~ A Few Important Lessons I Have Learned Along The Way ~ Part I
Faith without it you cannot please God!
A Few IMPORTANT Lessons I Have LEARNED Along the Way
Years ago when I took my counseling internship, I took it in an office in the comfortable ritzy suburbs. The other portion in the homeless shelters with torn apart families, separated couples, displaced veterans, hurting people some traumatized with a multiplicity of issues and with battered and abused women. One of the shelters was in the suburbs right behind both a Mercedes Benz and Cadillac luxury car dealerships located in a vacated armory. One was located way out of the way, down across by and over on the other side of the railroad tracks in the city. One located amidst a commercial business park. What was so interesting only in the case of extreme emergency could the residents stay in the shelters during the day. They had to be out rain or shine first thing in the morning. In the suburbs they could not linger anywhere near or close to the luxury dealerships. They of course did not want their potential customers disturbed in any way by the homeless…
There was such a contrast in the various environments but not really in the overall personality dynamics. Hurting people exist in every walk of life no matter how much one might have or does not have! At the time my counseling supervisor was not too enthused about coming to the shelter at first… To be honest my home church at the time was not very receptive as well. They did not really want a lot of the homeless being brought there for counseling. No concern for worry because I went to them and eventually they set me up with a nice quaint little office… Initially the university wondered if maybe, or perhaps the environment would be a bit too harsh and…
It was here I learned the significant value of healthy boundaries as well as “One Spot” therapy! Which is a onetime counseling session. One spot simply means that when a person knows that they may have perhaps one opportunity to talk to you, and will probably not see you again. Once open they will say to you what has been stored up for years! I have heard the unimaginable... I learned to really trust the Lord during my many volunteer hours. It helped me to appreciate the value of not assuming or if you do to be readily willing to release any stereotypes. I learned here the true meaning of “ministry beyond the walls.”
There is much spiritual warfare that takes place when you reach out to help those who are tormented and in much pain. Sometimes It means just giving them a genuine healthy hug or not hugging at all. Everyone does not have good boundaries... Sometimes a good firm look is required. There are times that anger may be projected upon you! Sometimes caring means not reacting but responding patiently… I also accompanied several clients (this is what they called the residents) on occasion along with a guard, who were 5150 sectioned to the hospital to help relieve a client who at times experienced extreme anxiety and sometimes considered volatile. This requires that you are able to stay centered. 5150 Meaning they had been put under involuntary mandatory psychiatric confinement for observation for 72 hours to determine their mental state!
It is here I also learned that I naturally empathize. My concern literally drained me. My growing trust in God helped immensely and sharpened my discernment. Whenever or wherever you are in a large group where emotions are high it is a good to amp up your discernment. Discernment is a precious "GIFT" from the Lord. My husband is also very protective of me ( in a good way) because of this. Not everyone has good self control... This is also true when in worship services. I have had to intervene on many occasions. Healthy boundaries are necessary! I learned that through my trust in God; it was what kept me safe. I was not fearful but cautious. I so had to depend on the Lord for direction in a totally non spiritual environment! Gradually the doors opened more and more… Although I was learning the required psychology and sharpening my skills on the art of counseling, I learned that it took my God in my life to really help me help them. You see the Lord always knows our intents and motivations. I Thank Him daily for setting me FREE! There is a huge difference between Christian and secular counseling!
