Best and Worst

photo by DebbyHudson available on Unsplash

“What’s been the worst experience of your life?” 

I ask this question during my first session with the men who have come to seek shelter. Perhaps hope. Maybe even change.

Sometimes their answer grips my heart as I hear of abuses suffered and scars carried far too long. Tragic home life. Years of incarceration. More years of emptiness.

This question is followed up by “What’s been the best experience of your life?” Often it’s the birth of a child. 

These two questions floated through my thoughts as I wondered what my answers would be. 

My parents divorce. 

Mama’s dementia that took her away from us.

Not knowing the seriousness of daddy’s hospitalization shortly before he died.

I can think of other not good things but surely these are the worst. Yet, nothing like so many experience.

There are so many bests: birth of our children, sharing life with a man far too good to me, parents who taught me about Jesus, accepting Jesus, having purpose.

Face to face with those I counsel I sit quiet as they consider their answers. At times I confirm the difficulties they’ve encountered. I affirm the joys they count. These questions are basics they’ll all be asked. It’s more for my insight as we continue in their counseling. A touchpoint perhaps of underlying issues. Where can we find hope through all of this ugliness? Through all of the pain and hurt?

It can be a difficult journey when you’ve not had a decent map to follow. It can be equally difficult to change your course, to veer from the way you’ve been shown. 

We pray at the end of each session, rather I pray for them, over them. Earnest prayers for God’s strength to envelop them. I thank God for his grace, mercy, and love. Affirm God’s love for them. It’s my best I can give. They’ve seen too much of the worst.

What makes your list? Your worst and best? So often the worst comes to mind first and wants to obscure the best. Don’t let it. The worst is a reminder not our direction. The best is where we set our focus. 

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 

Count Your Blessings – John Oatman, 1897

7 thoughts on “Best and Worst

  1. That old hymn, Count Your Blessings, that you closed your post with reminded me of some of my best times. My maternal grandmother, who died when I was 10, taught me that song and many others when we would sit together on her rocking chair singing them over and over again. Blessed memory.

    1. I grew up with those old hymns. Their words have stayed with me. I read recently that the new praise/worship music changes so often most won’t have the staying power of the old ones. I do like the blend of old and new. We share precious memories of these old hymns.

  2. How lucky are those who receive your prayers and your counsel. I especially connect with the difficult journey and the map I was given. Thank you.

  3. Debby, your description of your counseling times warm my heart. I can’t begin to imagine all the lives you’ve touched by your warmth, your wisdom, your sensitivity. May God give you many more opportunities to give hope through these kind of conversations.

    1. Thank you, Linda. You know as well as I that these times never fail to bring a deeper understanding of God’s grace for all of us. What a gift!

  4. Bests are easy, worsts are hard. But in thinking them over, it’s the worsts that made me better or rather closer to who I want to be. Such excellent questions and thank you for a glimpse into your world of helping others heal. What a privilege to have a front row seat to watching God move in their life.

    1. It is, indeed, a privilege. Some days I need to remind myself of that more often.

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