By Beth M. Broom, LPC-S, CCTS-I
Counseling survivors of trauma is grueling work. There’s so much beauty in the process, but it’s not tidy. Sometimes I finish a day and sense that I’m spiritually and emotionally spent, with nothing left to give. I can sense this feeling pretty easily, but I often don’t sense the weight of the fact that I bear witness to the ugliness of sin every time I hear a story of abuse or loss.
In her book In Our Lives First, Diane Langberg exhorts counselors that “…sin is contagious…Those who work with infectious diseases must keep in mind the fact that they can catch the disease they are trying to cure or ease if they are not careful. This principle is not limited to the physical realm. The roots of those sins we find abhorrent in others lie within us as well. If we are not aware of this, then we have fallen into deception and foolishness.”
Langberg offers these two questions to ask ourselves as counselors:
- What specific dangers to your soul are at present in your work today?
- What will you do to protect yourself from these dangers?
I don’t know how you would answer the first question. For me, the greatest dangers are self-righteous judgment and pride. My mind wants to quickly accuse, convict and sentence abusers to great punishment for the ways they’ve damaged others. In my pride, I sometimes neglect to put the Holy Spirit in the middle of my work. (Great news – He’s in charge whether I put Him there or not. But my intentionality in placing Him in the middle fixes my eyes in the right direction.)
What will we do to protect ourselves from the dangers of sin? Two things I’d like to suggest: First, we must be with others who also love and serve Jesus. We need each other. Second, we must be intentional about coming before God’s throne and asking Him to consecrate us for the work and cleanse us from the infectious sin that we encounter. I’m going to offer two prayers we can pray: one for consecration, and one for cleansing. I encourage you to get familiar with them and plan to pray them as you begin and end your week of work.
The prayers of consecration and cleansing are available to CTHN members.