Congratulations! You’ve decided to begin the process of working through your heart’s hurt and healing your soul. Yet, when we initiate a counseling journey, we don’t realize how exhausting the process can be. Somewhere between the treatment plan and goal, we find ourselves exhausted and ready to check out. We can wonder if it’s worth it to:

  • Keep appointments.
  • Do the self-examination work.
  • Ask the challenging questions.
  • Negotiate the coping.
  • Cultivate peace with the change.

You can have greater hope for navigating therapy’s messy middle with the tips below.

The case for counseling.

Doubtless, there will be times when it’s difficult to remember why we started this journey in the first place. That’s when we need to pause and rest. Those are the times when we need to revisit our past briefly, remembering what it was like before, and thereby, remind ourselves why it needs to be different. Those are the times when we need to encourage ourselves with hope around what our realities can be or what we imagined that they should.

As believers in God, our definition of faith is predicated upon hope. We hold space for hope to eventually experience something different and better, the kind of reality that is worth our persistence.

Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1, NASB 2020

It isn’t that we’re putting faith in the process itself, but rather placing faith in the One who authors the process. Christ alone is our Anchor and He’s the One able to stabilize us, even in the storms of searching and healing our hearts.

He is the One to hold us firmly, when what we encounter in haunting memories, limiting beliefs, flashbacks and triggers present themselves on the canvas of everyday life. As we navigate what hurts, we learn to embrace what helps. Our hope in Christ fuels us to receive reality that He has always imagined and that we are now discovering.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Hebrews 6:19, NIV

Exhaustion is common. In fact, we all experience it as we are in route from one place to another. It is not only true in faith and life, but also in our therapeutic journeys. We may feel overwhelmed and more aware of the upheaval that mental and emotional wholeness work requires.

Without encouragement and support along our journey’s checkpoints, we may likely stop and relegate ourselves to the way things once were. Depending on our individual circumstances and proclivities, the way we were at one time could pose dangerous possibilities.

However, Christ set us free, and not for us to return to the familiarity of the past. In fact, scripture arms us with the ability to avoid becoming entangled again with the yoke of bondage. It empowers us to stand firm in liberty, but we need to learn what that looks like in a practical sense.

We may need to consider a few spiritual and practical principles to undergird our hope and to anchor us in times of fatigue. We need that hope in Christ to settle and to establish us, so that even as we press forward, we also rest in him. Hope fuels that journey, giving us something to connect our faith to and believe, even when we are wilderness weary.

The importance of rest.

Although it is a paradox, it is essential and possible to rest in Christ while also reaching for what he has for us to attain. The resting is in the finished work that Jesus has already completed. We need to align our thoughts and words around what He’s settled in heaven for us, relying on Him as we walk out the process of good and godly change. We can ask, and the Holy Spirit will guide us to passages that will build our faith and endurance for the journey that lies ahead.

The reach or pressing is in following the Holy Spirit’s prompting. He leads and guides us into all truth, illuminating the Word of God in our hearts as we consider the practical steps of the path we are on and where we are to go. We rest in Christ, but we reach continually for the new and next that He is drawing us into.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12, NIV

The middle can get messy when we’re on the way to the next place of purpose and destiny, even within our mental and emotional health journey. We’ve all experienced a desert of sorts in between the place of our affliction and our promised land. Jesus said He would be with us and through it all, He will never abandon us.

As the Alpha and Omega of our lives, He promises that He will be present until the very end of the age. Not only is He the One that has started a good work in us, He will also perform it until it’s complete until we encounter Him face to face.

Reach within

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6, ESV

Allow that truth to permeate your soul and rest your mind. Reset your expectation of what therapy can be. Issues and patterns that have accumulated over the years don’t usually disappear overnight. God is patiently at work in and through us to bring about what He placed in us before time began.

The Holy Spirit teaches, but He also equips us to unlearn and dismantle the structures and systems that have impeded our progress to this point. Partnering with a counselor is integral to this process, especially where our limiting beliefs and learned behaviors have produced dysfunction and cycles of pain.

While the changes we experience may reveal the miraculous, differences are observed in the transformation that occurs. Heart and life shifts require that we reach, not only for the Person of the Holy Spirit within. We also must reach for the selves we have hidden under our difficulty and pain. We must summon the courage, effort, and intention to partner with the Holy Spirit, our support people, and our counselors for the future and hope beyond our present circumstance.

Reach out for help.

Gather a circle of support. Consider the safe people in your life, whether they are found among family, friends, or those in your faith community. Reach out to those who will allow you to stretch into the self that God predestined, even when that version of self is different from the “you” they have always known.

As you contact the ones toward whom the Spirit nudges you, share your heart’s desire for their support through your counseling journey. You don’t have to force yourself or your needs on anyone, but rather welcome the Holy Spirit to forge a deeper alliance and connection, based on trust and authenticity.

Next steps.

While you are seeking to begin or may have already initiated a therapeutic journey, it is essential for you to communicate with your counselor. Share the range of your thoughts and feelings, remaining open to new strategies that he or she may want to implement as you work collaboratively toward treatment goals.

Although you may be tempted to retract to the old shape of your heart and find respite by cancelling appointments and avoiding the issues that emerge from your inner self, the Lord is with you in all of your process. He cheers you forward, knowing that you don’t want to sabotage your outcomes or halt your progress.

Rest your mind, refresh your perspective, and reach in and out with new strength. You’ve come too far to retreat now. The future you both deserve and desire is being forged in this, even the messy middle of your therapeutic journey.

“Compass”, Courtesy of Anastasia Petrova,, CC0 License; “Map Reading”, Courtesy of Jean-Frederic Fortier,, CC0 License; “Lighthouse”, Courtesy of William Bout,, CC0 License; “Maps”, Courtesy of Andrew Neel,, CC0 License