It’s hard to believe that this blog has been up and running for three months now. It may not seem like such a success, but there was a time when this blog was barely holding on. In remembering that time, I think about all of the grace-filled moments that led me here. Since this blog had been relaunched, I’ve used it to share several stories of how grace has shown up in the lives of my tribe. This past week, I was asked by a friend to tell my story about opening up my private practice. While writing it, I realized that I had never shared my own story here for all of you. So here it is:
Picture it. 2017. Valdosta. I had just graduated from grad school, and the world was my oyster. At least, that’s how the story went in my head. The reality was far from it. Graduation day was so surreal. I remember walking across the stage, bending for my professor to hood me, and thankfully making it back to my seat without falling on my face in my heels (I‘m not much of a heels girl). I remember my family being ecstatic, my friends and I beaming with this newfound power. I even remember thinking that nothing would ever be the same.
Never would I have thought that the version of “nothing would ever be the same” would begin with me unemployed and quickly running out of money. At first, the fall was subtle. I was Iiving with my parents, where rent and groceries weren’t a thing. I had enough for gas but wasn’t really going anywhere. Quite frankly, I was just thankful for the time away from schoolwork and responsibilities! But slowly, the realization sunk in that I still hadn’t received those hoped-for calls from all of the applications I had put in before coming back to South Carolina. I busied myself during the days studying for my exam and wallowing in self-pity.
I finally broke down and began applying for retail jobs. I hated the thought if I‘m being completely honest. I had it in my head that my Master’s degree made me too good for that kind of work. In my head, my degree equated to my value. And the shame I felt from being in a position of less value was immeasurable. I finally heard back from the manager at Kirkland’s and went in for my interview. Two days later she called to offer me the position. I was just happy to be on somebody’s payroll at this point!
While going (and growing) through it, it felt like I had spent forever at Kirkland’s. Really, it was 10 months. In those 10 months, I went through a lot of emotions. I felt resentment when I saw posts from my cohort members that they were actually working in our field while I was haggling prices with “Karens”. I felt shame when people only saw me as the cashier and felt compelled to tell anyone that would listen that “actually I had a Master’s degree.” I got satisfaction from seeing their eyes widen and then their nods of approval. After a few months, my hard work was noticed and I was promoted to assistant manager. I was trusted and my opinion on store layouts was valued. I found that I actually had an eye for the design. It became a place of comfort among all of the other things I was feeling.
Eventually, I heard back from one of the counseling jobs I had applied for. Funny enough, the email said that I was overqualified for the position that I had applied for (at this point, I did NOT feel overqualified, let me tell you!) But the Executive Director sent my information to the counseling department for another position. Life must have been playing a joke on me because that lady told me I was under-qualified to be on her staff! I chalked it up as a loss and continued building tables and selling decor. Not too long after that, the same lady that told me that I was under-qualified called me in for an interview. And then another. AND THEN ANOTHER! Two days later (did ya’ll catch that?), I received a call with the job offer. I ended up being the new counselor on her staff, with no license and no experience to work with this specific population. I was excited, scared, and anxious all at the same time. The whole job was contingent on me passing my licensure exam, which wasn’t scheduled until AFTER the week-long orientation. But, like Esther and Ruth, I felt there must be a reason God placed me here. With nothing but faith and a new pencil skirt, I went to orientation, then to take my test, then on vacation to await the results. Three weeks later, I received the letter that I PASSED!!! Anyone that went past our house that day would’ve seen my dad and I running laps and screaming in the yard. Cloud nine didn’t cover it…I was on cloud ten!
My time at the agency didn’t come without its trials, but all in all I’m blessed to have been there. I learned so much about myself and my abilities while there and gained a whole network of extraordinary support that to this day speak life into myself and my endeavors. However, as all good things do, my time at the agency came to an end. I felt I needed to move…but where. I had no idea. My teammate sent me a suggestion for a job that she saw, and I haphazardly applied. About a month later, after forgetting about it, I received a call to come in for an interview where I found that YET AGAIN I WAS UNDER QUALIFIED!!! Two days later (again), I received the job offer and accepted.
I’ve been working in this new position for a school year now, and it’s been very…interesting! In March, I started questioning whether this was really the place for me. I began worrying about whether my discernment was off. I thought that maybe my lack of communication with God had caused me to slip into an entanglement with the need for a job and jumping at whatever opportunity passed. But then, like only God can provide, clarity came…in the form of Auntie Rona. While everyone has been complaining about isolation, I was forced to use the time to meditate on where I really wanted to be. I had time to sit and converse with God about my passions and His plan for my life. In May, I began searching for office spaces and found one that looked relatively good for the price. I went to see it the next day and immediately fell in love. I went home to pray about it, and two days later (AGAIN) it was mine.
Now, I am the proud owner of Grace to Heal Counseling Services LLC, and God has brought the business. I couldn’t have imagined this if I tried! I just keep thinking about the process as a whole. In the beginning, I was gracefully broken. Through the trials, I was getting ready to see some things I’ve never seen before. God was preparing me for something greater, I could feel it. When I finally surrendered and made room for God to come and move, the shift was amazing! If I ever had a doubt that my God listens when I speak and wants what’s best for me, this story is my constant reminder that this is so far from the truth! And he’s listening to you too, daughter/son. He hears you and He actually does take into account what our desires are. Surrender yourself to the process, embrace the lessons, and watch Him move.