Each year I have been given to work as a counselor has been full of learning, change and opportunity. The Lord gave me a place to practice counseling in a private setting with two amazing mentors. When I started grad school several years ago, I knew for certain I was supposed to be a counselor. I also thought I knew for certain I’d work with “anyone except adolescents”.
Since I’ve walked across that stage and turned my tassel to the other side, that’s 99% of who I’ve worked with. And they are 99% of why I love my job! So this is for you, my girls.
To you brave 13 year olds,
To you resilient 14 year olds,
To you hilarious 15 year olds,
To you hopeful 16 year olds,
To you freedom-seeking 17 year olds,
Here’s to you…you made it through another semester!
This is for you to read when the parents decide that your life is about to split in half. When the friend you trusted with your secret uses it like ammunition. When the images say you’re not enough or you’re too much. When you can’t, for the life of you, figure out how to be “their happy girl” again. When no one believes your story. When you’re on the bludgeoning side of the rumor mill and you can’t slow it down with the truth. When the people who tell you to change your shorts never ask how you’re really doing. When high school makes it hard to see “real life” because this is your real life right now. When lie after lie comes at you with words that sound so much like truth. When your old habits of causing yourself pain seem like the only outlet for the pain on the inside.
I’ll be here. I’ll be here standing guard. It’s an incredible privilege to be here because your identity is precious as it’s being shaped by what you’re seeing and hearing. I’ll be here as many times as you need to hear your life has eternal worth and needs to be lived, not just survived. Because too many don’t survive to really live. I’m here because we lose more of you to suicide than to cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, and lung disease, COMBINED.
It’s a privilege because your trust is not something I take lightly. I’m here because I know how fragile things are…how fragile we all are if we’re brave enough to admit it. It’s important to be here to tell you the voice in you saying, “there’s got to be more than this” is absolutely right! There is a person behind that voice and He has so much more for you!
So thank you. Thank you for letting me carry your secrets. Thanks for letting me celebrate your hard work with you. You earned each one of those Twizzlers, diet Cokes, dance parties and hair flip moments. Thanks for letting me sort through and find the Truth with you. And you know the truth if you don’t remember anything else…You are seen. You are heard. You are known. And you are valued. Always.
P.S. I know this cheesy stuff makes you roll your eyes so thanks for putting up with it.