As I look around each day, I see vastly that life is filled with paradox. The more connected we get through technology, the more isolated we feel. The more you fail at something, the more likely you are to (eventually) succeed. The more that we learn, the more we realize how very little we actually know. And in order to fully live, we must experience a sense of death of the self. Something that has set in over these last few weeks is that, in order to reach peace we must surrender to God’s will. In surrender resides great power. It is natural to want to be in control of things; on top of schedules and to-do lists and in reaching daily goals we might set for ourselves. These are good things, but I find comfort in realizing that so much of life is actually out of our control. I don’t mean to say that we are helpless. Living one’s dreams takes perseverance, courage and bravery, though it also requires a quiet listening to what exactly those dreams might be and how best to go about attaining them. In that listening, we might be blessed to realize the words and will of God.
As a pastoral counselor, I hope to be given the grace to integrate this message, not only in my daily life, but also into practice with clients. While it is not always easy, it is a blessing and a great honor to be able to hand one’s burdens over to Christ. In pastoral counseling the therapist, if he or she is Catholic, might practice in such a way that they act as Jesus Christ, while also looking for Christ in each person they work with. In relying on God to guide my life journey, I hope to practice and live as is most pleasing to Him. This reminds me of a story I heard about Mother Teresa during a homily in Sunday mass. She was asked how she could help so many people all of the time, clothing them, feeding them, washing them, comforting them, etc. Her response was that she only ever helps the One. Looking for Christ in each person she met, she was able to provide each individual with her complete attention and care, giving them the gift of being truly seen and heard. This full presence is not easy to come by, but it can be the greatest gift one might ever give. She lived with such love that each person or creature she encountered was granted her entire self, no matter how poor, sick or small they might have been.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
It was through much listening and reflection that I came to the field of counseling, as well as surrender to what God wants for me to do. The opportunity to learn and grow as a counselor and human is an incredible gift. Still, this road is not an easy one. It requires sacrifice of time, money, energy, but what I will gain in joining this field will infinitely outweigh what I might miss at times along the way. Being able to place my life in God’s hands, in all of the struggles, burdens as well as the joys, gives me the strength to continue on each day. I hope to instill this sense of hope in clients and in each person I come to, as I live and work with full presence and purpose.
My name is Andrea and I am a graduate student in the Clinical and Mental Health program at Franciscan University. I am from State College, Pennsylvania, and previously studied Art- drawing and painting, with minors in French and Psychology at Penn State University. I love to paint landscapes and adventure to beautiful places to be surrounded by nature.
Wanting to be of help to others doing work in line with my given talents and abilities, God has guided me to the counseling field. Franciscan allows me to grow and learn in this profession by valuing the view of the human person in a holistic manner, biopsychosocial and spiritual. I am concretely discovering what I have inherently felt, that these aspects of the human person cannot be separated if seeking wholeness. Upon finishing my degree, I plan to move back to State College to live and work as a counselor to help others find meaning and purpose in their lives!