The Lord had blessed us greatly at the time, my husband and I had a successful Professional IT Consulting Corp with many Professional Consultants… We Also had four children in college and one in Middle school at one time… We together have traveled extensively around the world, my husband was also a well seasoned multi- talented Minister of Music… we both had also been in Church all of our lives and I had worked in just about every department… We both had been raised in the city and had moved to the suburbs now for quite some time ... We with our family faithfully still continued to commute back and forth to attend worship services and… This all served to give me a wide range of exposure to numerous varied facets of life. From, urban, rural to suburban there is a diversity of differences in the way people live, socialize, work and worship. I knew the Lord’s call on my life at an early age and Ministry in Pastoral Counseling was my continued path of discovery…
It is important to KEEP in mind, God really does know what is going on. If you are sincerely interested in the counselee or whoever it is He will and can make a bridge between you and the counselee. Yet, you are only a small part of the healing process. There were a lot of politics that took place in the shelter. Some of the residents became territorial. I settled disputes between the staff and residents. I counseled and prayed with both staff and residents. Together we planned transitional strategies, the staff worked many arduous hours and hard long days. This further helped me with the counselees that lived safely tucked away in their own various homes as well! I learned that nothing anywhere in this world that anyone does, or says gets by the Lord! There is absolutely nothing that happens that He is not aware of! What matters most is our intimate personal relationship with the LORD! GOD KNOWS EXACTLY who we all are, where each of us are or where we are lacking...
Ultimately TRUE inner HEALING comes from GOD!
I was required to study many of the psychology theories and its founding fathers. There is much knowledge here. But, there are many concepts and theories in psychology that go against Christian principles. For example at the time I had to study the DSM-IV > Which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders. It is what is known as the “Psychiatric Bible. It serves to broaden one’s knowledge on clinical language and facilitates diagnosis. Which may require psychotropic interventions… One refers here, in order to professionally label or should I say make a clinical diagnosis. This can at times I believe somewhat hinder one seeing the uniqueness of the individual and often rules out the spiritual element of their character... The DSM-IV actually contains a plethora of information on hundreds of possible mental disorders! A Psychiatrist is both a Medical Doctor MD who is a specialist in mental disorders they can prescribe medications that Psychologists cannot.
As a Pastoral Counselor/Minister, I was required to have a relative understanding of the process… We as well in our practicum had lessons on evaluating many of the characters in the Bible as well and seeing how they could have possibly been perceived? KNOW this; most of the time they would have been unfavorable labeled by this criteria… Most would be thought of as a bit strange and some with mental disabilities, unloving, not kind, aloof, uncaring or severely depressed.... .I had to know about secular counseling methods to a degree, but my interest was in the spiritual aspect and how it serves to bring about “wholeness!” God can fill the void in one’s life like no other! I saw it time after time in the shelter. I also realized that many do not subscribe, respect, nor care to prescribe to this belief, nor believe in the Bible! Nor do they want you to tell them otherwise.
Being a Minister is not just a position that one turns on and off. It is a facet of our everyday lifestyle that requires us to constantly seek our LORD for direction in and about the public, in private as well as during worship... In some places of worship the clergy can be very territorial. The plethora of denominations vary in what they perceive to be proper protocol. There is no need to compete for attention or position when there are others present or who are assigned to step up to a task at hand. Some have many clergy members but only a select few can do certain things? I truly believe that the LORD recognizes and knows who we are wherever we are. You can sit in the pulpit, back, middle, front or side. What HE is most interested in is the posture of our hearts. It is not really always about what one sees you do...One must simply invoke and invite the infilling presence of HIS HOLY SPIRIT within us & all around us, as well as and PRAY for the good of all present!
One must PRAY for DISCERNMENT due to the abundance of laxity in moral boundaries. There is a tendency for some to misinterpret one's actions. I am thankful to have experienced many diverse types of worship. Some very quiet and serene, some inclusive of moments of quietness & loud joyful merriment, some simply entertaining & and some very loud & just boisterous... One must strive to find a balance. Most important one must be led by he Spirit and "Worship the LORD in SPIRIT & in TRUTH!"
