Seven years of school, complete with Practicum and Internship, and 6 hour exit exam.
Two additional years of hours logged.
Board Certification as a Professional Christian counselor.
I did it without a support network, except my undergrad Dean, who then became my grad school mentor and who took the time out of his pastorate to meet with me every other week to teach me and answer questions and guide me along the way.
How grateful I will always be to him for that. For, beside my Grandmother, he was the only one cheering me on the entire way. Believing I could do it and praying me through.
Single throughout my twenties, the counseling world was my life. Counseling degree and then my counseling career.
I loved it and I thrived on it.
It truly was my passion and reason for getting up each day.
And now Miraclegirl is 5 years old and I've been on "sabbatical" for that long and the time for Board Certification renewal is approaching. Renewal with it's required 20 Continuing Education credits and the money they take and the money the required insurance policy takes.
So, here I am, at the brink of one of the hardest decisions of my life: to renew or to let it lapse?
There are all the logical reasons why to renew, such as if anything happens to my husband I have this to fall back on and all those years put in, it would be a waste to let them go, and if I return to this field some day, getting re-certified will be a brand new process of 1,000 counseling hours.
And honestly, to let it go is painful. Because of what it represents. That's what I told Handsome. It represents years of hard work and perseverance. Of working full time and going to school full time. Of determination and passion. All without a support network rallying behind me.
So to let it lapse is like letting go, a large part of what I've come from, who I am, and what I've accomplished.
I've gone from counselor whom Pastor's called for advice, who testified in court several times, who had a waiting list at one point, who got front row seat to watching lives change and has a stack of letters and notes from those who found healing, to a hidden valley mama. Where few know me and my biggest advice of the day is "Go blow your nose please" and "Don't hit your sister" and "Maybe your tummy hurts because you need to poop."
I've gone from identity to hiddeness.
I have been at peace these five years to take the break and yet, to now make the decision to fully release this part of my life comes with great, painful hesitancy.
Do I really want to let this go entirely? Purposefully step completely away from this part of my life? Of career and respect? Of the pride of all I've come from and all I've gained?
Am I sure I want to burn the bridge so that crossing back, will be like starting over, rebuilding the bridge in it's entirety from the ground up?
I worked for it and some days I miss it and have daydreams of returning.
Of being someone again.
It's who I was and who I still am in part, and choosing to walk away permanently is painful.
But then I look around me.
And I see my surroundings of skeletal walls and dry-wall propped up ready to be put up and the Department of Social Services pile of paperwork waiting to be filled out as we begin our training tomorrow night to bring home our children. I hear the echo of my dreams and I fall asleep daydreaming of those I have yet to hold.
And my heart says, "Let it go. For you are in a new place. One which does not need credentials as much as it needs a heart of love and a heart willing to be broken as it pours out and then lets go."
That was my then and this is my now.
And in my now I don't need hours spent in counseling class credits and money spent on fees and certifications.
Instead I need surrender and the acceptance I've moved to a life of obscurity in the hidden valley, unseen by the world but seen by The Author of my life and that is all that matters. Where every simple act becomes worship, right down to wiping boogers and butts and cleaning toilets and daily spills of milk and food.
Even as I long for the days of being known and respected, my heart cries with even greater passion for more of being hidden in His love and embracing the weak that shame the mighty.
It tugs me in two as I face this decision, but one tug is greater than the other and I'm pretty sure I know the way I need to take. The roots will be torn out and will rip my heart as they are torn, but I know that peace will follow, as the healing comes from being in the center of His will, in this place, for such a time as this.
Handsome and I talked about this last night.
"But what if I need to return to the counseling world?" We asked each other as we turned this over and upside down. "Should I let this go in case of that event? Shouldn't we have this as our security?"
My final conclusion was that I miss it, and I miss who I was, and I am struggling to let it go forever, but my surprise is finding that my heart is no longer fully there, even as I miss it.
Given a choice today, with all power laid in my hands, this valley is what I would chose, surrounded by my children here and the ones we are preparing for.
I found astonishment that my heart has been molded into this new purpose that gets me up each morning and that this purpose is stronger than the purpose of old, ever was.
In the end, we concluded that spending $500-1000 every two years, "just in case" something happens, isn't the financial stewardship Shiloh needs, and if anything happened and I had to leave this life and return to outside work, God will provide a way in that tomorrow, just as He has in all my yesterdays and in the astounding unfolding of today.
I really think this is what I have to do even as I cling tightly to it as the days march towards renewal. It hurts so deeply but the money for Board Certification is so very needed for beds and car seats and oh my, a van, because we don't even have a vehicle with enough seats for more children. How can I spend money on something I may never use again, when there are so many other needs for the preparation of bringing our children home?
Even contemplating this, is a very painfully conscious foot onto a bridge before me in this journey of my life, with Shiloh in front and with True Hope Counseling, the fulfillment of my career, behind me.
If I step fully onto this bridge, it will burn behind me. There can be no turning back. I'd have to go through the entire process of all-consuming hours that turn into years, a second time, all in order to regain what I am contemplating giving up. If this is the way I take, this bridge will burn behind me and it's flames will consume my soul, even as I walk away. The remaining ashes, my sacrifice to The One calling me to turn aside to the hidden valley.
The One Whom this is all about anyways.
In abandoned surrender