By Laurie Davies
Brave Women Series - Laurie's Story
I walked in from getting registered for fifth grade, and panic flooded my 1,400-square-foot home. The recliner was gone. Half of the Corelle dishes—the ones with the simple snowflake garland pattern—were gone.
My dad was gone.
Words like divorce and custody quickly entered my vocabulary. Lying in bed that night, I reached down to rewind my cassette-tape player over and over to play the only song I knew that had the word prayer in it—an aching song about a one-night stand by Duran Duran.
I didn’t pick up on the innuendo. But the word “pray”, sung repeatedly in the chorus, sounded good to my 11-year-old heart. “God if you’re real, I need help,” I prayed. I cried myself to sleep.
"The word “pray” sounded good to my 11-year-old heart. “God if you’re real, I need help,” I prayed. I cried myself to sleep."
I thought that must be what dying felt like. Turns out it was only fear. I got up and walked to school the next day. I think I even tried out for the band.
Sometimes prayers hang suspended, seemingly unanswered for a long time. David wrote earnest prayers for safety and deliverance during the ten long years he hid in caves from a jealous king who was trying to kill him.
Sarah waited ninety years—years marked by shame, bad problem-solving, irrationality, and longing—for the fulfillment of her heart. A child.
And thirty-five years after singing a boy band’s lyrics and telling God I needed help, there I sat. In the reception area of a counselor’s office. There was no panic here, except maybe in my racing heart. I glanced at the door to the outside and thought about making a break for it. The counselor opened her office door, smiled warmly, and called me back.
Walking into her office is the bravest thing I’ve ever done.
Session after session, I cried and processed my way through pain and rejection that had been bottled up for decades. It wasn’t just fallout from “The Day Dad Left,” as I had dubbed it in my adolescent journal with the combination lock. It was fallout from the fallout. And my heart, as it turned out, had a much more complex series of locks.
"Walking into her office is the bravest thing I’ve ever done. I cried and processed my way through pain and rejection that had been bottled up for decades... And my heart, as it turned out, had a much more complex series of locks."
At first, it felt silly to admit I was in counseling. I had been walking with Jesus for many years. I had led youth groups and Bible studies and Sunday morning worship sets. But I’d kept my feelings of worthlessness “off-limits”, even to Jesus. Imagine. I’d tried to keep the hard stuff from the One who would move mountains or part seas or hang on a cross for me.
"I’d kept my feelings of worthlessness “off-limits”, even to Jesus. Imagine. I’d tried to keep the hard stuff from the One who would move mountains or part seas or hang on a cross for me."
The first time I read these words from the Prophet Isaiah, I wept. My counselor asked me to read them out loud:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you …
When you walk through the fire
You will not be burned …
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
And because I love you.”
(Isaiah 43: 1-2, 4 NIV)
I didn’t know Jesus back when I was a kid, but He knew me. When the bottom fell out of my life, He heard my rough-cut prayer and caught my tears. I think He probably cried, too.
"I didn’t know Jesus back when I was a kid, but He knew me. When the bottom fell out of my life, He heard my rough-cut prayer and caught my tears. I think He probably cried, too."
He knew things would get worse before they got better and I would try to outrun the whole mess. I would try out for the band, hit the snot out of softballs, make the Dean’s List, and become a workaholic.
He also knew that one day He would plant a flag of ministry in those tender places of pain that I tried to cover up with busyness and achievements.
But first, when the time was right, He made me brave enough to cross the threshold of a counselor’s office. Week after week, my counselor helped me capture a vision that I could be free.
"He made me brave enough to cross the threshold of a counselor’s office. Week after week, my counselor helped me capture a vision that I could be free."
Thankfully mental healthcare is getting a better rap these days. The stigma is falling away. People understand that a busted-up heart can hurt just as much as a busted-up knee.
But it still takes all kinds of courage to walk into a counselor’s office, lower your guard, and say something like, “I need help.”
Today, as a lay counselor, I serve people who are hurting. I never miss an opportunity to tell a client: “I think you’re brave for coming in today. I’m really proud of you.” They usually tear up. They almost never think they’re being brave.
But bravery can limp just as much as it can roar.
"Bravery can limp just as much as it can roar."
I have found that being brave can be just whimpering out a prayer to God and trusting Him to help. Sometimes, like David when he fought Goliath, we run quickly toward the battle. Other times we’re curled up in a ball.
Either way, a prayer for help never goes unheard. The God “who could bear Israel’s misery no longer” (Judges 10:16) is moved when we come to Him in prayer. He loves us. And He’ll help us sort things out.
Even if it takes a little time.
"The God “who could bear Israel’s misery no longer” is moved when we come to Him in prayer. He loves us. And He’ll help us sort things out. Even if it takes a little time."
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story. And by the way...
You are Brave!
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Laurie Davies is a writer, speaker, lay counselor, and ministry leader in the Phoenix area. She has been writing since her advanced composition teacher told her in 1989 that she broke too many rules.
She delights in helping women live “hands-free,” setting down the emotional baggage that God didn’t ask them to carry. Her work has been featured in Guideposts, and Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she currently serves as lead editor on Shaunti Feldhahn’s Atlanta-based ministry team. She lives in Mesa, Ariz., with her husband of 27 years and their adorable puppy Pearl. Their adult son just graduated from college (so, she just got a massive raise) and he makes his home nearby.