15 Jan, 2020 Introducing New Team Member – Mental Health Expert on Fire for Jesus
Believer and mental health expert joins the team at Counter Culture Mom. Trudi Griffin shares her story and her passion for the ministry.
Hello everyone and happy new year! As Tina mentioned in her 2019 Review, Counter Culture Mom is poised for a banner decade. I’ve known and respected Tina for many years and feel blessed and honored to join her. A new believer and mental health expert joins the team! My background is very different but that makes Counter Culture Mom stronger. You can read our delightful tale here.
Although always a cheesehead, I wasn’t always a Christian. I grew up in a Catholic family, went to Catholic schools, and fulfilled my holy days of obligation. When I left for college, I left religion and spirituality behind. My home life was not idyllic, and my adolescence included a strong adversarial relationship with my stepmom. I felt a wonderful connection to church experiences when I was young. As I grew older, however, I associated the hypocrisy around me with religion which meant a full rejection of all of it. A lot has changed since then.
Back in the day
In college 1.0, my priorities revolved around partying, going to class, and working on the campus programming board. I started out booking bands on campus and eventually became president of the organization. That’s when I first met Tina. My programming experience landed me a job in the music industry, which lasted for 13 years. I met some amazing artists, managed some, and worked with agents and managers on both coasts as well as Nashville.
Around 2007 or so, the industry changed as online streaming took over. The job became more frustrating and I decided I would much rather help people. So, I went back to school (college 2.0). I got my psychology degree at UWGB and then went on to Marquette University for graduate school in counseling.
Mental health expert
My specialty areas of counseling became substance abuse, mental health, and trauma. I worked at a substance use clinic and a counseling center for sexual assault survivors. Our clients came from homeless shelters, the criminal justice system, and child services. After grad school, I flew south and ran adolescent drug treatment and drug court programs. When my husband and I married in 2012, we moved to the Dallas area where I worked for a community mental health clinic. Eventually, I opened my own practice so I could promote my services as Christian counseling without restriction.
My specialty was working with clients with difficult issues like complex trauma, mental health, and substance abuse problems all at once. I loved working with teens and kids as well as teaching adults how to play as part of healing. After moving to Green Bay in 2015, I worked in community mental health until I quit and put my skills to work as a researcher and writer.
Among the lost
The overview of my professional life might sound nice and sort of put together. During most of that time, my personal life was a mess. Up until 2010, I rejected God. During college 1.0, I was a member of the National Organization for Women and after college, became president of the Wisconsin NOW chapter. A raging feminist I was. I married my senior year of college but divorced 6 years later. Married again a few years after that and divorced less than a year later. Meanwhile, my drinking was out of control despite the lies I told myself. After my second divorce and the death of my biological mother who I met when I was 22, I realized I needed a change.
Bereft, broke, bankrupt, and on my way to grad school in a big scary city with nothing much, not even my dignity, my way wasn’t working. My two stepsisters, who my biological mother raised Christian, and my dad, were the only ones who supported me at that time. Before she died, my mom told me how Jesus changed her life, but never pushed Him on me. My sisters introduced me to Him when I was ready to listen.
A light amidst the darkness
During grad school, I studied the Bible and explored Christianity while learning why people do the things they do. One of my mentors helped me learn about trauma therapy. There wasn’t a class on it and most of the clients I saw at my internship clinic had long trauma histories. She also inspired me to look at counseling from a Christian perspective.
Not long before I finished grad school, I met my husband online through Christian Mingle. We clicked immediately. Emails progressed to phone calls and then video calls and I learned what it meant to fall in love with a man who loves God. He was recently divorced, and he had a son, so he told me that his son had to like me or we wouldn’t work. I passed inspection. We married in 2012 and I became a Griffin. Since I internet-stalked Tina, I had to tell her that I was a Griffin too now. Oh yes, what a hoot!
My husband is my real husband. He was chosen for me by God and God is part of our marriage. I strongly believe God needs to be part of marriage because I have two divorces that show what happens when He’s not. Marrying my husband also made me a stepmom. I grew up with a not-so-good one. I believe she did the best she could, but I never felt like she loved me. So I made sure my husband’s son felt loved by me and eventually, he called me his mom. That was the second happiest day of my life. I do not have my own children. In my feminist arrogance, I had the equipment turned off after my first divorce. Oh, it felt responsible and righteous at the time, but being a stepmom made me wonder so many things.
