the gift in giving


Lately I’ve been mentally and emotionally running on empty, with minimal opportunity to refuel myself. Partly due to circumstances, partly due to my own internal struggles, however I won’t spend time elaborating.

Because today, I was encouraged. Even though I’ve been feeling emotionally burned out, I prayed to God, “Lord, even though I don’t have much to give in my current state, let me be a source of encouragement for my clients today. May you fill me and give me the strength to be a Giver.”

And miraculously, I was able to be present with my clients in our sessions despite my own personal struggles, listen and emote with them, intervene to the best of my ability. As I was doing an intake, a client said to me, “I want you to tell your supervisor that I think you’re terrific. You’ve been such a help to me and I really hope you, and your supervisor, acknowledge how terrific you are.”

At the time, I told her that I was glad to be of help to her. But as I reflected later, her words slowly sank in and touched me in a special way. I began crying, because I saw how even at my very weakest, God still uses me and wields His light through me. I was humbled as I saw how much I needed Him to get through the day.

Yet I was also encouraged. I realized that you don’t always need to be the Taker to get what you want… that you can, paradoxically, receive so much in simply giving. That sometimes, God will work in your heart as you heed His call and attend to others before yourself. Maybe there is a deep filling in that, that many of us don’t realize or have not yet experienced.

Today, it was my own source for recharge.



Unresolved feelings. Loose ends. Throbbing scars. Heavy silences. Suffocating gloom.

There are the things that come to mind when I think of my hometown.

Last week, I went back to my hometown partly to visit an old friend, but also to seek resolution, to breathe new life into a tattered story left hanging, to re-acquiant myself with an older version of me, one that I have been trying to deny for years after I left. If I were being honest with myself, I have been trying to prove to myself, and to those people of my past, that contrary to what I was made to believe by everyone around me, that I am worth something, that there was more to me than what they believed.

But I see now that that was a fool’s errand. As I sat at a coffee shop, staring pensively out of the window at the glum clouds and barren desert, I arrived at the conclusion that has been staring at me in the face for a long while: what I am looking for is not in the place where I grew up.

Resolution resides within myself.

Case in point. I continue to live out my past in the things I do, the decisions I make, the way I perceive the world, myself and the people I encounter. The fears, detachment, anger, voicelessness, inner suffering, despair… these things live inside of me, and nowhere else. The only logical conclusion then is that the healing I seek therefore must be instigated from within.

Since I was young and up until I was 21, I lived a numb existence and hated myself, mechanically tearing wounds into my heart and soul in the way others have done to me. Despite all that has passed, my resolution became clear to me. I must love myself and believe in my worth in its entirety. I can only become whole if I accept all parts of me, including those parts of my past that I hate and attempt to forget or reject. I must put each piece of me back together, and say, “You did the best you could with what you had. You hung in there. I love you and accept you, exactly as you are.

We cannot self-actualize, reach our potential, be who we are meant to be, until we accept and love our whole selves. Before I thought moving on and focusing on the present and future were all that mattered. Yet to embody true self-love, you must accept everything about you, including your past mistakes, failures, and all of those “ugly” bits, and tell yourself, it is all beautiful. I am beautiful. And I accept all of these imperfections as perfectly me. I can still do so much with my imperfect self.

Telling ourselves this is difficult if we do not readily believe it. But it is part of the healing process. We fake it till we make it.

For the rest of my visit in my small, desert hometown, I held onto young Anna’s hand with gentle care, and kept reminding her that no one else defines us now. Not our past, all those people we knew, or even this town. We are in control, and we are beautiful. We’ve got this.