We often don't want to feel pain. Instead, we want to do everything we can to avoid it. But in order to avoid pain we have to avoid deep relationships, avoid any relationship where we would give or receive deep love. We would have to avoid deep friendships, avoid marriage, maybe even avoid having children. Would this really achieve the goal though? Would we avoid pain altogether or would we just feel a different type of pain? A pain from not knowing love, not knowing what we were made for: to love and be loved. We may think that if we experience deep relationship that we will in turn relive the pain we endured in our past or that we will feel the pain that we fear. So instead we make decisions, we set up defenses that limit the amount of emotions we will feel. The less entangled we get with someone, the less pain we might have to endure. If we choose not to give too much to another, and choose not to accept anything real and deep from another, then we'll be safe from the pain.

But there's something there, someOne there pushing us towards deeper relationship...towards being known and knowing others intimately. We are pushed towards it because relationship is what we were made for: deep, intimate relationship with Our Creator. We allow fear to step in and we think that staying in or getting into deep relationship means that for the rest of our lives we're vulnerable to deep pain. We want to avoid that and so we defend against it with attempts at "controlling" situations and relationships around us. We may even walk away from people or situations that would call us into deeper relationship for fear that pain will exist there. And often, pain does exist there. But if we are avoiding feeling pain, we often are not vulnerable to experiencing deep love.

We try to control our lives such that we will avoid feeling pain but something beckons us to choose relationship with others. So we walk through the fear and walk towards relationship. But then the pain comes and we feel foolish for choosing that deep relationship because we worked so hard at defending against the pain. Yet amidst relationship, even through pain there is healing, restoration and the experience of a deeper love. When we walk through it we are not alone and there's the deepest intimacy waiting for us and even walking us through. The Lord is there amidst the deep pain. We just have to choose to let go of our defenses, trust Him and keep walking.

Counseling can be a vessel to help us identify our defenses, our fears, and ways we defend against pain in our lives. It can also help us to identify things that keep us from deeper, more intimate relationships with God and with others.