In 2011, my life and everything I thought was my life began to crumble. It was during that time that my friend recommended taking classes at New Haven. I was amazed at the biblical teaching while I took their Discipleship classes. I learned on a deeper level about God’s love, His forgiveness, His life in me, it started to break through the mask that was my life. I started seeing a counselor there and instead of trying to “fix” me, they walked me into a deeper relationship with God. Over the next 3 years, God worked and I tentatively started to respond to Him in little ways.

Then in 2014, my marriage in shambles, my 11 years of staying home with my kids coming to an end, friends being revealed as untrustworthy, and my financial situation unstable. Everything ripped apart. After a while, I started getting the advice of just get over it and move on. I went back to New Haven and they said process everything you think and feel with God. The only way to get over deep hurt is with Him. I began the slow and painful process of letting God break me of my dependence on others and this world and walk me into a set foundation of Him. It was during this time that I became employed at New Haven. I was amazed as He build my life up again with Godly, loving, coworkers turned friends that accepted me as I was, not as I “should” be. They accepted me in my despair as well as in my hope. As I worked at New Haven as their receptionist, God reawakened a dream in me that I had years ago. I had received my Bachelor of Science in Psychology in college with a goal of becoming a counselor. With life’s twists and turns that dream never became a reality. But as in everything, God’s perfect timing is just that…perfect. Through taking classes through New Haven and shadowing the other counselors (sitting in with them as they counselor), I am now able to take on my own client’s. I didn’t have to go through pain to become a counselor, I had to go through pain to be humbled enough to realize I don’t have all the answers and never will. To be able to walk beside others, to share their pain and to be able to relate to what they are experiencing. New Haven’s counseling is just that, walking beside others as we point them back to God, to their Creator, to the One who knows them better because He made every member of their being.

I could not enjoy anything.  The anxiety and depression, which had always been a close companion, was overwhelming me and pulling me into places that I didn’t want to go.  I had experienced grief before, but never like this.  In my past I had gone to psychologists, therapists and counselors, but this time nothing was working.  I was getting advice that didn’t feel right.  I no longer enjoyed anything, and everything was a huge effort.  Despair held me down and pushed me deeper into a chasm that I could never climb out of.

Recently I had lost my mother.  Mom and I had a very complicated relationship growing up, but because of God working in and on hearts much of our negative past had fallen away.  We were far from perfect, and we were still healing in many ways, but we truly enjoyed spending time together.  She lived life with us. She participated in the every day.  She was the first person I called with heartaches or praises.  The day she passed away, she was supposed to call me after her nap.  I am so blessed that my very last memory is telling her I loved her.  She never called that day because earth could no longer hold her.

Suddenly, the person who gave me all of my advice, was no longer there when I called.  Not only that, but I was suddenly the decision maker.  The daughter, sister, granddaughter, mother who needed to make the decisions for those around me.  Funerals are definitely for the living, because the extreme busyness of that time is all that kept me putting one foot in front of the other.  After the funeral was over, there was still more, and my person was no longer there.  Figuring out the ‘after’ of life is so strange.   Life put on paper, with dates signifying the beginning and the end, never tells even the beginning of the story.

I found out about New Haven through a friend who was telling me about this class she had signed up for.  What does “Biblical Discipleship” even mean?  I was intrigued and went online to look it up.  I read about the class and signed up instantly.  It wasn’t even a decision I made, I was suddenly just hitting enter and I was enrolled.  A few days later I received a call confirming and letting me know about the dates and times of the class.  I heard that the counseling was different than traditional counseling, and knew God was providing me a safe place.  I asked to also be seen for biblical counseling, not really sure what I was getting into, but knowing there was more than the world was telling me there was.  I had no idea what this journey was about to bring for me.

I did not ask Jesus into my heart as a child.  I was 24 years old before I knew of a loving God.  This is so alarming because I had grown up going to church every Sunday.  I had prayers, hymns, and bible verses memorized.  I knew the stories and heard of the miracles, but I didn’t know my Father.  It is amazing because now when I look back, I realize how He was lovingly leading me.  I went to, even searched out, and welcomed the darkness.  I pushed him away and delved into the exact opposite of what He wants for us.  Yet, HE held me.  HE protected me, and pulled me to Him, no matter what my rebellion looked like.

