Growing through a Global Pandemic

I’d imagined what my final year of graduate school would look like for quite some time. but experiencing a global health pandemic in the middle of my field internship was not quite on my radar. I ‘d envisioned what it would be like to start developing rapport with my own individual clients, imagined the nerves that would come from finally applying all I had learned over my years of schooling, and prepared for feelings of inadequacy or inexperience as I entered the counseling field for the first time. Regardless, I didn’t foresee the events that have transpired over the past few months, nor the change they would have on the way I interact and work with individuals. Thankfully, the team at Beacon of Hope refused to let the physical closure of our offices be more than a temporary barrier to doing the work that’s even more crucial in these unprecedented times. Even without access to our offices, we still had clients, we still had counselors, and we still had the Holy Spirit driving us harder than ever. Within a short time, we were blessed to be able to utilize telehealth services to still provide our clients with counseling and, more importantly, connection in a time where isolation felt like the safest option. The shift to phone and video services was foreign to me, but I was grateful to have the opportunity to continue safely connecting with clients.

Throughout my time as an intern at Beacon of Hope, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of leading and co-leading group therapy for our clients who are working diligently to navigate parole and probation. Thankfully, due to telehealth services, we’ve been able to continue providing this group opportunity throughout the physical shutdowns. While I feel as though I learn something new or take something valuable from every group session, something that was said in a recent session felt especially profound. The topic of discussion was change and growth and the discomfort that often accompanies both. During this conversation, the following words caught my attention and really caused me to think.

“Growth is supposed to hurt. When we grow as children, we experience growing pains. If it’s uncomfortable, you know something is changing”

Maybe it’s the visual learner in me, but this image of growing pains shifted my perspective. When we grow and develop physically, we often experience discomfort and even pain. We feel it in our joints, bones, and muscles. We give ourselves grace and understanding because we acknowledge that this aching is a part of the process and is a sign of change. But what about when we change or grow mentally, emotionally, or spiritually? Do we hold this same patience and grace?

When I reflect on my own journey for personal growth, often the most painful and uncomfortable changes have been ones I’ve had to make internally. Learning to set boundaries within my personal relationships, admitting when I’m wrong or need help, accepting responsibility and accountability, learning new communication styles, adapting to new and uncharted situations; all of these have been areas of development that have arisen throughout my internship experience, and each has come with its own unique growing pain. Each new step of growth has felt as foreign, awkward, and uncomfortable as my changing body did in childhood. The physical development of my body may have slowed, but my soul is still growing, changing, and evolving. Just as I gave grace and understanding to my aching bones, I am working to give grace to my soul as I navigate this new growth as well. Yes, it is uncomfortable. Yes, it sometimes hurts. But what once would have felt like a warning sign has now shifted to a signal that something greater is coming. Just as God has a plan for our bodies, God has a plan for our souls, and there’s no greater comfort than that.

Emily began her internship in November by working with our parole and probation groups and serving as an intake counselor; in January, she began seeing ongoing clients. She loves working with kids and teens and loves the variety of people she gets to work with her. When not at the office, Emily enjoys spending time with her family and going to concerts and on road trips with her boyfriend.

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