“Wonderful Counselor”


 

This is a light-hearted picture. This is not a light-hearted post.

One may think we’re alright
But we need pills to sleep at night
We need lies to make it through the day
We’re not okay

— The Perishers, “Pills”

I mentioned a while back that I’ve been taking a counseling class. I’ve been meaning to expound on that.

After last week’s class, I really felt like I needed to.

This is something I’ve been interested in for a while. If I had the means and time and dedication to go back to school, I would love to earn a degree in mental/behavioral health and be able to work in that field.

So when I saw that Heather’s church was offering a counseling class on Wednesday nights, it was sort of something that I had to do.

The class is being offered through Light University (which is apparently basically a continuing education  program of Liberty University) and, after a number of semester-length classes, culminates in participants earning a certificate from the American Association of Christian Counselors.

It’s not “real”counseling licensure, and I have no illusion that it is, but it could be used for church counseling, and will provide me with some formal training and background in the field. Flint River is interested in working on establishing a stronger counseling service, and it’s possible I could be involved in that after finishing the program.

It’s going to be a long process, and I’m still at the very beginning of it. But I’m excited about starting.

I’ve long had an interest in the field. My ex-wife worked as a counselor and social worker, and over the years I picked up both a little knowledge and interest from her. I’ve done some reading on the subject myself, and have been seeing a counselor myself on and off for about two years, so have connections in several ways.

My ex-wife had experience on both sides of the fence as well, both working as a behavioral health professional, and seeing professionals to help with her own issues. During our marriage, there were times when I felt like it was my role to sort of keep her duct-taped together so that she could help other people. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one or the few. It reached a point, however, when I felt like she presented more a potential danger than benefit, and it was no longer my job to keep her duct-taped enough to do that.

I very much like the idea, however, of being able to work with others myself to help fill that void. And I like the idea of being able to help people deal with things like she was struggling with; things that, because we were married, that we both had to struggle with. I would love nothing more than to make those struggles easier for other people than they were for us, and possibly to help them find a happier ending.

Last week was very much a wake-up call along those lines, however.

The first couple of sessions of the class were just breezy for me. I went in to them with enough of a background that I felt pretty comfortable with everything that was being discussed. Not really anything I hadn’t heard before.

And then, in the latter half of last week’s session, came the video on dealing with victims of sexual abuse.

I mentioned on here yesterday that those had been issues in my marriage, along with addiction issues. My ex-wife’s story is not mine to tell, but I don’t think she hid the fact that she had been abused as a child, in pretty much every way a child could be — physically, emotionally, sexually.

The class stopped being breezy. I cried. Pretty much the entire time.

I knew about her past before we even started dating. I understood nothing. I had no clue.

I was sheltered and naive. Utterly unequipped to be what she needed.

I’ve wondered several times if I had known then the things I know now, if things could have been different. Could I have helped her better? Could I have made things better for her? Could I have been a boon instead of a burden?

Or would I have run instead of dealing with it?

Someone made a comment along the class that it’s just a problem like any other problem. That’s true, to an extent.

Other than the fact that it’s completely false.

It’s insidious. It’s not one thing. It’s everything.

What did we deal with because of that “one problem”? Trust issues. Self-esteem issues. Eating disorders. Mental health issues. Addiction issues. Self-harm. Medical problems. Relationship issues. On and on and on. The better question is what part of her life did it not touch? And, by extension, what part of my life did it not touch?

Twelve years ago I was too naive to know what I was getting into. Today, it’s overwhelming. Could I help someone in that situation? Could I even try to work with someone in that situation?

It’s scary.

The thing I have to remind myself is that I’m just at the beginning of this process. I don’t have to confront it tomorrow. There’s a lot more training to go through first. A lot more preparation.

But my confidence has been shaken. And that’s probably a good thing, right? That’s the whole point of Christian counseling. I don’t help anybody. I just help be a catalyst for God to help them. And I’m certainly willing to see where I wouldn’t be the person helping anyone in that situation.

Father, help me.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. — Isaiah 9:6