While browsing through my old files on my computer, I found something that made me smile: the essay I had to write to explain to Southern Adventist University why I desired to obtain my master degree from Southern. I share it below because it’s an awesome testimony of what God is doing in my life (written April 2013):
Why Southern Adventist University?
Early this year, I had completed my bachelor’s degree in Psychology at University of Phoenix Online Campus. Prior to this completion, my desire was to become a counselor. This desire has been a personal goal for several years. Noting that I needed a master’s degree to become a counselor, I had reviewed the American Mental Health Counselors Association standards for the practice of clinical mental health counseling. Because I had noticed that Southern University had the accreditations, curriculum, and semester hours needed to fulfill the standards, I desire to receive my education from Southern University.
I had encouraged fellow Seventh Day Adventist young ladies during my short time at Hartland College. This motivation originated from viewing how one young lady appeared sad after I had anonymously given her a note of rebuke. I was a “new believer” and therefore lacked the comprehension of the Holy Spirit’s transformation of one into a new creature. Instead, I was prone to reprove and rebuke so the individual would attempt to change him or herself into something new. Upon seeing how depressed this one young lady looked after the rebuke I had given her by note, I was motivated to fix quickly the emotional pain I had caused.
The previous years of elementary school came to mind. During elementary, I was blessed to have a few girl classmates who were into arts and crafts. We exchanged letter and note crafting ideas and I had kept the concept of intimate sharing in mind. While at Hartland College, I had used flowers from the local area and notes of Biblical promises to encourage the one young lady. In the note, I explained that God was working in her life to become the young lady He desired her to be. This action became a habit as I continued to leave flowers and God’s promises around for other young ladies to read at Hartland College.
I know how it is to be the receiver of encouragement. Upon viewing how happy and self-determined the young ladies at Hartland College became because someone showed that he or she cared, I was inspired to continue to remain compassionate. It took me a while to remove the mental scales of bias in connection to the school of psychology. Prior to reading the textbooks for my associates degree in Psychology, I thought psychology only included the theories of Sigmund Freud! Once those rash ideas were erased, I saw how in theory negative behaviors could be changed into something positive. I desired to help those who wanted to change their behaviors.
Originally, I had desired to work with children. I loved studying about the mind and child development. The reason was because it appeared that it is easier to change the behaviors of a child versus an adult. However, recalling my confusing teenage years, I regressed to wanting to counsel the latter adolescent years. I want to work with those who have low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. I believe Southern Adventist University can give me the tools to achieve my goal.
People who come to know me realize I am a thinker. Others who watched me grow up assumed that I was shy. However, I often found myself in awkward social moments that caused me to display mild anxiety. Therefore, unable to comprehend how I ought to carry myself in certain circumstances, I appeared shy when in actuality I may have been scared to death that I would perform a social “no-no.”
During my teenage years, I was labeled stuck up. This was another social misunderstanding. My natural aloofness was a result of the thinker personality. In addition, my introvert personality causes me to avoid high stimulant areas to reduce the chance of a mental overload. As a result, I avoided large social gathering and was therefore labeled stuck up until I learned how to cope in such situations.
With those traits in mind, it may sound odd to say I am also a helper. Shortly after Capital City Seventh Day Adventist church had an evangelistic crusade in the Natomas area in 1999, many youth from Capital City were inspired to go into diverse areas of America to pursue missionary work. Between attempts of obtaining training in the areas of medical missionary work (at Hartland College and M.E.E.T. Ministry), I was asked by a few friends to help them with literature evangelism and Bible work. As I had helped them, the events helped me to gain self worth and social skills as well as the opportunity to share encouragement to my fellow workers. Prior to this, I was still getting to know who I was in Christ: a jewel worth His time to polish.
My personality styles of a thinker and a helper were united when I realized my interest with the mind of people instead of only the physical well being. This dismissed the medical missionary attempted and increased the desire to help people with their individual situations. I wanted to be a part of their reasoning process as God desires to come together and reason with us as individuals (Isaiah 1:18). More of this will be explained later on in the “My World View” selection.
I was born into a Christian home. My father, [name has been removed], was a Methodist Episcopal whereas my mother, [name has been removed], was a Seventh Day Adventist. I attended both churches for a while. I recalled the ending of attending the Methodist church was because my father had stopped attending himself. This was shortly after my paternal grandmother had passed away.
