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 but I needed more to do (of course) and so began searching for other options to fill up my week.
I decided to enrol at Morling College to study theology. I was learning who God was and drawing closer to Him. I enjoyed being 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 spoke to my course advisor and the transition from the theology subjects was smooth, which allowed me to continue on in 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?
If you're interested to explore further, come and speak to our Counselling, Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care staff at our online Open Night on Wed 13 May at 6.30pm. Register here.