What’s the best idea you’ve ever had? Regale us with every detail of the idea — the idea itself, where it came to you, and the problem it solved.
It may not be the best, but it’s the first one that popped into my head. And I’ve written about it before, so I’ll try to take a different perspective this time.
My husband fell into a deep and debilitating depression when he was about 50, and I was 46. We had no idea what we were dealing with for several weeks. Finally, one of the doctors we were seeing recognized what was going on, and we got the right help.
I’d always been interested in the field of psychology, but good little Christian girls were not encouraged in that direction back in the ’60’s. I do not regret becoming a teacher. Loved it. But it was time for a change, for several reasons.
We didn’t know if Terry would ever be able to work again, so I had to face the possibility of becoming the major breadwinner. You can’t do that if you teach in a small Christian school.
Also, I was beginning to feel that itch again to get into the field of counseling. I was ready. My kids were all adults; I had never lost my interest; my enthusiasm had been renewed by sitting in on Terry’s sessions with our counselor.
So I took a deep breath and jumped in. Started my master’s degree at age 50, and started working in the same office where we’d gone for help at age 53.
Now, for the last part of the question in the prompt: What problem did it solve?
Terry was indeed able to go back to work, slowly at first, but finally full time. He worked almost 20 more years before his physical problems forced him to retire. So I never had to shoulder the whole burden of financial leadership, and I’m very thankful. That was a problem I didn’t have to solve.
What it did, though when I made the decision to change careers, was to open a whole new world for me. It gave me the ability to be on my own financially, if that ever became necessary, but beyond that it opened my eyes and my heart to a world I’d never had to inhabit. I’ve had a very safe, very happy life. Not dull, believe me, but my parents never divorced, I never lost anyone close to me until my grandfather died when I was 14; even with that, we saw him so seldom that not much really changed. I never suffered any of the horrors that some of my clients deal with, I’ve been in a good marriage for 46+ years; my four children are all doing well; my nine grandchildren are the nine wonders of the world 🙂
To do counseling, I’ve had to step into a realm I’ve happily avoided all my life, and it’s been good for me. It’s given me a broader, deeper understanding of people. It’s helped me understand the deep, deep love of God in a whole new way. It’s given me more—-I hate to use the word, because of its cultural and political implications—–tolerance for people who are different than I am. That doesn’t mean I’ve lowered my standards or left my faith, not for one minute. It does mean that I’ve come to learn from a different perspective that people need what only God can offer: Peace, hope, and solid answers to their problems. Not ritually spouted Bible verses that you can’t even process when you’re in so much pain, but solid, patient compassion and understanding that life hurts, and that sometimes trite responses do more harm than good. Sometimes, we just need someone to listen without “fixing” us, and I do a lot of that. Once my clients have unloaded their story, their pain, their despair, THEN I can go in with help that is tried and true. Patience has never been my strong suit, but I’m learning.
I’m also learning that I don’t need to come back with a quick answer. Sometimes, I just need to be quiet and wait, because more is coming.
So, what problem has been solved? I don’t know how, exactly, to say it except that I think the one who has benefitted most has been ME. My clients have helped me grow, become more sensitive and compassionate, be quiet, listen, and wait. And to pay better attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit when I do respond.
I think that’s pretty cool.