Pulling Me Out of the Pit

Today I introduce you to Jennifer. She says, "I love to write, and I recently started a blog called “Hope of Glory”, a name which holds a special meaning for me. Hope of Glory was a 1970′s-era Christian rock band; it was at one of their concerts that Jesus pulled me, a 17-year-old mess, from the darkness that I had been living in and began to work in my life. He has made beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). I minister to women who struggle with the same types of things that enslaved me for so long: addictions, childhood sexual abuse, personal trauma, and domestic violence. I feel a special calling from the Lord to minister to those who suffer from the grief and shame of a past abortion. My life is proof that “all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)."

“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7

This passage of scripture can be troubling because it seems to say that God will punish children for the things that their parents choose to do, but isn’t it simply the truth of the way things work in our fallen world?

I grew up in what modern psychologists would call a ‘dysfunctional family’. Both of my parents drank alcohol on a daily basis, starting when they got home from work and continuing until bedtime; they were ‘functional alcoholics’. It never occurred to me that other families might behave differently, because the environment that a person grows up in becomes her definition of normal, and this was mine. We attended church until I was about eleven years old, but I had no conception of who God is. Church was just a place we went once a week because that’s what people were supposed to do. When my much older brother disclosed that he was homosexual, my parents began a long slide into depression and isolation. The year was 1969 and the culture was very different. My parents chose to close themselves off from family and friends, and to cover up my brother’s life choices by lying to anyone who asked about him. I was required to do the same, thus setting up a very deep-seated stronghold of fear and shame in my life (“…visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children…”).

When I entered high school,  my own sinful choices began to take root in my heart. I remember quite deliberately deciding that I would stop being a ‘good girl’ and become a part of the ‘cool’ crowd, the would-be hippies who used drugs and drank. I was terrified that my friends would find out about my family, and I believed that this other crowd would not care even if they did. I can look back and see God’s protection very clearly, because I did some very foolish and dangerous things.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 16:25

Modern psychologists would probably say that I was coping with my feelings of shame, that I was numbing my pain, or self-medicating, with drugs and alcohol. Had I ever been taken to a therapist, I probably would have been given multiple DSM diagnoses, prescribed various psychotropic medications to control my symptoms, and all of my problems would have been blamed on my ‘family system’. There was a time when I resented my parents for not taking me to a counselor; now I see it as the hand of God working in my life, shielding me before I even knew Him.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

I finally came to the end of myself in 1974 and Jesus met me where I was. From that point forward, God began to work in my life and, little by little, I began to trust Him. Today I marvel at the way that God has redeemed my life in spite of my past, and at the way He is working in the lives of my children and grandchildren. Although I continue to struggle and to make sinful choices, He is faithful. Fear, which is really unbelief, is still my greatest battle but now I know that the battle belongs to Him, not to me. I pray for faith to trust Him more, to believe Him more, and to more fully grasp the promises in His word.

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

As a counselor, I worked briefly in a secular Community Mental Health facility which was rich in man’s knowledge but denied the only way to true healing, Christ. I counsel biblically now, and as I walk beside my counselees through their struggles, my prayer is that they will see the same mercy and grace that has been freely given to me by Christ. He pulled me out of a pit that was so deep and so dark that all I can do is fall on my knees and praise Him, offering back to Him the life that He redeemed to be used for His glory.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

My name is Jennifer Miller. I live in gorgeous northeast TN near the Smoky Mountains, where my husband and I ran a small business for over 26 years. We have three sons, ranging in age from 16 to 30, and three grandchildren. When we closed our business in 2007, I returned to school to complete my Bachelors Degree in Child and Youth Development and went on to obtain my Masters Degree in Professional Counseling. Upon graduation, I worked briefly in a secular agency doing group and individual therapy with women struggling with addiction. I did not last long in that setting, because it is only through Christ that true healing and freedom is found. I am now a biblical counselor, working towards certification from the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC). I facilitate classes for members of my church in lay counseling and am prayerfully waiting for God to open a door into a full-time counseling ministry. In the meantime, I do Specialized Crisis Counseling with at risk children and youth on a PRN basis.