Not too long ago, I spent a week power washing my back deck.  Yes, it was July in Missouri.  So, yes, it was hot and sticky and the mosquitos were swarming.  Why did it take a week?  Well, after hour number one, I realized the maximum amount of time I could run the power washer was about 90 minutes.  At that point, I was sore, tired, and splattered with mud.  Five days of early-morning, 90-minute sessions taught me a lot about why I had never picked up a power washer wand before that week and also reminded me that counseling and power washing have more in common than we might think.

At first glance, my deck appeared just fine.  I mean, I had looked at it for nine years and there was some age-related wear and tear, but obviously, nothing too hideous to cause me to do something about it.  Around hour number five of managing that powerful power washer wand, I began to see the toll the weather and scurrying animals and little human feet and Missouri sun had had on the once-clean and smooth wood.  Yikes!

Isn’t this how life is sometimes?  We’re just going about our day-to-day, noticing that some things that used to be easy are a little more difficult, a couple relationships have fizzled, our job is just the job that pays the bills, and we feel tired.  (Not the 11:59 p.m. tired, but the 7:45 p.m. is-it-bedtime-yet tired).

So we do some things to ease the tension and return to our former level of comfortable living.  We read the latest and greatest self-help book, we increase our dose of daily Vitamin D supplements, we add a Body Pump class to our gym routine, and we turn our electronic devices off an hour before our head hits the pillow.  All great things!  We feel the relief…for a few days.  And then it’s back; that nagging, “something isn’t right” feeling and “I don’t know what to do next” thought.

I’m reminded of that moment I realized, “My deck is really dirty.  For nine years, I didn’t even see it!”  Because if we’re honest, when we’re knee-deep living life, we have a hard time seeing what’s going on in between the soccer games and client presentations and upcoming 50th birthday party for our partner, the most important person in our life.

A counselor can help us see underneath the layers of life. I say “us” because yes, I mean me, too.   Sometimes the muck and grime builds and builds and builds and even though everything on the outside of us looks just fine, we’re struggling to breathe on the inside.

When’s the last time you scheduled an hour of your week to sit across from someone who will just listen to you, maybe even nod sometimes, and fully accept and even understand the layers of life you desperately want to unfold?  That’s what a counselor does.  What about sharing a burden that feels so heavy you’re not even sure how to explain the complexity to another human, let alone, an almost-stranger?  A counselor helps you find the words.  Then there’s that one time, the first time in a very long time, when you experience a small victory at work and almost feel ashamed to talk to about it.  A counselor celebrates with you.

Your first counseling session may be like my first few hours of power washing.  It’s hard work.  It’s scary.  It’s confusing.  It’s a little bit exhilarating.  And for some reason, you want to try it again.  (After you rest a bit).  With each pass of the wand, each session in your counselor’s office, another layer gets pushed back.  As you see more dirt wash away, your counselor sees the clean, original grain of the boards peeking through.  We work together to get down there together.

So.  Can counseling help you?  Yes.  Counseling can help you.  Counseling can help you because your counselor is in the business of helping you.  At Individual, Marriage and Family Enrichment, your counselor wants to know you; wants to know your world and how it works and what you live for and what you struggle to understand.  We want to be with you in your day-to-day.

We know that underneath all the beautiful wood stain and stylish exterior carpet, underneath the chipping boards and rusty nails, there’s a person inside you that wants to be known and heard and understood and loved.  We also know that as a society, we do not do the knowing and hearing and understanding and loving very well for each other.  Life gets in the way.  And let’s be honest; showing each other our layers and knowing our neighbor’s layers can be uncomfortable.  We don’t know what to say or do or how to act.  And then we feel guilty for not being the person we want to be for our friend and very much alone not having the friend we need.

Counseling can help you.  We’re all in this together.  We all struggle and we all rejoice.  Sometimes we just need a person who can pick up that heavy, power washer wand and encourage us to keep at it.  If today is your day, give us a call at 573-228-6702 or fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you soon.

Written by Lauren Eisleben