This week I am slowly packing up the office in which I’ve worked for the past 10 years and 9 months at the Florida United Methodist Childrens Home. This beautiful campus, tucked away in Enterprise, FL right on Lake Monroe, is filled with old South Oak trees covered in Spanish moss. It is home to anywhere from 30 to 100 displaced children at any given time, providing a refuge for healing and growth until they move on to a more permanent family. In many ways, it has been a home for healing and growth for me as well. As I took down artwork and notes from the many children I’ve served throughout my time at The Childrens Home, I reflected on my own journey as a Therapist.
I began this work 15 years ago, and two of the biggest lessons I’ve learned are
1) I am not that powerful and
2) Sometimes presence is more powerful than any words will ever be.
When I was a brand new therapist, I had dreams of saving every client. I truly believed that the work of changing lives rested on my shoulders. As I train new therapists, I see this same hope in their eyes as well. It is a valiant dream, but it lacks the wisdom of years spent in this work. The reality is, no one is that powerful. The drive to change a life rests in the heart and mind of the client seeking help; and the power for that change to happen rests squarely in Divine hands. The therapist’s role is simply to build a relationship that creates a safe environment of acceptance and grace that gives someone permission to take the greatest risk of their life - to change, to grow. Everything else is out of our hands. This can make one feel incredibly helpless, and it is the most beautifully humbling experience. This understanding has allowed me to embrace that I will not always have the words, and often it’s better that way. Often, all someone needs is our presence to give them the courage they need to heal.
Never underestimate the value of being fully present. One of the greatest responsibilities within Sabbath is using that space and time to re-center, breathe, reengage with the Divine, and find the peace within ourselves that allows us to be fully present. You will know when you are around someone who knows how to be present in this way because you feel it within yourself. These individuals exude calm, safety, and wholeness because they themselves are calm, safe, and whole. This takes work and this takes Sabbath, but this is what allows us to impact others without speaking a word. Our own healing is never selfish work because showing up whole and present is the greatest gift we can be to others.
Stay and rest.
Breathe and heal.
Then, go out into the world fully present as a gift to yourself and to others.