Permissions From a (Future) Counselor
By Abby Klima
MA Mental Health Counseling Student & Admissions Staff
Welcome to a space of permission during a wild time. You have a unique context during the virus. You are unique and so are your circumstances. There is a diversity in responses regarding the coronavirus and that is okay. As you pause and notice what is bubbling up in this time, be kind to yourself. Be open to other people’s experiences. This is an upside-down, unprecedented time.
You have permission not to compare your circumstances to another individual’s experience.
It is good to be aware and educated. It is good to honor and acknowledge what people are experiencing. But do not for one minute discount what you are going through because it feels like it is not as valid as someone else’s experience. We do not need to compare pain. That only creates more pain because it causes us to diminish or not pay attention to what we are going through.
You have permission to grieve (or not).
When this pandemic began, I did not expect to encounter grief. There have been many, many losses and things to grieve during this time. It is incredibly overwhelming. I wanted to talk about one unique thing I have been grieving that I did not expect: being in person with people. Many of us are at Denver Seminary because we want to be more equipped to care for people well. This virus has rendered us immobile. And therefore, it is difficult not to be able to be around others (apart from those we live with, of course).
You have permission to be.
I have seen a lot of things going around about how now is the time to do the thing you have always wanted to do, to create the next big thing, to do all the things etc. Whoa. Pause. That is a really overwhelming sentiment. We are going through a collective trauma right now and it is exhausting. I have found that a lot of things I normally do are taking more time during the pandemic. While there are some things that we just have to continue to do, you do not have to be constantly productive.
You have permission to be experiencing a range of emotions that change daily.
I mean, here is a brief list of emotions I have experienced in the last month: confusion, fear, anger, gratefulness, nervousness, hopefulness, hopelessness, depression, sadness, a lack of emotions, and many more. There are moments when the shut down of everything feels like an exhale, and I am grateful for the space. There are moments when I am furious. There are moments when I want to look for things to be grateful for and silver-linings. And there are moments when I just want to be sad. I believe all of those are okay.
And you have permission to lament.
This is similar to the previous point, but I thought it was important to make a separate point about lament. I read this quote recently in another blog by a friend and it struck a chord. In his book Sacred Lament, Michael Card writes: “[Prayers of lament] represent the last refusal to let go of the God who may seem to be absent or worse – uncaring. If this is true, then lament expresses one of the most intimate moments of faith – not a denial of it. It is supreme honesty before a God whom my faith tells me I can trust. He encourages me to bring everything as an act of worship, my disappointment, frustration, and even my hate.” Lament is powerful, beautiful, painful, and it is not a lack of faith.
Peace be with you.