On the outside all looked peachy. A great husband, two girls, vibrant and busy in an under-four-kind-of-way, a master's in education, and the good looks of Jennifer Aniston. She read her Bible daily and went to church. Inside she hurt terribly. She didn't know who to tell.
The women at church had it all together. Or so it seemed.
If we stop and look, we each will see hurting women in our churches. These women need spiritual CPR: care, prayer and repair. Here at Counselors Coach you get ideas and support to counsel the women the Lord has put in your life. If you have a specific question, email me at Lucy@LucyAnnMoll.com.
These hurting Christian women are "sheep" who have fallen down, a "very pathetic sight," writes Philip Keller in A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. "Lying on its back, its feet in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to stand up, without success. Sometimes it will bleat a little for help, but generally, it lies there lashing about in frightened frustration."
Who is the fallen lady sheep in your congregation?
She is the woman going through a divorce, the mom with a rebellious teen who may be deep into drugs or sleeping around or shoplifting. She's the woman whose husband is out or work or whose parents have dementia and need continual care or who past is riddled with unresolved hurts from the past. Her hurt may be abuse by a neighbor boy, an abortion, or an emotional affair with a co-worker who showed her more attention than her husband. She may be depressed or angry or afraid -- or all three.
The list is endless.
Have you seen her? Of course you have. Hurting women are in every church. Do you want to take the chance to help her. It won't be easy.
Years ago, God gave me the passion to help hurting women who hurt. This passion led to my seminary studies to learn pastoral care to women. It led me to counsel women at my church with the Word. Later, I began counseling hurting women whom I met through Twitter and founded Real Hope Biblical eCounseling.
I never expected to counsel women across the United States. My feelings are mixed-up sadness and awe. Sad because these wonderful women could not find help in their own churches and because they hurt so, so much. Awe, well, because God chose me to help. Apart from him, I can do nothing.
Since you're reading this, chances are God wants you to minister to a hurting woman in your church. Ask God to reveal her name to you and listen. He will. You may need to wait. Just keep listening.
Then you can give her spiritual CPR: Care, Prayer and Repair.
Step One: Care
What does spiritual care look like? First we need to notice the injured. You did this when you asked God to reveal a name to you. You are open to seeing her and helping her.
Then stop. This is what the Good Samaritan did (Luke 10:30-37). You remember the story. On the road to Jericho, a man was beaten by robbers and left for dead. A priest saw him and walked on by. So did the next Jew. When a Samaritan (considered a despicable "half-breed" to Jews) saw him, he stopped and helped.
Next meet her immediate needs. Does she need groceries or diapers for her baby? Could she use a ride to a doctor's appointment? What about help figuring out which bill to pay next? Most important, listen to her pain. Listening is essential. As she talks and you listen, her healing will begin. But listening is only the beginning.
Step Two: Prayer
Pray to our Lord Jesus, the Great Physician. Tell him her needs and yours. Of course, he already knows. Praying will increase your connection to him and to the hurting woman. Ask him for wisdom concerning your next steps. The Holy Spirit will guide you. Believe this. He wants you to experience his peace.
"I am leaving you with a gift -- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid" (John 14:27 NLT).
Step Three: Repair
Now identify the hurting woman's real pain. First ask her what her problem is. What she says is the problem may only be an aspect of it. For example, when I asked Marianne, mentioned at the top, why she felt sad, she said she missed being in the workplace. Her real issue was much deeper; it involved believing God will never reject her.
Pay attention to what she says and her tone. Does she complain? Does she say everything is fine when it obviously is not? Is she afraid? Of what? Does she seem depressed? Has she had a medical exam recently? Some problem that seem emotionally rooted are physical. An example: Hypothyroidism (a metabolic disorder) causes depression; when on proper medication for her thyroid, the depression goes away.
Does she have junk from her childhood? The death of a loved one, her parents' divorce, a trauma like rape? Any of these can affect her today if. Also consider any sinful patterns: gossip, unforgiveness, worry, addiction and so on. Lovingly and directly ask her about such sins. Is she willing to repent and seek restoration from the Lord, who will heal her?
When Marianne and I shared iced tea in her backyard while our children played, she talked and I listened -- a lot. I learned she had two major life transitions: she was newer to our community and she had left a job she loved. We talked many more times. Once she realized that these transitions -- and her fear of rejection -- had led to her mild depression she stopped fretting. She joined a moms' group at church and contributed her gifts of leadership and drama.
God had not abandoned her as she feared. He brought her a friend who listened and cared. He provided direction through the Bible. Most of all, he gave her Jesus.