I attended a Christian Women's Conference this year and as we were getting coffee for morning tea, recognised a previous patient. She recognised me at the same time, recoiled and turned her back to me.
I was not surprised. She had left my rooms a year previously on the back of a difficult consultation where I had said that she needed to be serious about her addictions, tell me the truth and not just what she thought I wanted to hear. We had had a number of consultations, including talk about Christian things, but it had felt like a veneer rather than a desire for any deep change. So it was the Holy Spirit's leading in this difficult confrontation, where I had given her the option of continuing to work with me, but with honesty and trust, or seeing someone else who might be able to offer her more. And that was the last I saw of her. Till now.
During the lunch break, she came to seek me out. She said that she had been taken aback when she had seen me, since she knew that she had left me feeling furious and she had never apologised or let me know what had happened. When I had first seen her, she was establishing herself in a new city after leaving her abusive husband, had no job and was floundering. Somewhere along the way I had suggested that she call Christians Against Poverty (CAP) to get her finances and her alcohol addiction in order. She had not wanted to make any real change in her circumstances, so had not bothered.
She explained that that consultation was the turning point for her. She had previously always been able to manipulate people to like her and to be 'on side', and she did not like that I had called her out on it. After that fateful challenge she contacted CAP and with their help, and that of a local church, was able to get her life and finances back on track and renew her relationship with God. Things were not all rosy, and were still somewhat hard, but she had been able to re-establish relationships with her teenage children, her mum and her sister, and start some more enduring relationships with people in the local church.
Sometimes the Spirit's leading is a hard road to take. Sometimes you can feel like a failure when the situation seems to worsen. But God is in charge of the big picture and we are only a small part of the journey for all those who pass through our rooms. The glory is in His hands, even when we never see the end result. I am grateful for His grace in giving me a glimpse of His endwork.