Although most of my maternal side of the family was attending Capital City Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California, I lacked the knowledge of the basic Seventh Day Adventist beliefs. Upon learning them during an evangelistic crusade, I had felt cheated and hurt. I was sitting on a gold mine of information but failed to learn the entire truth, as in history and doctrine, until I was 17 years old! For a while, I resented my maternal side of the family but came to understand that obtaining knowledge of Christian truth is an individual thing and ought to refrain from hating those who failed to take time to teach me.
Both sides of my family have strong Christian roots. We are spiritually bond to our Maker. Both sides have helper personalities and a history of humanitarianism. To obtain my master’s in clinical mental health counseling would be help my fellow humankind. If my grandparents would have known I would tread this road, they would have smiled and encouraged me to take this journey.
My World View
Prior to attending Hartland College, one section of the Bible had grabbed my attention. I understood that once I had allowed the Holy Spirit to do His job in my heart, I would be able to present the gospel in a practical way; similar to how Jesus presented the love of the Father while He walked on the earth. The verses were the following:
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
Upon understanding that this was the verse that Jesus had quoted while in the synagogue, I understood that as Christians, Christ’s representatives on earth, I had a duty to address such similar situations with fellow human beings. This was also confirmed during a time when I was helping a group in Maryland, called The Wedge. A friend, one of the fellow workers with this group, happened to have an audio series by Drs. Ron and Nancy Rockey; called “In it to Win It.” The series were based in how Satan desires to damage anything that has Christ in it; including people.
Accepting that people are either born damaged or placed in a situation that will allow Satan to attempt to damage the person (physically, mentally, or spiritually), I desired to be a part of the movement of healing those damaged souls. This type of world view has equipped me with the motivation to become a counselor. I want to set them free of the mental bonds that they are wearing. As a result of setting the people free from such burdens, my Father in Heaven will be glorified.
In understanding that people are diverse, I have learned to be flexible in responding to and meeting the needs of people with a different value system, spiritual perspective, or cultural difference from myself. I embrace diversity because I was different from my peers while growing up. It was quite difficult to speak with others that had different spiritual perspectives. However, I came to understand God allows bits and pieces of truth to shine upon the perspectives of others on a continual basis. I want to share small tokens of God’s love and mercy in their time of need, pray for the person on my personal time, and allow the Holy Spirit to impart Bible truths in due time. Addressing the need is my focus and I will avoid forcing people to accept my spiritual views.
Personal Self Care
I also believe taking care of self is crucial to retaining counselor wellness. Mental and physical exercise is important. Temperance in the things that are good, such as food intake, is also important. One must have the right amount of sleep to refrain from irritability and to maintain the ability for information retention.
When I realize I am presented with a stressor, I take deep breaths and count to 10. I remember that yelling or similar behaviors often make the situation worse so I pray to God to keep me from displaying inappropriate behavior. When applicable, I remove myself from the stressor. If this action is unavailable, I remind myself this situation will pass and will treat myself to a massage, bubble bath, or a positive outlet.
Because the graduate program may be demanding, I will use the above personal self care tips as well as to seek social support. Keeping a web blog is also a positive reinforcement for one can recall how God revealed His power in difficult situations. With the writings of adversity and triumphant written down so closely together, one can be certain that God will display His mighty hand once again.
Strengths and Weaknesses
According to an Ethics Awareness Inventory, my ethical awareness inventory scoring summary was high on obligation. My ethical perspective is based “on an individual’s duty or obligation to do what is morally right” (The Williams Institute, 2008, p. 2). Because of this perspective, I often look to find what a person’s intent was instead of focusing on the result of the matter. Here is where the thinker personality can often get one into trouble. My ethical style causes me to avoid supporting policies that deny the right of individualism. I believe in fostering personal growth instead of dismissing it for the sake of social structure. However, personal growth has to avoid trampling over the law of God: love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbors as yourself.
My weakness allows me to know that I have room for growth. I desire to learn how to refrain from over thinking. In addition, I realize that the right choice for an individual may appear the wrong choice for social structure. Moral decisions can be difficult to ascertain. Fasting and prayer may be needed to gain the knowledge of what action is best. I am reminded that when I am weak, God is strong. I will rely on God’s strength and wisdom when my weakness may be a hindrance to effectiveness while enrolled in the clinical mental health counseling program at Southern University.