Have you ever had one of those moments which changed your life forever? A seemingly small moment in time, yet with mind-blowing ripple effects?
I didn’t know it at the time, however, when a fellow theology student suggested to me in 2003; “I think you should try out counselling, you’re a good listener”, my life was on the cusp of a new direction.
Rewind a touch.
I graduated as a physiotherapist in 2001. I wasn’t sure about becoming a physiotherapist and even throughout my four years of study didn’t love it. However, I graduated and began my path working as a physiotherapist. After about a year and a half, I found a part-time job working in community health with children. I needed more to do (of course) and so began searching for other options to fill up my week.
I fell into studying a New Testament subject at Morling College. I decided to become more involved in student life and found myself meeting every week with two other girls to pray.
Back to the suggestion.
I tried out the first counselling subject. I loved it. I dumped the theology subjects and continued on with counselling, completing the Graduate Diploma in Christian Counselling in 2007.
So. End of story? Student counselling journey done? Not quite.
When I completed the Graduate Diploma, I didn’t have the sense at the time that God was calling me to be a professional Christian counsellor. I loved the internship I had been placed with, coming home each week so excited about what I was doing and all that I was learning. The workplace had even encouraged me to apply for one of their part-time positions! Sounds like a perfect transition into working as a counsellor…?
I didn’t have peace about it. I didn’t apply. And so I continued on with my job as a physiotherapist, finding my new skills helpful as I walked alongside others both in my personal and professional life. I also told God that I wasn’t going to go back to study. Ever again. (Uh oh, you know what’s coming next, right?)
Fast forward to 2010. I had been married a few years and then experienced a miscarriage. This was a gut-wrenching experience for me. It seemed to take me entirely out of my current life and altered my perspective on EVERYTHING. Most significantly I began to question my work and my calling. Did I really want to work as a physiotherapist forever?
It’s interesting when you start to re-examine everything and really pay attention to those things which bring life. I remembered how much I had loved being an intern counsellor. I realised that what brought me the most joy in my work as a physiotherapist was not the physiotherapy work itself, but listening to the families, being involved in their lives, walking alongside the other physiotherapists that I was supervising.
I realised that what I loved most was the supporting and listening roles, and opened myself up to the idea of jumping back on to the counselling route. I trained with Lifeline and became a volunteer telephone counsellor. I LOVED IT. It felt like a confirmation of the work I wanted to, or potentially the calling on my life.
And so, 5 years after I told God that I would never study again (yep, you guessed it!), I applied to Morling College and enrolled to study the Masters of Counselling. I was back. And I loved it.
Second time around felt like a very different experience. I had more life experience behind me. I had already had a taste of being a counsellor. I was also now a mother. Combining the life adjustments that came with that as well as the ongoing self-reflection involved in the Masters course, I felt like I was not only learning to become a professional counsellor, I was learning more about who I was, who God said I was and who I was also becoming.
One day in class, when I was asked to reflect on a picture of a jetty looking out to the water, I knew at that moment that this was a long term venture for me. That this time around, I was clear that God was calling me to walk out onto that jetty, to become a professional counsellor, where I couldn’t quite see the ending, yet the outlook seemed so beautiful. That is where I was heading.
And so after another long haul of study, the light at the end of the tunnel finally became clearer and I graduated at the end of 2017 with a Masters of Counselling. This time, I sought out options to work as a counsellor. This time, I was clear.
And that’s where I am now. I still love it. I still see this as a long term venture. A long term calling. I’m excited to keep walking out and see where it goes.
Where might God be leading you?