The first few years of our marriage coincided with some dark times. As my husband fought for custody of his son, we experienced the absolute worst the family court and law enforcement systems have to offer, including a harsh bias against Christian dads. Our whole family battled a corrupt court system in multiple Texas counties, but it felt amazing to be part of a Christian family who stands for each other. Amidst those storms, my husband’s grandfather who raised him passed away, and my dad passed away, both within a year of each other. But again, our family and God were there for support.
Amidst all this, I was baptized the same day as my son in September 2013. What a glorious day! I learned to lean on the Lord, and we saw evidence of His miracles and the enemy’s efforts to thwart us. Anyone who does not believe in spiritual warfare needs to contact me.
In 2015, we escaped to Wisconsin. My husband’s employer had an office here and it was home territory for me, so we figured it was a smart move. Our son loved it here and started calling himself a “Wexan” (Wisconsin Texan). However, after a year here, the storms began again. I thought my demons and bad behavior were gone because I loved Jesus, but the enemy is clever and dashed me to rock bottom. My actions would have destroyed our family if not for God and emptied myself completely before him. Not willingly at first, but the love of my husband and son was stronger than the enemy’s lies. You can read more of that story here.
Foundation on the rock
The journey to healing was hard but worth it. I finally felt whole; broken but complete. Our family came together in a beautiful new way and I felt closer to God, my husband, and my son than ever before. Meanwhile, the interstate custody court battle raged.
In the end, the courts sent our son to live with his biological mother in Texas after he’d lived with us in a loving, Christian home, for 6 years. We did everything legally possible to keep him, but again, the enemy is clever. He left at 11 years old. Now he’s 14 and we miss him terribly.
I don’t need to explain the heart-smashing pain we experienced because many of you know. My husband feels the worst of it, but his story is for another time. The only time I’d ever cried so hard was repenting before God. As we wept and held each other for the last time, our son asked me to promise to always be his mom. That is a promise I will keep forever. As child protective services drove him away, we felt a piece of ourselves die.
The next year went by in a fog. Our family supported us and we leaned on God. Just when you think the storm is over, another comes over the hill. This time we battled the Veteran’s Administration because my husband’s military injuries worsened to the point where he couldn’t work anymore. I looked for things I could do to work from home to be with him and thus found I could write from home. God is faithful and while we’ve had to make significant life adjustments, we are ok and thankful to have each other every day.
Fast forward. Our son is 14 now, but that’s all we know. The place he lives now is not a Christian home. We pray for him all the time – our only, but most powerful weapon. In my heart, he will always be my son and we trust that God will work all things out in time. My husband remains retired and I developed a little writing and sewing business. We’ve found a kind of peace, the kind that only comes from God and it’s time for the Lord to do a new thing.
And then I reconnected with Tina.
To say I’m thrilled about joining Counter Culture Mom is an understatement! God’s timing is always perfect.
In addition to my personal and professional experiences, I will share my newfound love of all things geek, nerd, and pop culture. My husband was a gamer and comics fan back when games were invented and comics came printed on paper. He taught me a lot and I became an avid fan. He and his son gamed together before we met and then they both taught me to love games, both electronic and tabletop. Not only did I join in the fun, but I learned how to use pop culture in therapy with kids and adults.
There’s a lot of bad press out there about games. A lot of it is true, but there are also positive things about them and positive ways to manage them. I’m a huge Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Ahsoka Tano fan with a budding super-heroine collection. I also love applying Christian principles to popular media and finding the Christian themes in unlikely stories.
Although I no longer practice as a therapist, I keep up my credentials as a mental health expert. I read and research voraciously, what I present to you will be supported by research and faith. My fervent belief is that the world needs more Jesus. I think that would improve mental health significantly, but I also know it’s not that simple. Therefore, I will use my experience as a therapist, wife, stepmom, nonbeliever, and born-again Christian to provide informed commentary and recommendations on pop culture and its effects on our kids.
Together, we can help the next generation combat the lies that popular media wants them to believe and teach them to reach their potential in Christ!
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