Ellen’s Story

“This should not have happened,” Ellen said to me, and I didn’t disagree, because it made no sense that she was scornfully tossed aside by her husband of twenty-three years for someone he met at work.   I had been seeing her for four months, helping her through the stages of grief following the loss of her marriage.  Ellen was a survivor, a strong person who refused to waste her life living as a victim.  Her former husband was addicted to drugs and sex.

“I gave that scoundrel my heart and soul; we raised a wonderful daughter and son.  I gave up a career and stood by him all the way for all those years.”  She was fuming, sitting in my office, eyes burning with homicidal rage and righteous indignation.  Then she did something I didn’t expect.  She laughed.

“And you know, I should have seen it coming,” she mused.  “Before me, all his relationships were pitifully unstable.  Just before we got engaged he told me, ‘You’re different from the others, Ellen.  You wouldn’t desert me like they did.’  And he was right—I never would have. ”

In those four months Ellen had screamed and swore and cried and by this time had recovered her self-esteem.  It was perfectly absurd that she was tossed aside when she had such a golden heart. Yet, the Grace bestowed on her was her children.  She told me that bringing them into the world was more than compensation for her disappointing marriage, which she survived.  She would remarry, this time to a wonderful man who was truly worthy of her.  I believe many times people overcome profound traumas and tragedies through mystical events of Grace and Mercy.

God’s Mercy imbues a special kind of meaning to anything.  In fact, in ordinary human experience, when we choose to inject the God into a story or event, it often elevates it to the extraordinary.  “God, I can’t believe that actually happened to you!” is exclaimed without consciously thinking about God, but nonetheless God belongs in the mix of ideas somehow, because there’s something mysteriously wonderful or amazing about those special, mystical events.

You may have a very vague, almost non-existent and even unflattering concept of God; yet the word “God” will promote itself in our minds in these numinous experiences of life.

“God, that was close!  An anvil dropped down out of nowhere and almost flattened me!” is a statement that raises getting that close to death, but yet somehow eluding it, to something incredible or miraculous.

Those kinds of situations I have re-worked from real cases with real people I have treated to share with you, my reader.  I hope you will add your own stories of life’s miracles to them as we go.  And if you haven’t had a miracle happen to you lately, if you need one, they are available to you, because no one is excluded from God’s amazing Grace and Mercy.

3 thoughts on “Grace and Mercy in Therapy

  1. I have witnessed a miracle recently. My daughter has been addicted to heroin for almost ten years. About three years ago she began using “research chemicals”, in particular a drug which was very similar to meth amphetamine. She was horribly affected both physically and mentally, and the services that dealt with her put her high on their priority list. A lot of people went to a lot of trouble to keep her alive, but she continued to deteriorate. The police and drugs services tried to get her sectioned for her protection, but our mental health services refuse to care for addicts even when there organs are collapsing.
    I wrote about her in a few posts, and my online friends and followers started praying for her, and sending her messages of love. One friend in particular told me in on uncertain terms that she would recover. He prayed for her every night, and as he prayed his tumours shrank – he was terminally ill with an aggressive form of cancer.
    I slowly saw an improvement in Laura. It started with a clear desire to recover, then she stopped using crystal, then gave up her methods of obtaining money for her habit and cut down her use.
    I made friends with the brother of one of my neighbours, who lives 100 miles away, but often visits my neighbour. This man has empathy for addicts, and had taken two addicts into his home in the past, and successfully supported them through recovery. He’d often seen Laura walking or staggering past the window when he was visiting, and his heat went out to her. When he found out she was my daughter he said that if she ever wanted a safe place to recover, she could live in his house, and he would give her lots of activities to keep her mind busy. I wanted to talk to her about it, but knew from past experience that I had to pick my moment carefully.
    On 8th March she was beaten up by her boyfriend, who tried to kill her. My landlords had banned her from my home, and she had caused a lot of problems everywhere she went, so she was homeless). She came to me, and I took her in even though I knew I could get thrown out for it – what else would a mother do? The police took a statement and the paramedics patched her up. She stayed the night, and the next day I told her of my friend’s proposal. She jumped at it.
    Laura’s been clean for 3 months. She’s learning to drive and to look after my friend’s horses, and she’s also fulfilling an almost lifelong dream – to learn motor mechanics. I have NEVER seen her so well or happy. She was an angry and confused child. While still in her teens she was taken as a sex slave by her boss, and as an adult her life has been horrific.
    When she went into recovery, Anton, the blogger who had such faith in her, messaged me to say how grateful he is to Laura and me, for keeping him alive. Since then he has melted away. His blog is inactive and I don’t hear from him. I’ll never forget him. The miracle of Grace began with him.
    I wish you lived in my town. I have four children. My only son is also an addict.

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  2. I very much appreciated your “Grace and Mercy in Therapy.” As a spiritual director I often refer directees to counselors who come from a faith perspective. While therapy can teach us why we behave in certain ways, such insight is necessary but not sufficient (to use philosophical nomenclature). What is needed at deeper level is “Grace and Mercy” which are transformative.
    Blessings on your ministry.
    -Deacon Jim McFadden
    Fair Oaks, CA

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    1. Dear Jim,
      I very much appreciate your comment on “Grace and Mercy in Therapy.” I’m preparing to post another article or essay, or “think piece.” So, you are a spiritual director in Fair Oaks, CA. How splendid, because I had a marvelous time doing a play in Fair Oaks, at The Fair Oaks Shakespeare Festival, a production of “As You Like It.” I lived in CA for most of my life, before moving with my wife to Wisconsin in 2006. I’ve built a good practice here by the Grace of God. I’m close to retirement, just a few years more. So, thank you for the encouraging remarks! People have all of a sudden started to take notice of my blog, which is gratifying. Keep in touch!
      Blessings on your ministry in Fair Oaks!
      – Ron Houssaye
      Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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