Not a Project

Author: Ian Young, Middle School Director
Through Thick & Thin - Part 5
Almost two years ago, I started going to counseling. I was wrestling with thoughts and emotions I did not understand; some I had experienced before, but others were brand new. What I did understand, though, was that I needed help. I naturally had some doubts because when I thought of counseling, I pictured someone with a pad and paper asking me, “What’s wrong?” then I try to articulate the complexity of what has been going on inside my head, and then they try to diagnose me, figure me out, or prescribe a “cure,” and send me on my way. But if that’s what I needed, so be it.
The fears I had about being treated like a project soon disappeared. What I did not expect to find from my counselor was an immense amount of empathy and compassion paired with a genuine desire to get to know me—to understand who I was. I wasn’t just a client of his. I was a human being, made in God’s image, who was going through a hard time and needed someone to listen first and help second. I needed someone to encourage me, to look for the victories I was experiencing in my life, and then celebrate those with me.

When we celebrate the victories of others and grieve with those experiencing sorrow, we show them the love of Christ.

My counselor obeyed Paul’s command in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”

This command from God is not only for mental health professionals with degrees and certifications but for all of us. When we celebrate the victories of others and grieve with those experiencing sorrow, we show them the love of Christ.

So what is your reaction when you see others rejoice or when you see them weep?

When they have a victory, do you tell them congratulations? Do you surprise them with a gift? Or simply hug them and say, “I’m so proud of you?” Or do you tend to downplay their success, feel jealous, and fail to take any action because you wish it were your own achievement?

When they are weeping, do you jump straight into “problem-solving mode,” as Dr. Brené Brown warns against? Providing theology, possible solutions, or maybe even passing judgment?  Or do you sit with them in and through the pain, listening before deciding to speak and then reminding them how much you love them?
"Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." 
—Romans 12:15
Without my counselor, I would not be where I am today. I am healthier emotionally, physically, and spiritually because he took the time to sit with me, listen, and understand. When he spoke into my life without judgment, I listened to him because I knew I could trust him due to the empathy he showed me.

As you go through this week, find opportunities to draw closer to people, enter into what they are going through, and rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

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