By Jenna Ebener
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
It is hard to believe I just finished my third year as a school social worker. The time has flown by in incredible ways and I am continually amazed by where God has led me. As I reflected on this past year, I was comparing my relationship with God to the year before. Last year, my theme was trust. I focused so hard on letting go of control and offering up my concerns to God. My relationship with God took on a whole new level of wonderful closeness when I started doing just that. This year I continued that focus but, between the growth in my relationship with God and the less extreme circumstances I was in, I did not think trust took as big a focus.
I was reflecting on my year with my spiritual director and she helped me to reach a different conclusion. I spoke about how this year I really had to learn to delegate. I experienced different levels of stress when I did not have the same support for students with problem behaviors as I had the past two years. As I stayed up until late hours of the night working on behavior plans for students, I knew I could not maintain that level of work. I needed to ask for help, which is hard for me to do.
At this point, my spiritual director pointed out that my unwillingness to ask for help could be tied to not wanting to let go of control. To let go of control, I needed to trust others to accomplish what needed to be done. It all comes back to trust! I had to laugh out loud as I pictured God chuckling at my naiveté. Here I was thinking I was doing so well in my trust in God only to realize that he has been testing my trust in whole new ways. He knew I was making progress, so rather than letting me stay stagnant, he found new ways to push me. Now that the relationship between the two of us has grown even stronger, he started building my relationship with him through others.
By making myself vulnerable enough to ask for help, I revealed my trust in the people I confided in and opened myself to seeing God in them. By putting aside my pride that only I could do “that project” and that others could not or would not, I was able to see the amazing gifts God has given others. I saw unique perspectives and angles from other disciplines that I could not have come up with on my own. I experienced understanding and camaraderie with others that I had not experienced often in my isolated profession. I started turning to others out of necessity but also out of a sincere desire for their input and collaboration. I found myself searching for God in others and seeking out those interactions. As my relationships with others grew, my relationship with God in turn deepened further. What a beautiful end to the school year!
(Jenna Ebener graduated in 2015 with a Master of Social Work from St. Ambrose University in Davenport.)