It was Certification Day, our first of several. I had been planning a distinct route for a smooth and predictable path. As far as I was concerned, there would be no detours. I was eager to get on our Zoom call later that afternoon.
A month earlier, I had begun training to be a guide in leading people through deep transformation while going through major life transitions. The first few weeks had been inspiring. I was hopeful about the skills, insights and framework I was learning, and I could instantly see how I could transfer the principles into my work and care for others. I had a hunch that the tools and input from the other eight in the cohort would be positive as well. We had already benefited from invigorating discussion about disruptions, helpful pre-work around our own transitions, and engagements in the unique methodology that included welcoming sorrow and inviting hope. I knew from the start this was not an ordinary coaching training, but I had not dreamed of the transformation that might happen for me internally.
Our “guide” was Jon, the attentive man who had developed and directed the program. His pastoral kindness and transparency in our first weeks together was a breath of fresh air. Outside of the large group, each was paired with another trainee to journey through the entire program. These pairs would “guide” one another while learning the methods. I had met my partner, Laurie, in a previous training and had observed her competence and discernment. I felt at ease with her and trusted her insight.
We were four weeks in before we were slated for our first formal feedback. During the certification we would be observed in the areas of our overall presence and style of relating as a guide, and how we explored intake data and initiated an action plan with our “client.” This plan would be adjusted as we went, but overall it provided the goals and intentions for our work in the transition. Jon would watch off-camera and add feedback after our time together.
The day arrived, and I gathered all of my well-organized, “Dig Deep” questions, along with my ideas of where to lead us. I entered the Zoom room with nervous energy, but more than that, an excitement for where we might go. I led my partner first and it was really fun. Our time felt rich and inviting as we entered the terrain of the “stuck-ness” she felt in the midst of her progress. The evaluation I received was encouraging. I left the critique with affirmation of my presence and instincts, and was given helpful prompts for growth. We were right on course.
Next, we moved to Laurie guiding me. I expected that we would enter into the most disruptive transition for me in recent years. In my pre-work, I had shared the abuse my husband and I had endured at a church where we were deeply invested for almost two decades. It left me lonely and confused. I was certain it would be the place Laurie would focus.
We had barely gotten started when she tricked me. She performed an ambush. Her weapon: a provocative question. She stared intently at me through the invisible screen and gently asked, “Do you own the impact you have on others?” I felt an immediate disturbance inside my body. This was not condescension, but an invitation. I was not in trouble; I had not done anything wrong. I sensed she was searching for something in me, something that is weighty and beautiful. Here we landed at the precipice of my deep-seated self doubt and the battleground of my ambivalence. Inside I screamed, “Please see me! Let’s go here.” Externally I hesitated, and discounted most of the data she had gathered to urge me to believe in my worth. I squirmed and was caught when I exposed my desire by wondering out loud, “What if I believed I was brilliant?” We paused.
My adept guide placed my splendor front and center.
She made a detour right in my midst. She bypassed the shame and brokenness of my past and turned us toward my ache for significant impact. I was disheveled and rattled and shed tears of desire.
In our follow up, Jon praised her instincts and wisdom. His affirmation of my virtue further disrupted me. We were traveling on a path I had not anticipated. This dignity I had begun to grasp in recent years was all too often snatched away by my suspicion. I longed to own and hold this sacred truth and yet, I was terrified.
What if I believed I was brilliant?
Maryhelen Martens has been gathering and connecting with others since she was a young girl growing up in rural Wisconsin. She is a lover of whimsy and play, beauty and depth, all of which she experiences in her relationships. While her emotions and voice were shut down for decades, she is finding them again and using them in healing groups, story coaching, and writing. She’s always been drawn to water and sunsets and more recently to the desert and sunrises. She’s curious about that. Mother to three authentic adults, Maryhelen lives with her steadfast husband Keith on the shore of Lake Michigan.