My first counseling job after graduation was at a voluntary residential substance abuse treatment program/half way house. And by volunteer I mean volunteer to go to treatment or get sentenced to jail. I’ll never forget my first day. I wore tan Coach kitten heels and Seven jeans while I transported clients from the County Jail and watched a couple dozen women pee in a plastic cup. Needless to say I was over dressed (but the kitten heels, so cute). That was me.
I was thinking about the old versus the somewhat improved me, as I read through Luke 14:7-11. Verse 8 says, “ When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.” When I first started counseling in my Coach heels I was taking the seat of honor. Not only had I gone to school to get the degree I had also lived through addiction and therefore thought I had all the knowledge and put myself in a position to dispense it. As I matured in my role I realized that I didn’t deserve the seat of honor and that I was NOT the most distinguished guest.
My second counseling job was working with families who had a child with a severe mental health diagnosis. This was a program through community mental health so many of our families were disadvantaged and had been beaten up by the system. Ours was an in-home program meaning we went into the clients house and did our sessions in their own environment. Sometimes that environment was a suburban home, other times it was a mobile home, occasionally it was a jail or psychiatric facility, and sometimes it was a motel room. I loved that job.
It was in those motel rooms, apartments, and psych wards that I truly experienced verse 11 for the first time in my life, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” I never wore the Coach heels at this job and I never pretended that my education or my perceived status entitled me to a place of honor. I had learned from my Coach heel days that I didn’t know the first thing about other peoples lives or experiences. Instead of coming in as the “expert” I made an effort to go in as a servant. In the few years that I worked in that program I learned more about life, resilience, hope, faith, determination, and compassion than I could ever have learned in a college text book. I was humbled by the privilege to go into someone’s home, whatever kind of home that may be, each week and try to figure out the tough stuff of life with them. And I has honored and exalted for the opportunity to intimately know some of the most amazing people I will ever meet in my life.
By the way, while I think I am somewhat reformed I still wear Coach heels (I love them and am very short so cut a girl a break).
What have you learned through humble service? What comments do you have on Luke 14 or 15?
Tomorrow I will start reading Luke 16 and 17