Sunday, July 15, 2012

5 Truths My Clients Have Taught Me

Life is filled with milestones to be observed and celebrated.  These line-in-the-sand landmarks always present an opportunity to sit back and review, reflect and express gratitude ... and consider what might be on the road ahead. 

I'm celebrating a decade in my role as a pastoral counselor.  And I'm smiling, inside and out!

Back in July 2002, I set up shop in our living room.  The personal stuff was moved out and those prized, hard won diplomas and certificates were set in a place of honor.  My husband was banished from the house when appointments were scheduled.  It wasn't long til I was asked to serve on a church staff as a 'counselor for pastoral care,' and did so for five years.

In the fall of 2007, the creation and birth of the Creekside ministry center was a sweet miracle of grace and joyous redemption from the hand of God.  A long held dream was realized ... to offer hope-filled, healing conversations from a pastoral perspective in a beautiful, safe, peaceful environment.  It was truly one of those 'immeasurably more than all you could ask or imagine' experiences {Ephesians 3:20}.

All I can say is it's been a trip.  A real journey.

I'm not the same woman and I'm a very different counselor than I was back in 2002.  Lots of reasons come into play.  But perhaps the biggest game changer has been the impact that thousands and thousands of hours of conversation with many hundreds of clients has had on my life.  In a nutshell, here's just a sampling of what I've learned:

1.  There's No Immunity
I've talked with clients from 14 - 84.  They've come from endless, fascinating cultures with the broadest array of experiences, challenges, and pain.  But no matter where they find themselves or how they spend their days or how much cash they've got in their pockets, whether they're people full of faith or those who shake their fist in God's face ... when all is said and done, life happens.  And absolutely no one is immune from emotional trauma, grief, unexpected events, family crises, or serious illness that can pull the rug right out from under us.   

2.  Big Courage is Required
Let me put to rest the myth that people who go to counseling are weak.  It takes an inordinate amount of strength to admit you need to talk with a professional.  Tenacity to find the perfect fit with the counselor who has the proper training to match your needs ... and a true connection to your soul.  And raw faith and endless trust to allow that counselor to lead you through your stuff, week in and week out, so that you come out on the other end so much better than when you started. 

3.  It Takes a Team
While counseling conversations are 1-1 and confidential, healing doesn't come in a vacuum.  Together, counselor and client create a healing team that comes alongside as she moves through the tough times.  Safe, caring family members and friends, experienced medical and legal professionals, ongoing support groups, effective community services, church resources, and online help all come into play.  We don't heal on our own.  We were created for community.

4.  It's a 24/7 Deal 
A motivated client is not content with 1 hour of work a week.  An emphasis on caring for her body through healthy eating, exercise, rest, and a new work/life balance are all on the table.  Consulting with her doctor, taking needed medication as prescribed, and creating a space to meet with God on a regular basis are vital steps in moving ahead.  Those who follow up on assigned reading and journaling, who begin to set up wise boundaries and take concrete steps to reach their goals ... these are the ones who mend, who grow, who heal.

5.  Wounded Healers Emerge
God doesn't bring healing so we can simply wander off and put our feet up and be happy.  The goal is always to take the lessons learned and the strength and wisdom gathered to bring something of beautiful, healing substance to others.  To be so restored and so grateful and so wise that grace and hope can be offered to others who are broken ... that is when the client knows she's come full circle.

I honor you today, all who've invited me to sit and be present with you in the stark reality of your pain.  To leave no stone gently unturned as we've walked slowly but surely through the dark and scary places into the healing light and freedom that comes through Christ.  To banish the lies that have hindered, to discover the power of forgiveness, and embrace new ways of looking at life and relating to others well.  And ultimately, to claim the joyous potential of inviting our Redeemer to restore 'the years the locusts have eaten' {Joel 2:25}. 

Thank you for allowing me to champion your healing, pray you through each setback, speak the hard truth in love, and celebrate your victories.  When all is said and done, God is faithful and He is good. 

Anticipating what He has in store for us all ~

- photo by blessedchild -


  1. Dear Linda...Congratulations on your 10th anniversary!! And what a wonderful help you are to so many.

    For all the hours you spent with me back in the day, I thank and praise God, and extend to you my deepest appreciation.

    You truly are a special blessing. Here's to the next 10 years and beyond...

  2. He surely gets all the glory, the credit, the praise!

    I love what He's doing in your life, Sheila ...

  3. Great blog! It is exciting to look back at everything God has done during the past 10 years! Makes it exciting to think what He will do in the next 10 years!

    {via email}

  4. mmm ... 10 years from now I will be heading toward number 67!


  5. It's a truly amazing counselor and God that can turn a hopeless situation around. Thank you for helping me start to heal my life, myself and my marriage. I thought it was impossible but you stuck with me and pushed me when I needed. You are such a blessing to my life!!

  6. Don't you love it when God gives us hope when we have none?

    I rejoice at every step you've taken to move ahead by His grace.

    Thank you, Valerie ...

  7. Absolutely awe-inspiring and beautiful - I wish that I had better and more appropriate ways to say 'thank you' - and thank you too to the Lord for the way that He has and is using you in this much-needed ministry for Him and for His honor and His glory. We are so thankful for you.

    {via email}

  8. To be in the middle of what God is doing? There's just no greater joy.

    Your words of affirmation are an encouragement to me! Thank you so much ...

  9. Thank you for allowing God to use you to heal others by directing them to change and a stronger relationship with the Lord. I'm sure it's not always easy, but you have allowed God to use your gifts to help others, and have blessed countless people as a result.

  10. When all is said and done, there's nothing I'd rather be doing in this season of life! I am so blessed to work with such incredible clients and colleagues.

    Thank you for your sweetness, Kristin ...

  11. I've learned so much from my clients as well (I'm a counselor transitioning soon to life coach). Sometimes I feel like I learn more from my client's lives than they learn from the counseling session with me. :) But I'm just grateful, like you, to be a part of God's plan to redeem the pain others experience. Thanks so much for your insights here, Linda!

  12. How fun to meet another counselor/life coach/blogger! I'm headed over to your site right now!

    Thanks for introducing yourself, Beth!

  13. Congratulations on a decade of ministry! I know it's been a time of immense growth and opportunities, and that you've invested into many people's lives.

    We look forward to the 20-year reflection as you continue to minister to God's children.

    -Jonathan and Allison

  14. mmm ... let's not wait for 10 years to have our next family reunion! And I still have my Counselor Deanna Troi doll you gave me when I headed back to school way back in the day!


    Love you guys!

  15. Beautiful and inspiring!! Thanks for letting God work through you!

  16. Thank you, Linda, for linking us to this very helpful post the other day (via "These Are the Brave Ones," May 3).

    As someone just starting out on her healing journey -- and even more, her walk with Christ -- I found this article so informative and inspiring. An encouragement to me through this process of leaving "no stone gently unturned" as we walk "slowly but surely through the dark and scary places in the healing light and freedom that comes through Christ." Wow. I also really appreciate your pointing me to another "light" at the end of the tunnel, one I hadn't really considered before: the potential of emerging not only with healed wounds, but as a "wounded healer." Remarkable! I can't say that's been the message I've carried away from the secular counsel world. Not by a long shot. Only God can work that kind of restoration! Thanks for reminding me. He can do way beyond what we even ask or imagine . . .

    May He continue to bless you, and Creekside,

    1. Thank you! Yes, to become wounded healers allows God to redeem all the brokenness, the pain, the hurt we have suffered. And yes, He's the One who does the work, first of all in us ... and then through us.



Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...


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