In the classroom teachers tell students to come with a “ready to learn” attitude, allowing their minds to soak in the lessons of the day. What would happen if we approached life with that same “ready to learn” attitude. With God as our teacher, how many lessons might we learn when the willingness and openness are ever present in our minds and in our hearts?
Several years ago I worked as a Marriage, Family, Child Counselor Intern with a number of college students at a near-by university. Most of my clients were freshman adjusting to living away from home for the first time and making all their own decisions. Sometimes those decisions landed students on academic probation, leaving them panicked about being dismissed from college, and in terror of telling their parents. Others struggled through negotiating boundaries and privacy issues with the strangers they now called roommates. Many just felt overwhelmed by the enormity of navigating college and balancing school, work, and their new-found social life. In general, the majority of my clients were passing through some form transitory adjustment disorder. Then Sparkles walked into the counseling office.
A first generation college student, Sparkles (Sparks for short) was a “B” average student, plugging away at her under division classes, and trying to decide what major to declare. She described herself as an eternal optimist, always cheerful, and always putting a positive spin into every situation. She earned the nickname “Sparkles” by her friends, which perfectly suited her bubbly personality. To the outside world, Sparkles looked like a happy-go-lucky college student, but looks often deceive, because Sparkles was far from a happy college student.
Since early childhood, Sparkles endured various forms of abuse by both her parents until moving away from home and becoming an emancipated minor at age 14, supporting herself while completing high school. Upon graduation, ready to embrace a new life, Sparks moved over 100 miles away to attend college. However, despite her efforts to remain optimistic, she felt the “sparkle” within her spirit diminish, replaced by a growing rage toward life, turning her joy into a state of constant anger. Sparkles sought counseling to gain control over this increasing anger, with a primary focus on finding the courage to retroactively report her abuse to authorities, a common step in the healing process. Although she no longer maintained any contact with her parents, she still feared them. While we worked toward healing, her friend gave Sparkles a Bible, telling her it she might find some answers if she was ready. Although not a Christian at that time, Sparks opened the book to a random page and read the following passage:
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
The message came to Sparkles at a time while she was “ready to learn.” During our next session, she looked at me with genuine sincerity and said, “I want to forgive them.” As time moved on, the challenge proved more difficult than she imagined However, each time she found a new way in heart to forgive, a small bit of twinkle returned to her eyes, and her joyful presence grew. By Christmas break she summoned all her courage to call her parents and speak only three words to them. “I forgive you.”
Now, each time I see sparkles, be it shimmering spots of sunlight on the water, or headlights on a rainy wet roadway, I’m reminded of how the Holy Spirit spoke to Sparkles one afternoon, and how the message transformed her life. God always speaks, but are we always ready to listen?
Mrs. Rutman holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Career Counseling, both from Chapman University. She brings over 15 years of experience in career development, internship coordination, and academic advising to SVC. She was drawn to SVC for the faith-based and family-like environment which allows her to utilize her talents in a manner which serves the Lord, as well as helps to prepare students for success in school and into the future. In her spare time, she enjoys paddleboarding, kayaking, cooking, scrapbooking, writing, and photography.
You may reach Mrs. Rutman at firstname.lastname@example.org.