How God Changed my Life Through Biblical Counseling
I love God’s Word and how it applies straight to our daily lives. Two of my favorite verses in the Bible are Psalm 119:71 and 72, that say, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”
My name is Larissa and I am a Brazilian, currently living in the city of Fortaleza. English is not my first language, but I am grateful to the Lord that I understand English and can write this testimony today.
I am also thankful for the times God allowed me to be afflicted. He used the moments of suffering through my life to draw me closer to Him. In fact, God saved me in one of those moments.
I grew up in a non-Christian home, but when I was around 11 years old, a friend from school invited me to church. It was a church where the Bible was not very well taught. They would talk a lot about the things they believed God was supposed to give us, but they never taught about our condition as sinners. Even though the teaching was not very good, it was there where I had my first contact with a Bible. At that time, I learned that God had written a book and I could find instructions for life in that book. I also learned that there was only one true God and that I had to worship only Him. I learned some things about God but nothing about myself. I did not understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My parents were against me going to church and, as I was a child, I had no choice but to stop attending church. I lived away from God through my youth and as the book of Judges says about Israel, I lived doing what was “right in my own eyes”(Judg. 21:25).
Living for myself brought me a lot of suffering. When I was around 19 years old I had depression, panic attacks, and a food disorder. I tried many things to escape those problems but nothing seemed to work. I went to psychologists, to psychotropic medications, and tried many diets, but the pain in my soul did not disappear. I improved somewhat while taking medications, but after some time I would start feeling depressed again. At that time I had no idea that the Bible could offer me the answers I needed.
In 2001, I moved to another city in Brazil and it was then that God brought me, for the first time, to the end of myself. Life in the new city was hard. I got sick, my parents got divorced, and I had no job. I met my husband (boyfriend at that time) at the University and we started living together. Our relationship was not good and, looking back, we know that we only stayed together because of God’s mercy and grace.
In 2008, I started working with a friend that is a Christian. Through that friendship my husband came to know the Lord and we started attending church; but I did not understand the Gospel of Jesus yet at that time. In my mind, I as just going back to the habit of attending church, as “good people” do.
After listening to our story, the pastor from the church we were attending explained to me and to my boyfriend (husband now) that we needed to get married because God did not approve of the way we were living together. We were married in 2008, but soon started having problems in our marriage.
In 2010, my marriage was practically over. I was depressed again and I did not know what to do. Once more, God took me to the end of myself and it was the best thing that happened in my life. It was then that I understood the Gospel of Jesus. I understood that I was a sinner and I needed Jesus Christ desperately. I cried out to Him, prayed, and repented of my sins and He saved me. My heart was transformed by that experience.
I then asked my husband for forgiveness because I was destroying our marriage. Proverbs 14:1 says, “the wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down”. I was the foolish one, but I repented. My husband forgave me and we decided it was time for us to start a family. We had been living together for nine years already by that time.
We started trying to have children, but I was still depressed. I went to a psychiatrist and she said she could not give me drugs because I was trying to get pregnant. I felt desperate because my hope was in the medicine to help me feel better. I talked to a friend and she told me about a biblical counseling conference that would start in some weeks. I had never heard about biblical counseling, but I had no other choices. I decided to attend the conference.
It was the first year of the ABCB (Brazilian Association of Biblical Counselors) Conference in my city (2010). I fell in love with biblical counseling during that conference. I was so amazed that God had answers for all my non-organic problems. When the conference ended, I called the leaders and said that I wanted to serve them in some way. I wanted to help with organizing the conference every year and I wanted to study more to be a teacher one day. It was like a very distant dream, but one I was really excited about.
Since that first conference, I became involved in the organization of the event that happens once a year in my city. During that time, I found out that I had a health problem and could not have children. It was a hard time for me and I suffered a lot, but once more God taught me a valuable lesson; “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness”(2 Cor. 12:9).
God transformed my heart and being infertile is not a problem in my life anymore. God’s grace is sufficient for me. God showed me that I could be a mother, even if I did not have children of my own. I began counseling people in my church, and through this ministry God gave me many children, for which I am so grateful.
In 2013, Pastor Steve Viars told me that I could do a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree at Faith Bible Seminary in Lafayette, Indiana, without needing to live there. It was amazing news for me, and in the following year I started the program. I could write volumes with all I learned in that program. During the MABC, I decided to give up my career as a life coach and company consultant so that I could serve as a biblical counselor and teacher full time. I exchanged a well-paying job for one in which I work for free, and I have never felt happier in my whole life.
In 2018, I finished my MABC degree and God has been giving me many opportunities to teach biblical counseling in Brazil. I visit churches around Brazil teaching about depression, anxiety, femininity, and many other topics for women. The thesis that I wrote in the MABC program became a book about intimacy in marriage that will be released in Brazil this year. I also teach at the ABCB conference about the role of the wife, infertility, and eating disorders. My distant dream is now my real life.
It is because of all these things that I am grateful for hard times in my life. God has comforted me and now has given me the opportunity to comfort others with the comfort that He gave me (2 Cor. 1:4). To God be all the glory.