• Jess

Angels are Sometimes Named Larry


I stared at the floor, not making eye contact with either of the men in the room. All I could do was focus on my breathing… trying so hard not to lose it.

Inside my head, the conversation was going something like this:

“It’s come to this - we’re in marriage counseling. I don’t really want to be here because I already decided, ‘I’m DONE.’ I’ve HAD it with being married to Nic! He’s hurt me so many times these ten years we’ve been married - all the lies, betrayal, and emotional abuse. Why in the world would I want to stay?

And exactly why am I supposed to be in counseling for something that’s obviously Nic’s problem?! HOW DID I GET HERE? Why did I choose Nic?”

Bless the angel named Larry who was given the divine appointment of being our marriage counselor and trauma therapist. The further removed we are from that season of intensive therapy, the more I know without a doubt God put THAT MAN at that exact moment in our lives. God knew we needed his wisdom, patience, insight, and H E L P to get over ourselves and wake up.

Larry has the gentlest face, most velvety voice, and kindest eyes of any grown man I’ve ever known. His whole heart has been given to Jesus - this was how I knew I was safe around him (which was very hard for me to feel, based on my track record with males I was ‘supposed’ to be able to trust). White hair atop a slightly wrinkled face, bright white smile, and a hearty laugh are what greeted me every time I attended an hourly session. At first I dreaded these sessions, but by the end of our time together, I actually found myself looking forward to those emotional hours of healing and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

As I attended my individual sessions with Larry (on a biweekly basis), Nic was also attending his own sessions with Larry. This worked really well for our situation as Larry had context for what we were both feeling and experiencing through the process. Larry was able to meet Nic where he was (as an addict) while also meeting me where I was (as a codependent, betrayal-traumatized spouse). He had extreme empathy and compassion for each of us, and yet he challenged us to own our choices and take responsibility for our actions.

If you’ll remember from the beginning of this post, I mentioned how I was considerably less than thrilled to be going to counseling for Nic’s problem. That was my attitude for the first couple sessions… until I realized just how emotionally damaged and HURT I was. I needed help, too! And that didn’t make me at all weak. If anything, I think I was finally beginning to understand what Paul was writing to the Corinthians when he said:

But [Jesus] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. - II Corinthians 12:9

I didn’t need to act ‘tough’ or ‘strong’ in order to heal and get better. What I needed to do was surrender all my pride, anger, bitterness, and pain to the Healer who could take it away. What I needed was belief in a real, active, living faith again. I needed Jesus to take my hand and carry me through the process - which is exactly what He did through His friend, Larry.

The only way to be fully healed of what ails you - anger, bitterness, rage, jealousy, envy, pride - is to LAY IT DOWN at the feet of Jesus. This is the gospel. This is why He died for me and for you. When we choose to be ‘tough’ and ‘strong’ and not ask for the help we know we need, we’re not helping ANYONE (especially not ourselves!). But admitting we’re weak and in need of help is exactly when Jesus has the opportunity to step in and CARRY THOSE BURDENS FOR US.

But He can’t step in and begin the healing process if you don’t let Him.

Do you know the story of Naaman in the Bible? It’s basically about this really important guy (Nay-uh-muhn) who comes down with an awful, flesh-eating disease called leprosy. Through a series of events, he finds out about a prophet named Elisha who lives nearby. He asks Elisha what he should do to make his leprosy go away. Elisha tells him to go dip in the Jordan river 7 times… and he would be healed.

Easy peasy!

But Naaman does not like Elisha’s response. Naaman initially refuses to ‘stoop to that level’ of going to dip himself in the nasty Jordan river. ‘Doesn’t Elisha know who I am??’ If he did, he wouldn’t have asked Naaman to do such a lowly thing. Elisha would have known to perform a grand ceremony that pointed to the significance of Naaman and his rank.

This is where it gets interesting.

Naaman’s servants persuade him to try the remedy of dipping 7 times in the River Jordan. Once he does, the scripture says “his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.” WOW!

Once Naaman chose to remove his prideful spirit and simply obey, his sickness was washed away.

Let’s not let this moment pass without letting that fully sink in. Once he chose to remove his prideful spirit and simply obey, his sickness was washed away. And this is the key.

When we choose to let God work it out, when we surrender to His will (not ours), when we admit we NEED THE BLOOD OF JESUS, He’s then able to take our burdens and our sins and our trials and He WASHES THEM AWAY.

All we have to do is surrender to the process and obey.

Back to my counseling with Larry. I didn’t realize in the moment, but this was the process I was walking through with my counseling that summer and fall of 2017. I was slowly and steadily trusting Jesus with the sin in my heart by admitting how wrong and prideful I’d been. And because of that, Jesus was able to heal my heart and help me let go of all that hurt, betrayal, and deception.

My sin was MINE. Not Nic’s. Not my family of origin’s. MINE. It was time for me to face it, own it, and lay it down. Don’t waste precious years waiting for ‘the other person to get his/her life in gear’ before you take ownership of yours. The time is NOW.

If you need help letting go of the pain you're experiencing, please use this tool to help you find a Christian counselor in your area. Specifically, if you or your spouse needs help with sexual addiction of any kind, be sure to look for these letters at the end of a counselor's name: CSAT.


©2020 by Nic & Jess Gardner