It seems that perhaps I have a therapist heartbeat; a drive and determination to being with others in a way that offers hope and help. With this lot, I’ve learned to accept the blessings and burdens of connection with clients and relationships lost. I’ve wrestled alongside addiction, anxiety, adolescence, and abuse and together with clients, take on suffering, sorrow, separation, and sexuality. Folks come and go, some better, some sober, some frustrated, and some who don’t make it. And in it all, I must admit, sometimes I wonder if there is more.
For within this, it’s become foundational to both my personal and professional life that I must hold tightly to the belief that I do not change people; for that is not my lot nor within my control. Rather, I deeply respect the honor and privilege it is to walk beside others in their struggle as they try to adjust to new thoughts, feelings, and actions. In this, I take seriously the role entrusted to me and do my best to be faithful towards others and myself. Living my values gives me the courage to balance academia with intuition and humor with directness. And I am beyond thankful for those willing to take a chance on a relationship with me in hopes of finding healing for their own heart.
But maybe even beyond all of this, beyond the joy of seeing folks grow and attain the lives they desire to live, I am drawn towards brokenness itself. And maybe this is my lot.
“I am, you see, a Job’s comforter. Far from lightening the dark valley where you now find yourself, I blacken it. And you know why. Your darkness has brought back my own. But on second thought I don’t regret what I have written. I think it is only in a shared darkness that you and I can really meet at present; shared with one another, and what matters most, with our Master. We are not on an untrodden path. Rather, on the main road.” –C.S. Lewis, Letters To Malcom
This Lewis quote seems to so soundly capture much of my role and my heart for counseling. While I can rarely provide clients with the easy outs, the quick fixes, or step by step instructions, I can attempt to invite them into presence; a presence with our Maker and myself. And it is here where folks are at that I sit with them amid the anger, defeat, pain, and fear interrupting their lives. For in joining together in the dark, together we find a way out.
Though scary as hell, there is connection in brokenness and I have always found purpose, comfort, and place by entering into that space. This is likely due in part to the ways my life has been shaped. For I am a therapist, not because of the ease my life has afforded me, but rather the struggles God and others have helped me through which brought me to such work. I want to comfort by reflecting the comfort I have received, amid a life that seems desolate, destructive, and defeating.
And so my hope is to, in humility and my own limitations, provide space where others feel seen, heard, known, and supported—where they are encouraged and invited into new ways of interacting, relating, and being validated.
I acknowledge my bias that everyone should be in counseling, yet still hold tightly to the benefits it offers. There is such joy to have someone to celebrate the seemingly small changes that we work so hard to attain; changes that the world outside the walls of therapy might not acknowledge, yet impact us to the core. And the journey, oh the journey. The journey and hard work that no one can take away from you is a gift to both yourself and me.
So perhaps my lot is to come alongside and comfort in the darkness and deep. Though outcomes are always out of my hands and therapeutic work comes with ethical limits and guidelines, I am a Job comforter because of the peace I find being a part of the work. And as I eluded to earlier, I am certain there is more; there is definitely always more. But meeting folks in the present, in the midst of heartache, hurt, or hopelessness is a lot I am thankful to have been given.
Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC