Counseling Center Update

 Moving Forward but Never Fully Moving On: By Abby Elam


I have recently joked with a few folks that I need to get WWGS (What Would Garry Say) bracelets made up and handed out to those who have been blessed by the wise counsel and friendship of Garry Barber. This may seem silly or possibly even a little blasphemous. Still, when I stop and ask myself the question, “what would Garry say?” when I am struggling with something, I can hear his voice again, his Christ-centered wisdom leading me back to truth and of course always to the Lord.

When processing the grief and loss of a loved one, we often hear the survivor of that loss express lament over other people’s ability to “move on.” Moving on feels like forgetting, and we don’t ever want to forget the people we hold most dear. And our dear Garry will never be forgotten. So no, we have not and will not “move on” from loving and being loved by such a man, but we are moving forward. Slowly, with bouts of deep grief and longing to speak with him again, we are moving forward.

The Lord equipped and gifted us as counselors, but Garry was our guide and Shepard. He showed us what true pastoral care looks like. He showed us what it means to listen intentionally and respond lovingly. He showed us what it means to live with the fruit of the spirit in our hearts and lives. These are things that we not only vow to never lose sight of but to continue to offer through our counsel here at The Joy House. Though Garry may not still physically be here with us, his spirit lives on through us.

We are very aware that so many people in our community are still feeling the loss of their safe place, their confidant, pastor, and friend. Please hear us when we say we grieve with you and count it a great honor to grieve alongside you if that is what you need. I have had many conversations in the last two months where someone who is grieving Garry and needs to talk asks, “will it be too much or too hard for you to walk through my grief with me?” and to that, I always respond, “As long as you are ok if I shed a tear or two alongside you, it would be my honor to help you through this.”

To those in our community who may be struggling with grief, loss, anxiety, depression, or any other issue, we are still here for you as well. Yes, we are still grieving, but it is with great JOY and encouragement that we continue to do this work that Garry loved so much. The Holy Spirit always has and always will guide us as we care for the members of this community.