Heat on the Brake Pedal

One of the things I always forget then remember when the cold weather hits is that, in my car, when the heat is on “feet,” the blower only does its job in one spot: right over the break pedal. I find myself driving much slower when it is cold not because I am afraid of ice or because I am jittery with chill (though both of those are usually also true), but because when I use the break pedal, I get what I want…heat!

Isn’t this such a perfect lesson for life.

Recently I had to do an assignment for the foundational counseling class I am taking in grad school. The assignment is called a “Personal Growth Plan” (PGP); three must be completed before the semester is over. The PGP is there to get you to think about what you are gifted in, and what you are bad at…sorry, I mean what your “areas of growth” are. (That’s a joke for Jenn Zuck.) It explores different areas of life and skill, but mostly it forces you to take a long, careful look at your deepest self. One of the things that keep coming up is how much growing I have to do in the area of pausing.

I am not 100% sure what is behind this deficiency inside me (maybe it’s at least partially due to the recent abusive levels of caffeine I have been taking in…), I just know I often want to fix things, I usually get (incredibly) frustrated in traffic, I have a hard time choosing to let my kids climb in their carseats on their own even though it is good for their human development, and when I am counseling someone, I sometimes think, I know what’s going on here…

Admitting I have a problem is the first step, right?
(And yes, I’ve admitted this regarding the coffee, too.)

Learning to counsel well and help people — truly help them — takes a lot of time and practice. In so many ways it is like learning how to drive. In fact, recently in an online forum for my class I compared it to learning to drive in a car that is stick shift, which is extra complicated. There are a lot of factors to remember, there are a lot of things to tweak as you go, and sometimes the thing you least expect to throw you ends up doing exactly that.

So maybe just like the heat blower in my car only gives me what I want when I choose to slow down, perhaps the only way I can ever actually help someone is when I decide to pause, waiting to see what surprising joys I find in doing so.