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A Few Important Lessons I Have Learned Along The "Way"
by DeBorrah K Ogans
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A Few IMPORTANT Lessons I Have LEARNED Along the Way

Years ago when I took my counseling internship, I took it in an office in the comfortable ritzy suburbs. The other portion in the homeless shelters with torn apart families, separated couples, displaced veterans, hurting people some traumatized with a multiplicity of issues and with battered and abused women. One of the shelters was in the suburbs right behind both a Mercedes Benz and Cadillac luxury car dealerships located in a vacated armory. One was located way out of the way, down across by and over on the other side of the railroad tracks in the city. One located amidst a commercial business park. What was so interesting only in the case of extreme emergency could the residents stay in the shelters during the day. They had to be out rain or shine first thing in the morning. In the suburbs they could not linger anywhere near or close to the luxury dealerships. They of course did not want their potential customers disturbed in any way by the homeless…

There was such a contrast in the various environments but not really in the overall personality dynamics. Hurting people exist in every walk of life no matter how much one might have or does not have! At the time my counseling supervisor was not too enthused about coming to the shelter at first… To be honest my home church at the time was not very receptive as well. They did not really want a lot of the homeless being brought there for counseling. No concern for worry because I went to them and eventually they set me up with a nice quaint little office… Initially the university wondered if maybe, or perhaps the environment would be a bit too harsh and…

It was here I learned the significant value of healthy boundaries as well as “One Spot” therapy! Which is a onetime counseling session. One spot simply means that when a person knows that they may have perhaps one opportunity to talk to you, and will probably not see you again. Once open they will say to you what has been stored up for years! I have heard the unimaginable... I learned to really trust the Lord during my many volunteer hours. It helped me to appreciate the value of not assuming or if you do to be readily willing to release any stereotypes. I learned here the true meaning of “ministry beyond the walls.” There is much spiritual warfare that takes place when you reach out to help those who are tormented and in much pain. There are times that anger may be projected upon you! Sometimes caring means not reacting but responding patiently… I also accompanied several clients (this is what they called the residents) on occasion along with a guard, who were 5150 sectioned to the hospital to help relieve a client who at times experienced extreme anxiety and sometimes considered volatile. 5150 Meaning they had been put under involuntary mandatory psychiatric confinement for observation for 72 hours to determine their mental state!

It is here I also learned that I naturally empathize. My concern literally drained me. My growing trust in God helped immensely and sharpened by discernment. Healthy boundaries are necessary! I learned that through this trust it was what kept me safe. I was not fearful but cautious. I so had to depend on the Lord for direction in a totally non spiritual environment! Gradually the doors opened more and more… Although I was learning the required psychology and sharpening my skills on the art of counseling, I learned that it took God in my life to help me help them. There is a big difference between Christian and secular counseling!

The Lord had blessed us greatly at the time, my husband and I had a successful Professional IT Consulting Corp with many Professional Consultants… We Also had four children in college and one in Middle school at one time… We together have traveled extensively around the world, my husband was also a Minister of Music… we both had also been in Church all of our lives and I had worked in just about every department… We both had been raised in the city and had moved to the suburbs now for quite some time ... We still continued to commute back to attend worship services and… This all served to give me a wide range of exposure to numerous varied facets of life! I knew the Lord’s call on my life at an early age and Ministry in Pastoral Counseling was my continued path of discovery…

It is important to KEEP in mind, God really does know what is going on. If you are sincerely interested in the counselee or whoever it is He will and can make a bridge between you and the counselee. Yet, you are only a part of the healing process. There were a lot of politics that took place in the shelter. Some of the residents became territorial. I settled disputes between the staff and residents. I counseled and prayed with both staff and residents. Together we planned transitional strategies, the staff worked many arduous hours and hard long days. This further helped me with the counselees that lived safely tucked away in their own various homes as well!

I was required to study many of the psychology theories and its founding fathers. There is much knowledge here. But, there are many concepts and theories in psychology that go against Christian principles. For example at the time I had to study the DSM-IV > Which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders. It is what is known as the “Psychiatric Bible. It serves to broaden one’s knowledge on clinical language and facilitates diagnosis. Which may require psychotropic interventions… One refers here, in order to professionally label a person. It contains information on hundreds of possible mental disorders! A Psychiatrist is both a Medical Doctor MD who is a specialist in mental disorders they can prescribe medications that Psychologists cannot.

