Living my life

So, I found out today that a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in many, many moons is “scared to death” to see me because she’s afraid I’m going to psychoanalyze her.

And it made me angry. And sad. And totally self-deprecating.

I was told my friend was scared to see me and I thought very little of how this person hasn’t spent much time with me since I started grad school and finished my degree, and because of this doesn’t actually know me that well. No, I went straight to beating myself up for being the kind of person that people are scared to be friends with.

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Me: …she’s scared to death to see me.  Nice. So much for being a friend. It’s a shame there’s no return policy for my stupid degree.

BFF: Lol. It’s not your degree, it’s who you are! You listen intently and offer insight. Sometimes people don’t like that.

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It was all I needed to hear in order to switch off the self-deprecation in my head.  Because the listening intently thing has always been something I’ve done, always been something I’ve been really good at, and has always something I’ve really liked about myself.  I think it makes me a really good friend, and often being a good friend is the only thing I feel like I know what I’m doing.

So then, what my counseling degree did for me was sharpen the skills I had ready had.  It taught me to find a point of empathy with every one, and to save my judgments because everyone has a story and often those stories have really ugly chapters.  It taught me that when I take the focus off myself and focus wholly on another person God is glorified.  It taught me that sometimes presence alone is healing, and that God can do amazing things when the space is made just for conversation to happen.   It taught me, and it made me better at what I do naturally.

My counseling degree has made me a better version of myself. 

Mary Pipher, an expert psychologist in adolescent development and a beautiful writer, once said in a letter to one of her grad students, “Being a therapist is less about making a living and more about living my life.”  Mary Pipher is not a Christian, but the Baptist in me sure wants to give a hearty “Amen!” from my back row.

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She came to me unsettled and somber the second night of camp.  It was late and we were both tired, but she needed to talk.   She needed to share with someone just how disconnected she felt from God and from other people.  And I listened.  I told her that her anger was palpable and that if I were in high school with her now, I probably wouldn’t be her friend.

At least she says now that’s what I told her, I don’t remember – it was late and I was tired.   She says now that it was exactly what she needed to hear.  And other students in our youth group say that they’ve seen a change in her, a release of anger and a surrendering to Jesus.

So, yeah…

Maybe sometimes people don’t like that I’m a psychoanalyst by nature and by training.  But, I believe in the passion God has instilled in me for both His Word and the study of psychology.  And I believe that He’s using it for His good, for me and for the people in my life.

Maybe people don’t like it.  But, maybe it’s what we both need.

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2 thoughts on “Living my life

  1. I love having a friend with your gifting and skill. Who doesn’t want to be heard and genuninely listened to…even if they are reading what you are saying. I am super thrilled to have you in my life!

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