When I began my studies in the Master of Counseling program, I entered with some reservation and fears that the study of psychology would somehow pull me away from God. The opposite has occurred. Good science simply reveals what the creator of the universe has put in motion. For example, evidence-based research has revealed that the neuropathways of the brain are able to heal and change and contemplative prayer enables this change. I am fully able to use the theories and approaches that align with God’s wisdom and follow his always present and creative leading.
I am proud to bring my foundation of life experiences and learning to my work as a counseling intern at Beacon of Hope. But, paradoxically, when I experience this sense of pride, it evokes humility. How can that be? How can pride and humility co-exist in a positive, growth-oriented way? This is possible only when our deepest pleasures and passions are rooted in the knowledge that our calling and vocation are lovingly and generously given and enabled by God. My confidence and pride are rooted in God and his character and promises, not in myself. How do I know this to be true? How do I know that I am following my vocation and my calling? Frederick Beuchner, in his book, The Hungering Dark, wrote:
“We should go with our lives where we most need to go and where we are most needed. Where we most need to go. Maybe that means that the voice we should listen to most as we choose a vocation is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness.”
I agree with Beuchner. Zephaniah 3:17 reveals that God “takes great delight in you” and “he will rejoice over you with singing.” God is glad in his delight and rejoicing over me, and I shall continue to follow his voice of gladness in the calling that he is granted me.
In a few months, I will be submitting my application to the State of Michigan for my professional license. While that application will be a significant, celebratory part of the journey in the unfolding of my calling, it is not the most significant. The most significant part of the journey has been learning to discern God’s leading and waiting on Him – sometimes patiently with faith and other times impatiently with doubt. Isn’t that part of the common experience of humanity? That is why God calls each of us to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thess 5:11). And that is the daily and moment-by-moment privilege and gladness of serving God as a counselor!
However, knowing the gladness of my calling doesn’t mean I’ll never experience my own pain, nor encounter the pain of others. In fact, my calling is to encourage and support others who are experiencing loneliness, loss, grief, despair, self-doubt, broken relationships, fear and anxiety, and hopelessness. Alone, I am not able. God calls and enables me in this as he leads me and as he brings others to encourage and guide me. Only God the Father is wise as he moves in our lives through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Only God is the “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). I am convinced that a counselor’s relationship with God is essential to her practice. Only God can bring the healing, change, and growth that is true and lasting. That is why I practice contemplative and listening prayer alone and with others who welcome this. God makes himself available to everyone at all times. God desires that everyone experience his gentle leading. God calls each of us to encourage others with reminders that Jesus’ goodness, wisdom and love always bring hope, and “he is the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Rom. 15:4; Eph. 1:8-9, 23).
It’s my privilege to sit with others, in God’s presence, so they may experience his love as he guides and leads them. And as I meet with clients weekly, I never lose sight of a couple of truths that maintain my compassion and hope for the hurting person. First, God is timeless; therefore, there is nothing in our past, present, or future that is beyond his loving reach. Second, it takes tremendous courage to begin and continue counseling for the purpose of healing and change. In 2011, as I witnessed both the courage and the pain of someone I was ministering to. I prayed for him, and then wrote the following in my journal:
Each time you look into the anxious face of a broken person, wait – wait for His voice. The God “of glory” will surprise you. As you pray with another, together you navigate the twists and turns, choppy waters, storms, dense forest, dark caves filled with demons, deep pits, and deserts – ugly places that do not feel safe and where pain, fear, and shame overwhelm. Receive his strength and ask, “What next, Lord? “ You will hear his “powerful”, “majestic” voice that calms the choppy waters and the storms; lights the path in the dense forest; makes the demons flee from the caves; and “shakes the desert” (Ps. 29). His voice guides and illuminates the way to the ladder that has always been within inches of your feet inside the deep, dark pit (Ps. 119:105). His voice is a light and a guide that points the way to the streams in the desert (Isa. 43:19). His voice overcomes the lies with his truth and beauty. No one knows how the mystical and faithful Father heals, but those who have experienced and witnessed his healing also bear witness to the power of his voice! He brings peace and new life. He is (Ex. 3:14). You are (Ps. 139:13-16). That is all that I know, Lord. You are. And here I am. How do you want to use me today?
Rae Lynn has interned at Beacon of Hope since January, 2018. She enjoys working with clients who struggle with anxiety and mood disorders, complicated grief, attachment issues, and survivors of trauma. When not in the office, Rae Lynn enjoys connecting with loved ones over good food and music, wondering flea markets and thrift stores, and listening to birds.