As a Pastoral Counselor/Minister, I was required to have a relative understanding of the process… We as well had lessons in evaluating many of the characters in the Bible as well and seeing how they could have possible been perceived? KNOW most of the time they would have been unfavorable labeled by this criteria….I had to know about secular counseling methods to a degree, but my interest was in the spiritual aspect and how it serves to bring about “wholeness!” God can fill the void in one’s life like no other! I saw it time after time in the shelter. I also realized that many do not subscribe, respect, nor care to prescribe to this belief, nor believe in the Bible!

There is a constant change in the world as to what is right? For one, I can remember when homosexuality was considered taboo! Now, it is no longer considered by the American Medical Profession to be abnormal? We are able to see the results of what massive societal pressure can do. Now it has “come out of the closet” Now since it is so prevalent within our society it is now known and supported as “an alternative lifestyle.” This is quite interesting because, if you do not agree you can be considered to be homophobic if you are not somewhat supportive? If that is your choice, it’s your choice. But I believe all the Bible and I do not believe that it should be considered the same as Marriage which was designed by God! God’s view has not changed! What I find interesting that now many want to have the same rights and privileges as marriage! I personally find this disturbing. If this is your choice call it what it is “an alternative relationship” of the same sex. If not in agreement you can be considered judgmental and uncaring and…. We have come a long way… But have we really? Just something to really think about!

It is important to know that a lot of the research for evaluations in psychology did not include taking into consideration the cultural differences of many people of Color. So where you might be just being polite, patient and considerate it may be perceived as being distant somewhat aloof and unconcerned, or passsive… If you speak confidently and fearlessly you could be considered delusional or arrogant! If you talk about God too much you may also be a considered a religious fanatic…This is a result of labeling…

On another note; I also find it quite interesting the mass shooting that took place on the military base at Fort Hood in Texas. Where a military trained Psychiatrist Nidal Hasan massacred many of his fellow soldiers! They were in a soldier readiness facility where the troops being deployed to both Iraq & Afghanistan received their last medical checkups? Stress management is needed regardless of who you are. No matter what station one reaches in life balance is always key! Extensive training does not mean that you are immune to anxiety and pressure! In my counseling practicum I was required to know what others believe that are not Christians there are many many religions… This is also when the spiritual side needs to be addressed as to what do you believe about life, living and the value of life!

What happens so often is that underlying issues and problems are not addressed. They are continually swept under the rug and ignored. Or either there is a decision to move on…. On the other hand yelling and screaming becomes the communication mode and no one really hears or recognizes all the hurting that is being masked. Circulating in the background like a “virus!” By ignoring the magnitude of what has happened, In extreme cases it is suppressed and can result in extreme depression. Which is anger turned inwardly. Or can manifest in many other ways… No, we do not have to as they say “make a mountain out of a mole hill” but nor can you take the “ostrich approach” as well. It is important to make a sincere effort to seek out healthier ways to resolve conflict!

When I later studied Creation Therapy, I was so excited because for me it balanced the psychology and the spiritual. A Christian professional based counseling model! I truly believe in the concept of Temperament! It teaches you that each person has their very own unique Temperament with both strengths and weaknesses. Like DNA it teaches us no two are alike! It really helps one discover Inclusion; To the degree you like to interact or not. Control; To the degree you like to control or be controlled and Affection; to the degree you need, want or don’t want affection. Personally for me it was very rewarding and still is. It is much easier to put someone in a box and label them and say this is who you are more or less. So I can expect this or that…

With God we are forever changing and can be molded in His image as long as you are willing to submit to Him. The Holy Spirit really is authentic, His presence in your life is what facilitates the process of change and helps the FRUIT of His Spirit to multiply in our life. In Him we are “New creations,” we are the clay on the Master Potter’s wheel. And as long as you are pliable, moistened by His WORD and flexible you can be molded and shaped in the image He sees fit. In Him there is ALWAYS HOPE!

