Counselling is a quiet respectful ministry at St Luke’s.  It needs to be but not so much that you don’t know about us or what we do.  Perhaps it helps to think of it like this:  each of our lives is its own story, a journey with people coming and going, happenings coming and going – some beautiful some less so. Beginnings shaped by parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, teachers and later husband, wives, children, grandchildren, in-laws and so, we live and love and learn.  School, university, work, church and many other activities both wonderful and woeful whirl around us – God, duty, achievement, grace, disappointment.  It’s a lot.  It’s interesting, complicated – unique –our very own.

And then, we hit a challenge: could be dramatic and evident like a death, divorce, crime, high jacking, an accident, illness growing addiction or just a seeping deadness, a lack of energy, confusion, discomfort in this place where we stand and look around and find it makes us despair, seethe with anger, weep with sadness or maybe just feel nothing.  We pray, we breathe deeply, visit a loved one, go for a walk, busy ourselves and sometimes it helps but sometimes it is useful to reflect with someone, tell our way of being to someone outside of our circle.  This slows our thoughts to the spoken word and opens them up to another to relook at those hard and hurtful things that are part of long ago and now.

Counselling gets a bad wrap in general with poor jokes about shrinks and “how does that make you feel?” and in the church because prayer and God should be enough.

Well, God made us to be in relationship-with Him, each other and ourselves.  Jesus was the ultimate counsellor – I always think seeking counselling is brave – making a step to break a pattern, move forward, change, see things differently. Stoicism has its place but it can also be a place to hide.

Let’s think of Jesus (Mark 10:46-52) walking along that dusty road with His followers outside Jericho.  Here Bartimaeus the blind man sits, hears, smells, feels and dreams of seeing.  Jesus is coming, he has heard about Him, it’s his chance…he wont be dismissed, “Son of David, have mercy on me,” he says.    Jesus hears and knows exactly what is wrong with Bartimeaus and what he wants and yet calls him over and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”  Jesus is not presuming. In a way He will be taking away Bartimaeus’s livelihood, a seeing beggar would after all not make much of a living, but Bart replies, “Rabbi, I want to see” and so He sees and follows Jesus.  I always find the respect of that question and the choice of that answer so remarkable.   Bartimaeus’s story is forever changed.

Seeking counselling is a choice.  It may make for a beautiful and dramatic change or quiet steady growth.  It’s available to everyone regardless of their religion, place in life or their story.

As Anglicare counsellors we are all trained and licensed by the Bishop of Johannesburg, bound by high ethical standards, receive constant training, understand confidentiality and above all believe and have experienced the value of the process of counselling. While privacy is respected, it is possible to be counselled in another Parish if you would prefer.

If something of this resonates with you or one you know, you are welcome to contact us.   There are pamphlets with more information at the back of the church, we are often mentioned in the pew bulletin and our number is very easy to remember (011) 728 8888.

Diana Lawrenson