with them my experience in finding God faithful. I counsel in BCC’s Schaumburg office and via Skype. Learn More.