God has a plan for each of His children! Although, you may go through some extreme situations. There is always light at the ends of a tunnel… It is important to know the Word of God! There are many situations, and scenarios that are recorded in the Word that can help to strengthen your Faith and give us godly direction! You can acquire confidence knowing God will “never leave or forsake you.” Daniel thrust in the lion’s den overnight for example, was not eaten by the lions. He instead in the morning said “O King live forever, My GOD sent His angel and shut the mouths of the lion…” See Daniel 6 for more details. It is in God ALL Power resides! The world has become a lot like a "lions' den..."All in all through Jesus Christ you can become whoever God designed you to be! You have all the time in the world with Him you will ever need, because He made time. What ultimately matters most in life is your relationship with God!

In the shelter, the residents varied, they were there for a plethora of reasons, from all walks of life. Not all were unemployed or lazy, many had a string of unfortunate situations take place. Many just no longer wanted to be a part of or participate in society. Example; There was a bank VP, who lived in the shelter who got up went to work just like anyone else in his suit and tie each morning. His family and friends were not totally aware that he had a compulsive gambling problem. It was here I actually saw someone splinter right in front of my face with a multiple personality, he was from an affluent family and had been traumatically abused by his father he did not …

I did not dress down nor talk down to any of them. I was taught at an early age that people “don’t come in grades like butter!” The residents could see if I was sincere and tested me on many occasions. I learned it is important to be “you” no matter where you go and KNOW God is always with you! Of course that also means to be considerate, polite, courteous, at times quite firm, and sometime say absolutely nothing. Yes, initially I was really quite naïve. But the residents became very protective and would tell the newer ones’ “don’t try that on her, be straight with her!” It does not help "playing games..." I eventually was given an Award for my work with the homeless…They knew that I did not have to be there. Interestingly so, it was then my supervisor realized the worth of it all... I was there because I was concerned and chose to be there… It was here they taught me to be aware of my surroundings at all time… Not in a paranoid way but because “That’s reality!” I learned many invaluable lessons in the shelter that I will be forever grateful…

There were those who had been abused physically, emotionally and mentally. Some on drugs and some not, one stipulation was you were not supposed to be under the influence for admittance into the shelter… All in all, I learned one must consult God our Creator and Maker when desiring to counsel and or help someone! As a child of God one becomes more and more aware that this earth is not our home it is to Him we belong… And the Lord GOD formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the BREATH of LIFE; and man became a living being.”

One never knows what life will bring. No matter how much you plan , we are living in a constant flux in this 21st century! The current economic recession has impacted everyone in one way or the other! Just listen to the news! The latest catastrophe in Haiti, much needed support and prayers! There is much going on under the surface there as well! What does one do when the unexpected happens? This is just one of the many of sorrows to come….The one thing that is sure we can count on God’s Word! Although man continues to try and change it to justify doing what they feel is right … Oh! Let’s not forget the huge push to “redefine marriage!LORD HELP US!

When you buy a car there is a manual that teaches you all the options and benefits available to you. If you choose to deter from the instructions you will not get the same results. You can operate the car but you will not optimize being able to utilize all your options. If not taken care of properly it will not run as efficiently! God is our Creator! Through our belief in Jesus Christ we have the gift of His precious Holy Spirit, His Comforter that will guide us to GOD’s TRUTH! The Word of God is the “Life Manual” for believers! To teach us HIS WAY! It is the History of His people that goes back thousands of years… “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, Bringing every thought captivity to the obedience of Christ….”

This is just a few important lessons I have learned along the WAY...

About the Author: DeBorrah K. Ogans is a licensed Pastoral Counselor and ordained minister. She is certified through the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling in Creation Therapy and holds a Master's Degree in Biblical Clinical Counseling. DeBorrah is a Co-Founder along with her husband Randall of "Alpha 7 Ministries". She is the author of a pre-marital guide "How Do I Love Thee: Things You Need To Know Before You Say I Do", and has released her second book "Holy Matrimony: Now That You're Married".


Written by: DeBorrah K Ogans
DeBorrah K. Ogans is a Marriage Educator, Christian Counselor, Author, and Minister. She is certified through the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling in Creation Therapy and holds a Masters Degree in Biblical Clinical Counseling.

Her published works include a pre-marital guide How Do I Love Thee: Food For Thought Before You Say I Do, , Holy Matrimony: Now That We're Married, and most recently, her fiction book targeted for teens/young adults, "The Enchanting Legends Of Shiloh Mansion:The Young King"

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