Do you ever look back on a time in your life and think to yourself, “what the heck was that all about?” On Friday my new friends from Crosswalk came over, and while they set up video equipment in my living room we had coffe in my kitchen, and I told them about how I’ve landed myself in this season of life, and they didn’t know anything about me, and then I told them that I spent six years in private practice as a counselor, and I even caught myself off guard when I said it.
Six years. I spent six years in a narrow office at the end of a dark hallway that felt a little sad. I tried to keep it cheery in my corner of that building. I had a navy blue couch and yellow pillows, for some brightness, and I tried to shine light. To shine light is Jesus, to shine that light toward the person across from me in that office, the person who sat at the edge of the couch and told me the real truth about everything. About their family and about their fears. About what they hoped would happen and what didn’t happen. About that terrible thing after the homecoming dance. About deep disappointments, and about sadness, and about the things they think about at night when they try to sleep. I sat across from them and I tried to help, by nodding my head and listening well and praying, always praying my way through those 55 minutes together, praying that God would give me the right words, words that brought love and light and healing.
And I really liked it, and I didn’t leave it on purpose, it just happened that God moved me. He moved me inch by inch, so slowly that I didn’t even know it was happening, but now it is three years later and my name isn’t on that office door anymore, and I do other things, and I sometimes pull up short and think to myself, “what was that all about?”
And maybe I’m starting to understand what it’s all about, because here’s what I know I learned:
I learned that life exists in the gray. That no matter what you think you know about a person and their motives and their heart, no matter how great or how terrible you think someone is, you don’t know the whole story, and that the more you learn about the story, the more you will love them.
I learned that judgements are usually wrong, and that being tentative and slow and inquisitive is always more helpful then telling someone what to do, even when they really want you to tell them what to do.
I learned that everybody needs someone to believe in their dreams.
I learned that it might not be professional to cry with someone, but that the road to healing is sometimes paved in tears–tears of those hurt and tears of those who carry their burden with them.
I learned that God is near the brokenhearted, and he is near the honest. I learned that the Holy Spirit really is present, and he shows up when we are desperate for him, and I was usually the one desperate for him to show up, and I learned that he comes around in ways we usually don’t expect.
I learned that those you love the most really do hurt you the deepest. And that forgiveness for those people is the hardest and best thing you can do as a person.
I learned that no matter how old you are, there is still a kid in you, and that kid still needs to be carried sometimes.
I learned that most people that paid me to be their counselor didn’t need a counselor, they needed someone who had suffered a little, and healed a little, and knew that life exists in the gray.
I learned that people want someone to help them keep their faith.
I’m probably just beginning to understand what that time was all about. But one thing I know: if you listen to someone, if you carry their story, if you help them read their life, if you suspend judgment, if you choose to believe the best, you’ll probably end up loving them. And that means you’ll hurt when they hurt, you’ll rejoice when they are happy, you’ll mourn when they mourn. You’ll open your heart and sometimes the stretching will hurt, but then your heart is bigger and stronger, and that is a good thing.
Have you ever wondered about a season of your life? What have you learned?