One of the things that I do for myself to maintain my sanity, which is questionable some days, is read a daily devotional and Bible passage every morning. The other morning I came across a really interesting story in 1 Kings 19:1-13. Here’s a brief synopsis: Elijah’s running away because Jezebel’s threatening to kill him. In the process, Elijah tells God, “I have had enough, Lord.” God replies to him in a gentle whisper and says, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” This story reminded me of one of my favorite counseling theories: existentialism. I love this theory because it challenges clients to take full responsibility of their choices. This freedom of choice helps them find meaning when all meaning appears lost. I believe Elijah faced a moment of meaninglessness in the previously mentioned scripture. People wanted to kill him, so he ran away, but in the process of running away, he lost sight of his life’s purpose. When he asked for help, God responded with a question instead of providing an explanation, which forced Elijah to reflect upon his actions and choices and find that meaning he so desperately needed. As counselors, I believe that we should pose the same challenging question to our clients. We need to ask them, “What are you doing here?” This question can come across as rude or harsh, but I think if we ask it in a “gentle whisper,” then we can really make some progress with those clients who feel lost. Also, after reading that story, I found myself reflecting upon that question when I felt anxious or stressed. Like any graduate student, I sometimes think, “I’ve had enough. Can this semester end already?” Instead of continuing that negative self-talk, I now ask myself, “What are you doing here, Courtnay? What’s your purpose?” I am then able to find my life’s meaning at times when that meaning seems to dissipate. I am refreshed and renewed. It's amazing that we can offer that same refreshment and renewal to our clients. What a wonderful field of work we have.
Courtnay Veazey is a graduate student at Mississippi State University pursuing a Master of Science in clinical mental health counseling and working as a graduate assistant at MSU’s Career Center