There is a constant change in the world as to what is right? For one, I can remember when homosexuality was considered taboo! Now, it is no longer considered by the American Medical Profession to be abnormal? We are able to see the results of what massive societal pressure can do. Now it has “come out of the closet” Now since it is so prevalent within our society it is now known and supported as “an alternative lifestyle.” This is quite interesting because, if you do not agree you can be considered to be homophobic if you are not somewhat supportive? If that is your choice, it’s your choice. But I believe all the Bible and I do not believe that it should be considered the same as Marriage which was designed by God. God’s view has not changed! Marriage in the eyes of God is HOLY MATRIMONY! Marriage in the eyes of God is sacred! What I find interesting that now many want to have the same rights and privileges as marriage because of their sexual preference.
Now the Supreme Court has even voted against the WORD of GOD and in favor of "same sex unions" I personally find this disturbing. If this is your choice call it what it is “an alternative relationship” of the same sex. If you are not in agreement you can be considered judgmental and uncaring and…. I am "PRO MARRIAGE" GOD'S WAY! I also believe that this compromises our Christian Values however I realize that we all must answer to the Lord for our choices... Just wait because pretty soon we are all going to be forced to accommodate "same sex unions" above our Christian beliefs... We have come a long way… But have we really? Just something to really think about!
It is important to know that a lot of the original research for evaluations in psychology did not include taking into consideration the cultural differences nor spiritual beliefs of many People of Color. So where you might be just being polite, patient and considerate it may be perceived as being distant somewhat aloof and unconcerned, or even passive… Where you might be disciplined and exercising self control, you may be thought of as mechanical or distant.... If you speak confidently and fearlessly you could be considered delusional or arrogant! If you talk about God too much you may also be a considered a religious fanatic… Quite often there are many undercover tactics used to divide and conquer as well within the midst of many minorities. This is a result of labeling and racial profiling… This still continues today.
On another note; I also find it quite interesting the mass shooting that took place a while back on the military base at Fort Hood in Texas. Where a military trained Psychiatrist Nidal Hasan massacred many of his fellow soldiers! They were in a soldier readiness facility where the troops being deployed to both Iraq & Afghanistan received their last medical checkups? What about the World Trade Center bombings where so many lives were taken? Have you noticed the many senseless shootings and incidents regarding guns in our schools that have since occurred? Need I remind you of the bombings at the Boston marathon where so many were hurt? What about the horrific senseless shooting that resulted in the death of nine people during Bible Study. This happened after a confused young man sat with them during Bible Study for over an hour in North Carolina then proceeds to kill them... And oh so many more tragedies that continue to occur... All this has caused much fear and insecurity to dismantle our normal systems of life. Terrorism comes in many forms. The spiritual warfare has heightened! We must daily seek refuge in the Lord. It is important to spend time daily in His Word. The Lord can and will impart His Peace to you!
The acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case caused many eyebrows to raise! How can a grown man who was told not to get out out a vehicle; do so anyway, then shoot and kill an unarmed seventeen year old teenage boy with a gun that he should not have been carrying on neighborhood watch and be found not guilty? He had a choice he could have secured his car by locking the doors and keeping the windows closed until "help" came! Just perhaps Trayvon Martin would still be living? Let us not forget the death of Michael Brown & Eric Garner and the many others... This is sheer madness no wonder so many are outraged! The lines of justice have once again continue to have been blurred.
Stress management is important and needed regardless of who you are. No matter what station one reaches in life balance is always key! Extensive training does not mean that you are immune to anxiety, impulsive behavior and pressure! In my counseling practicum I was required to study and know to a degree what others believe that are non Christians. I therefore studied a multiplicity of religions. There are many many religions… The beliefs of many differ greatly! This is also why the spiritual side needs to be addressed as to what do you believe about life, living, and how you value life! How you embrace and practice your beliefs are a huge factor in one's behavior.
Our true security rests within our relationship with the LORD! I personally BELIEVE that GOD is the GIVER and SUSTAINER of life and we do not have a right to take anyone's life just because...
Please continue on to Part 2
Important Lessons Part 2
- A Few Important Lessons I Have Learned along The Way Part 2
With God we are forever changing and can be molded in His image as long as you are willing to submit to Him. It is never too late in life for God to make a difference in your life!