Thursday, August 28, 2014

Life's Messes

My husband and I moved into a new house this month.  And it is a MESS. 

There are still boxes everywhere.  We didn’t have time to pack in a neat, orderly way like I wanted to, so the boxes are full of random, unlabeled things.  I don’t quite know the perfect places for things yet, and sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for. 

The house was built in the 80’s, so it needs a lot of cosmetic work.  We are getting started on that this week, but for now the walls are the most dreadful brown/tan/mustard color.  My friend and I painted three of my four bedroom walls last weekend (have not successfully finished wall number four yet) and based on this experience, I can say with a fair level of confidence that it’s going to be a while before the whole house is freshly painted.

Because I’ve been waiting on some remodeling to be done I haven’t put out any decorations yet, so things look empty and messy at the same time.  My backyard landscaping consists of a hole my puppy has dug right in the center of the yard.  The house does not smell like home.   But, despite these things, when I look around I can see the wonderful potential. 

I can imagine how it will look with a wall knocked down, a new floor, new paint, and with our decorations and special things put in just the right places.  But, much more importantly, I can imagine it being a place that is filled with friends, laughter, and happiness.  Somewhere people can come wearing what they want and where it’s ok to accidentally spill something.  A home that people leave feeling a little more full of life than when they came.  That time isn’t here for my house yet, but I know it’s coming.  

Life’s messes, especially during seasons of change, can feel a bit like my house does right now.  Whether it’s a new job, a big move, a new house, a new baby, a friend moving away, or whatever other changes we are going through, life after a change  can feel unsettling and messy at first.  Things are new, we may not know where we belong, and we may feel like we can’t find what we are looking for right away.  Things might seem like they need a LOT of work to ever be good, and we may feel unsure of where to start.  We may miss the smell of the old place that was comfortable. 

But if we look hard, and perhaps from a different perspective, we will be able to see the potential in our new situation.  How it’s a chance to start fresh, to clear out the clutter, to learn, and to grow.  Perhaps it’s a chance to leave old bad habits behind and do things a new way.  Life may have changed and the situation might be new and unfamiliar, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be good. 

I’m learning that just because our house is a mess doesn’t mean that it can’t be a good place.  We can still invite friends over, I can still cook for people, and we can still laugh here, even if we have brown mustard walls and unfortunate light fixtures. Life is like this-even if things are unfamiliar, out of place, and unsettled, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t good to be found right now.  I think we just keep moving forward, keep trying to see the good, and keep on growing.  And maybe before we know it, that new house will start smelling like home. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Counseling?

"So what kinds of things do people come to you to talk about?"

“I could NEVER talk to a counselor.”

“Do you really think you can fix people?”

I get questions and comments like these pretty regularly.  People are intrigued by the mystery of what goes on in my office.  The truth is I have heard my share of sad stories.  Clients have told me about heartbreaking situations and devastating ways that they've been hurt by others, and I always feel honored when people trust me enough to share these experiences.

However, other clients are coming to counseling for what I call "everyday life problems"- too much stress, a time of sadness that won't go away, a season of anxiety, a lack of direction, difficulty adjusting to a new situation, and a multitude of other situations.  These situations can be very painful, and I feel honored when people trust me with them as well. 

Sometimes people have the idea that an issue has to be "bad enough" to qualify for counseling, as if a counselor would consider them silly for coming to talk about the thing that is bothering them.  On the other hand, some people think that their situation is so bad, so shocking, or so shameful that they could not imagine sharing it out loud with another person.  The truth is that any situation causing a person pain or keeping them from living a full and happy life is a reason to seek counseling.

The decision to attend counseling is one that a person has to make for his or herself.  No one can force you to do it, and you can’t force it on anyone else either.  Certainly parents can force it on a teenager, but even then the process  goes significantly better if the teenager comes around to the idea.  This isn’t always the case, but people don’t usually stick with counseling if it isn’t a decision they have made for themselves. 

Is counseling a magic cure for life’s problems? Certainly not.  Is it a quick fix? Nope.  Do counselors know all the answers? If only that were the case.  However, the counselors that I know do try to help and encourage people the best they can.  For me, it is very important that people feel comfortable in my office, that they recognize it to be a place where they can be honest and know they will not be judged.  I cannot “fix” anything, but I can walk alongside someone and offer a new perspective. Ultimately, I want clients to feel better and to grow as people.  The combination of these two things help clients feel equipped to handle their struggles on their own. 

If you’ve considered seeing a counselor, I encourage you not to let fear hold you back.  I cannot promise that it will solve all your problems, but I can say with confidence that I have seen it help many people.  If you want more information about the counseling process, please feel free to contact me!