A counselor’s higher calling

Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts.

“When you fall down, get back up.”
“When you fall down, get back up.”
“When you fall down, get back up.”

This was the passage that we used before every game when I coached basketball, and when people would relapse in chemical dependency counseling. The fact that I became a chemical dependency counselor was strange to me, because my coaching days had been targeted to be a Division I basketball coach. In this passage, “Why We Were Chosen,” I think this will explain why God selected my group of people.

“Why We Were Chosen”

“God in his wisdom selected this group of men and women to be the purveyors of his goodness. In selecting them through whom to bring about this phenomenon, he went not to the proud, the mighty, or the famous or the brilliant, he went to the humble, the sick, and the unfortunate. He went to the drunkard, the so-called weakling of the world. What might he have said is, ‘unto your weak and feeble hands I have entrusted a power beyond estimate. To you have been given that which has been denied the most learned of your fellows, not to scientists. Not even to my priests or ministers have I given the gift of helping to heal other alcoholics or addicts. It must be used unselfishly, because it carries with it grave responsibility. No day can be too long, no demands upon your time can be too urgent, no case to pitiful, no task too hard, no effort too great. It must be used with tolerance, for I have restricted its application to no race, creed, or denomination. Personal criticism you must expect, lack of appreciation will be common, ridicule will be your lot, your motives will be misjudged, and adversity will be ever present, for what men call adversity is the ladder you must use to ascend the rungs toward spiritual perfection and remember in the exercise of this power, I will not exact from you beyond your capabilities.

“You are not selected because of your exceptional talents, and be careful always if success attends your efforts, not to ascribe to personal superiority that to which you can lay claim. Only by virtue of my gift, if I had wanted learned men to accomplish this mission, the power would have been given to the physician, and scientist. If I had wanted eloquent men, there would have been many anxious for this assignment, for talk is the easiest used of all talents with which I have endowed mankind. If I had wanted scholarly men, the world is filled with better qualified men than you who would be a available. You have been selected, because you have been the outcasts of society and the world, and your long experience as drunkards has made or should have made you humbly alert to the cries of distress from the lonely hearts of alcoholics and addicts everywhere.

“Keep ever in mind the admission you made on the day of your profession in AA, NA - namely that you were powerless over alcohol and other drugs, and that it was only with your willingness to turn your life and will unto my keeping that relief came to you.”

The counseling of the ‘70’s, 80’s and ‘90’s subscribed to this passage. We went through the crack-cocaine era of the ‘80s and ‘90s, similar to the “opioid crisis” of present day. The difference was we did not have the number of deaths due to fentanyl and heroin.

When we were chosen, it wasn’t, “OK great, I’ll do it,” it was more like, “Really, I want to be a Division I coach.” However when I understood what God wanted me to do, I was able to be a Division I coach in chemical dependency, using coaching and counseling skills to help people save their lives and move on with more rational thinking and behaviors.

Mike Tramuta has been a CASAC counselor for more than 30 years and currently runs the REBT program on Thursday nights at the Holy Trinity Parish Center from 7 to 8:15pm

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