Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Make your life count

     I had an inspiring conversation today in social work school with a fellow I had not met before and a friend we both had in common.  There are a few things I learned from it as we shared certain experiences with one another.  Particularly he shared part of his life story and I was in awe at how he was able to put it all into perspective.  The conversation began with the challenges we have had to face as students of color in a predominantly white institution. Its a hard reality that even in social work school, students of color are marginalized.  Yet no matter how difficult things may get, we must strive to continue our education.  We also talked about the messages we tend to receive from people in our lives, and how those messages don't always resonate with us in that moment.  Yet as we live life and have different experiences those messages begin to give our lives meaning.  This fellow told a story about back when he was growing up one of his professors said to him "boy, you gotta make your life count." He talked about not having any idea what the professor meant at that time, but how meaningful those words are to him now.  They may have sounded like simple words then,  but eventually they brought meaning into his life.

  What I took from the conversation were a few things.  First of all, you never know how God is going to use you to carry His message and to manifest His glory through your life.  Second of all, what we may see at one point in our life as a curse, will later turn out to be a blessing because we were able to see the bigger picture.  I say this because the fellow talked about his experience being in prison for a crime he did not commit.  Finally, one of the social work theories I keep coming across is the "use of self".  The idea that someone can take their life experiences and use them to empower and do good unto others is very powerful.  This fellow decided to become educated in prison and after serving time he dedicated his life to serving others.  It makes me realize that its not always about what you go through, it's what you do with what you go through.  As social workers, we never know what journey our clients have been through.  This is why it is so important to LISTEN, its the only way to be able to validate a client's story and collaboratively help the client give it meaning.  One thing my friend mentioned in the conversation was a good exercise to use to help empower clients and that is to think of them as their "highest self."  Once we picture them as their "highest self" we can empower in a way as if they have already reached it.

As future social workers we have to be aware that we are wounded healers.  The fellow in the conversation brought this up and referred to it as "working with our wounds."  He shared another experience with us about how taking a class one time where he learned about the origins of comedy.  In the process he mentioned Richard Pryor...good ole Richard Pryor.  I thought this was important to mention because Richard Pryor is a prime example of a wounded healer.  He was a really great comedian who addressed really important issues in his time in such a unique way.  He was very genuine and talented.  Yet I wonder how many people knew his story.  He is also a prime example of someone who was able to use himself in such a way to bring healing through laughter to so many people around the world.  I wonder if someone he encountered in his life said to him, "boy, you gotta make your life count."

Here is a sneak peek at one of Pryor's comedy clips:

Some things I am grateful to God for today:
  • for all the lessons, messages, unexpected encounters and conversations with others
  • that God has brought me to such a noble profession as social work
  • to be surrounded around people who are not afraid to talk about God and spirituality.  (I thought it was interesting that this fellow I encountered said that he was not religious at all but that he has been able to live his life based on "Christian-like"principles.) 
  • remembering the book I had read long ago "The Wounded Healer"by Henri Nouwen  
  • incorporating spirituality into everything we do including our profession 
  • a safe space to share our narratives 
  • for always empowering me to make my life count
  • for Richard Pryor and his ability to persevere and truly use himself in his life's work ( I encourage you to read his life story)


1 comment:

Hil said...

thanks for sharing! your great at making each moment and encounter "count" =)