Even at a young age God put in my life people who would confide in me about their struggles and their pain. At times it was overwhelming, because I felt I had nothing that I could give them except sympathy. I didn’t understand at that time that God can show Himself strong even in my weakness. I didn’t realize that my lack of advice giving was probably why people continued to approach me.
I was later advised that I should pray for those who confided in me. I started to do that and continue to do so to this day. I however did feel that perhaps with an education I could be of more help. So I went to college and majored in psychology, believing that it would help me meet the needs of people in emotional and psychological pain. I would love to say that I chose Social Work, but if I am honest I think I would say Social Work chose me. I didn’t know much about the field, but after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and not knowing what to do next, God provided me a job at a university which had a Social Work program. I got accepted into that program, and the school paid for my studies. God opened doors and I just kept walking into the opportunities He provided. My faith was childlike, I didn’t question, and as I reflect, God deserves all the credit for getting me through my Master’s Degree in Social Work while I worked full time.
Once I obtained my MSW God began to take me on a vocational journey that at times made no sense to me. It wasn’t linear, but winding and at times confusing. When I look over my resume I now realize that in private practice I get to use much of the knowledge and skills I obtained in every work setting. Truly Jeremiah 29:11 was in operation in my life.
Now in private practice (www.awarenesscounseling.com) I feel the complete freedom to engage my clients in spiritual discussions if they are comfortable with that, and can pray for them and for wisdom to help them without any concern about agency objections. So how do my faith and my social work interact? The question is more how do they not interact? Without my faith I don’t believe I would be here doing what I do now. I marvel that others are able to do what I do, interact with people at their most vulnerable, and give guidance and show compassion, without a firm faith in God. The danger as I see it is that without an understanding that he is in control; I may get despondent when my clients don’t improve under my care, or get puffed up when they do. Understanding that God is the source of everything and I am just a tool in his hand that he has prepared for such a time as this, keeps me grounded. As long as it serves his purpose for me to work with hurting people using my social work degree, I will continue to serve in this capacity. Should he at some future date direct me in another direction, I expect he will equip me to serve Him there, as he has here.
Allison B. is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Christian Counselor at the Awareness Counseling Center in Orange City, FL. She has been a member of NACSW member since 2000. Check out her blog at Allison’s blog