Since work continues to be a source of stress, I decided that it would be helpful to talk to a counselor. Mainly, I just wanted confirmation that I am doing all that I should be and not more than I should be.
The counselor was very professional and the meeting went by in a flash. It took quite a while just to catch her up on the unusual situation. I got a little shaky when I was trying to tell the counselor that I feel that I am putting more pressure on myself than anybody else is. Otherwise, it was pretty much just an informational meeting to get the facts out there. The counselor was interested to see how I was doing in terms of grieving. I told her that that part seemed to be under control. Talking with everybody, writing out my thoughts, and everybody's prayers helped me to get through that much of the struggle. Now, it's the ongoing unsteady footing that's proving to be the challenge. The counselor gave me a couple of homework assignments and we scheduled another meeting at the end of June. I was asked to make three lists:
1. Skills that I've gained relating to my work, skills that I would like to have, and where I see myself in three years.
2. Things that are under my control, and things that are not under my control.
3. The duties that I see as pertaining to my current work (not what's on my resume or job description, but what I feel that they are).
Mmm, that seemed like a good, productive introspective activity. We're trying to set boundaries so I do all that needs to be done without wearing myself down in the process. I think the list of things in/not in my control will be especially helpful, since I seem to worry about all things and not just those things that I have direct control over. The list of skills will no doubt give me some encouragement to see where I've grown and also to see where I can proactively develop my professional experience. I started the exercises and I'm looking forward to completing them over the next few weeks.
Now, I have to admit - the opening line of my post is not exactly accurate. I have seen a counselor before - but I was just a young child at the time, and so I hardly remember what all we talked about. I do remember sitting outside her office with chocolate Oreo cookies and blocks while the employees walked past me in the halls and smiled at me. I also remember walking with the counselor past the indoor water pool for a popsicle or ice cream before we talked. Those times are dim in my memory, but they bring to mind a very pleasant atmosphere.
Finally, in the coming weeks our local church is starting a new series of "core seminars" - meetings before the Sunday service. They always offer a couple different class series to choose from. I'm looking forward to attending a series of seminars about the "fear of man". I pray that it will help me to feel less anxious around others at work and in other real life environments. I have a very strong tendency to feel that I need to please people, so I hope that I will learn to live healthily around others - loving and serving them not out of fear but out of love for them as people who were made in God's image.
Before I close, I just couldn't help but think about one of the counselor's questions on my walk home from work. Where do I see myself in three years? Will this critical gap here at work have been fulfilled and leveled by then? Will the pillar of fire and cloud pick up and move on ahead to new ground? I don't know for sure, but I do feel that I am still a tabernacle tent in the desert and not yet grounded as the stone temple. God will lead in His time :) For now, His presence has settled here over the Library and so I hold fast the tent and keep the lamps lit.
Man's steps are ordained by the LORD,
How then can man understand his way?
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me...