While I did welcome him into my heart, I still really relied on myself and others around me to meet my needs.  I have so many lies that I have believed in the past, and still do.  I relied on myself to work harder, do better, and earn my way out of any problems.  Around 6 years ago I had a wakeup call.  I realized that life was becoming more than I could handle.  I didn’t want to keep going, living was too hard.  I was too tired.  I was too broken.  I began to go to Him, begging for miracles.  Not miracles that can be seen but can be felt in your heart.  I knew there was more and I started to search.  I realized, through scripture and prayer, that I could listen!  He was waiting for me to listen!!!

When I began attending class, I thought I knew.   I knew my Savior, I knew my God, I knew my Father. I already felt very connected and treasured…but there was so much holding me back.  There is still so much holding me back, and I still don’t know!  I believe we never really know until that day we run into his arms.  I do know I am loved.  I am unequivocally, totally, intimately, in an all-consuming way loved by my Abba Father.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.” John 15:9

I have so far left to go.  More than I can even imagine.  New Haven points me in the direction that matters eternally.  It is exactly as its name says.  It is a NEW HAVEN.  A safe place that lets you know more about yourself, more than you even know is possible.  It gives you a new perspective, a new outlook and a new hope.

After being told my husband was cheating on me, a friend put me in touch with New Haven Ministries. My first call was answered with such concern; all I could do was cry. The counselors there have spent the past year and a half listening, guiding and helping me find out who I really am. Little by little God has been growing me and I learn to depend upon Him each day. He has given me a joy that I cannot explain but I know comes from Him. With the help of New Haven I am learning to make decisions and have found peace and joy in the Lord. Thank you God for helping me find them.

I’m grateful for the ground work that was laid for me at New Haven, through counseling and classes. Difficult circumstances brought me there, but God used it for good (through all of you) giving me tools to begin my own personal journey of faith.

“I think you might benefit from seeing a counselor,” my boss told me as I took another bite from my bagel. We were on a break at work, and she was being candid with me. I didn’t really know how to respond, so shocked by the comment, that the only thing I could muster out of my mouth was, “Where would you suggest?”

Looking back at that moment, I know I am extremely fortunate to work with someone who cares deeply about my personal spiritual life, but I did not feel that way right away. I was embarrassed to have hit a point in my life where everyone else around me could tell I wasn’t doing well. My husband and I had recently moved to Sioux Falls, both started a new job, bought our first house and had our first child on the way. The things I used to turn to for comfort and a sense of control – friends, family, a clean house, a predictable pattern to my life – had all in one swoop been taken away. The anxiety and depression I had struggled on and off with most of my life really bubbled up, and quickly spilled over. There were many moments in that season that I spent alone in the bathroom, at work or home, crying, feeling so overwhelmed by life.

I was introduced to Jesus going into my sophomore year of college. That moment had caused much change in my life, and it was a true joy getting to know Him. Yet, eight years later, He still felt so distant in those moments of anxiety and depression. It was confusing to understand what that meant for me and my relationship with him.

As per my boss’ suggestion, I started seeing a counselor at New Haven Ministries shortly after our conversation. Much to my surprise, she wasn’t just some lady in a chair with a pencil taking notes on me, she is someone who loves the Lord and cares deeply about my relationship with Him. She has helped me to see lies I am believing about God and myself. She has given me assignments, prayers to replace lies and speak truth, and just general encouragement to keep seeking Him, keep talking to Him, keep letting Him in. I have learned that I need to be aware of expectations I place on myself and others, and that God meets the needs in my life for worth and belonging. I’m learning to see God as present in all things in my life, even the anxiety and depression, as well as to separate my feelings from what the Word says is actually true of me and God.

Counseling has been a consistent place to go to be pointed back to God, to have truth spoken to me, and to be encouraged. I am so thankful for her, as well as New Haven Ministries. God placed it in my life at just the right moment.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6

I wanted to say thank you for all you have done. While my home life has not improved much, my life in Christ has. And that changes everything. I wanted to thank you for your kindness and voice of reason in one of my darker times. I can honestly say, were it not for New Haven, I would not be alive today. Keep up the good fight, you have no idea the impact you have.