So crazy times tonight, we went over the CEDAR Clinic manual in my practicum class, which for all you non-counselor education majors that means that I get to see real clients this semester with real problems. REAL clients. REAL problems. Interestingly enough, even though I go to mass every week, I have decided that this semester when I can make it that I will go to daily mass. The first thing I thought of when the fact that I would be talking to real people about their real problems was that I needed to pray about this situation.
If you know nothing about me, you know that I don’t talk religion very often if at all because I like respecting everyone’s beliefs and not forcing my own morals and beliefs on others. However, if you do know me, I can be spiritual. I just may not always show this overtly to everyone in hopes that they won’t think I’m some crazy Catholic who has an interesting family make-up.
When I say I go to church every week, I mean it. I have went since I was a baby and have only missed a handful of times because I was sick or other circumstances held me from going. It’s not just a ritual, though at times in my life it has felt that way. It’s one hour out of the week that I don’t look at my phone, I don’t text, I am in the moment. I sometimes, though, have the worst listening skills and then I try to remember what the readings were about. Sometimes the priest interests me and sometimes they don’t. That’s a fact of life. Even though sometimes people may say that Catholics just memorize everything and they “get a lot of exercise,” I can’t help but wonder what their experience of the Catholic church has been.
Being a Roman Catholic means that I speak a universal language. If I go to Clearfield, PA or State College, PA or Pittsburgh, PA or Topeka, KS, or San Francisco, CA, I will get the same mass. Not in terms of preaching because everyone’s style is different, but in wording. I know when to sit, to stand, and when to say what because it is a universal language that I’ve grown up speaking. That is comforting to me. Very comforting, actually. I like knowing what’s happening, so maybe this faith was made for me. Actually maybe Polish National Catholic was made for me. You know why? Two reasons…and this is no party rap song where I’m talking about the bitches and the drinks. First of all, married priests. Second of all, general absolution.
If you know me, the first is an obvious thing…I’m not going to get into that at the moment. But general absolution, it’s a great thing. All other protestant religions for the most part believe in general absolution, and hey, as being a PNCC, you even get it at every mass! This is telling God that you are sorry for your sins (not using the priest as the third party between you and God). I’d much rather tell God directly what I’ve done and genuinely feel sorry about it than tell a priest and feel like I’m being judged. A priest isn’t an LPC, and you would be lucky if they knew who Carl Rodgers was. It’s definitely no kind of therapeutic alliance in the confessional, especially when you’re a scared to death second grader. Believe me, I know.
Anyway, back to counseling real people with real problems and praying about it. I may not be the most outwardly spiritual person, but there’s definitely a more well formed opinion inside of my religion and my spirituality. It changes from time to time and sometimes I’m more connected to it than others, but I sincerely try to live as a Christian in my everyday life.
This new endeavor scares me. It instills a type of fear and anxiety that I don’t because it is something new. What will I do when I see my first client? Will I freeze? Will they like me? Will I talk too much? Will I not be able to help them? All these questions come up and that’s why I want to pray about this. Even if I don’t get an answer, I’ll have comfort in knowing that I got those feelings off my chest to my higher power.
I may not be the most spiritual and religious person in the world, but it doesn’t mean that the values and the thoughts aren’t there. There’s an artist, Matthew West, who has a whole album which I swear about 70% of the album is my life. He has a song that is called “Strong Enough.” The lyrics go, “I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be, I give up, I’m not strong enough, hands of mercy, won’t you cover me, Lord right now I’m asking you to be strong enough, strong enough, for the both of us.” This says it all about how I feel about this counseling experience. It is going to challenging, yet fulfilling, and with some help, I can get through it. Resiliency.