Six years ago.
Today is the beginning of the end. This is the first day of class of my last term in my masters in counseling. In 9 weeks I will graduate and complete this degree. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!!
These last six years have been some of the hardest years of my life. Not because of this education… this education was one of the very few constants in my life over these years.
I have learned much about myself, my wife, the resiliency of my children, what authentic community feels like, the pain of losing jobs, the difficulty of financial ruin, the anguish of mental breakdown, and most importantly the unending love of my savior for me.
I also learned about the healing of restoration, the excitement of redemption and the joy of emerging on the other side of intense pain & difficulty.
By the grace of God I have emerged victorious against my foes.
There is a sense of accomplishment that goes along with getting to this place in my life… but honestly, it isn’t the kind of feeling of accomplishment you might expect. I am proud of myself, but more than anything I am proud of the God who has gotten me through.
When I began this journey, this masters degree, I honestly wasn’t sure why I started it. I didn’t really want to be a counselor. I would have rathered an MSW (Master’s of Social Work)… I felt as though this was more up my alley and have continued to profess that over the course of 6 years. Each time reassuring myself when I complete this degree it will certainly help me in ministry. I no longer feel this way exclusively. It will help in ministry, but it also fits me very well. I enjoy counseling (actually I enjoy being on both sides of the couch, but that’s for another time) and believe I make a good counselor. I listen well. I have good insight. I offer sound, wise advice. I certainly have experienced my own pain in a way that is meaningful to others and in a way that resonates with them. I can help others because of what I have experienced. I am a better father and husband because of what I have experienced. I am more humble because of what I have experienced.
I have learned more than I can put into words about myself. One thing I have certainly learned is I am able to accomplish something. Over the last six years, more times than I care to recount, I have felt like a failure. I am not a failure.
Quite the opposite is true.
I am a Champion.
Today, I lift the head of the giant and celebrate my defiance. But the Lord is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, With an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten. (Jeremiah 20:11 NASB)
Today is the beginning of the end.
As I sit down to put the finishing touches on classwork for my internship class, I find it easier to let my mind wander in an accelerated manner. My thoughts aren’t quite racing per se… but as my dad used to strongly encourage me and my bro as children, I wish my thoughts would stop ‘flitting around and light somewhere’. I realize my thoughts vacillate between wrapping up this course and the last 2 I have left to have earned a master’s degree, my church ministry, my internship where I am counseling clients, my family (both wife & kids and bro/sis(es)/mom/dad), impending employment at conclusion of grad school,the numerous blog post ideas I have been sitting on for months, my desire to publish a book, our search to buy a house this summer and the slight indigestion I have from that burger I ate at lunch.
I find myself at this moment specifically asking God to calm my mind and fears and to allow me to feel the peace beyond understanding and to know that he is God in the midst of the whirlwind of experiences that is my life.
Peace. As I hate hell, all Montagues.
I can’t help to think of Romeo & Juliet when I think of the word peace… sorry.
I find myself a little antsy or anxious today in general… which is probably the contributor to my thoughts not wanting to sit still while I wrap up homework. I have found there are times when my thoughts wander that it is better to give it space to calm itself down rather than force it to do what i want. It doesn’t hurt to throw a prayer in there to assist in the calming process.
We all have moments when our minds want to be somewhere other than where they are… we don’t wanna have to deal with work, family, church, school, friends, whatever it may be. I have learned the most important thing I can do to make me the best husband & father I can be is to focus on my own mental, emotional and spiritual health. I am no good to anyone else if I am a mess. Today, as my thoughts are scattered I let God fill me with calmness so that I am to parent my children well and finish my homework.
Are you feeling scattered and disjointed? Feeling like your mind wants to be somewhere else? Try asking God for calmness, then sit quietly and let your mind wander until it comes home.