Emotional firefighting

fire truck

When I was in graduate school to become a counselor the phrase “emotional firefighters” was often told to us as emerging counselors. Emotional firefighting sounds like some new self help book, but what the professors  meant is that we get right into the middle of the fire, people’s pain, and try to put it out.  We stand there in the fire with them and help guide them through the smoke, ashes, flame; When often times, they can’t even see past the blinding light of the fire. We help them put it out. We stand there with them, until they are ready to move on. This can be hard, taxing, yet  rewarding. It’s why I wanted to be a counselor and stuck out grad school. There are times we get a little burned ourselves, we are able to heal and move on.

On the way into my internship, in the middle of my internship week, I was praying, as I often do. Normally its over the usual stuff, my husband, my kids, family members, friends etc.  Lately we have had friends with some hard news. News of hardship that can make anyone stops in their tracks. The thought came to me as I was praying about being an emotional firefighter. I am use to that, being in people’s pain.  I see the worst of the world on a daily basis. Yet, as I was praying, I wondered, how many Christians would call themselves “emotional firefighters”. Really shouldn’t we be the ones getting into the flame, smoke and ashes. I look at the cross and know without a doubt that is exactly what Christ did for us. He gets in people’s pain. He is the emotional firefighter, but hasn’t He called us to do the same? To come along side each other, or really anyone.


The example I of think of is in Mark Chapter 2, when Jesus is eating with the tax collectors and sinners. The tax collectors were not highly thought of in that day or the “sinners”. The Pharisees (the teachers of the law, the religious folks of the day) saw this, they did’t understand. They even questioned is disciples about “why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16)  Jesus being the emotional firefighter that He was, I can imagine was just shaking his head.

His response is “Its not the healthy who need a doctor, bu the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17)  Being the imperfect person I am, would not have been so kind, but  Jesus, God in the Flesh, came to bear our sins, did not want the naysayers of the day. He wanted  the people,  their whole hearts, devotion and life to follow him.

Are you being an emotional firefighter? Are you willing to put yourself in people’s pain? I know for a fact there are people in my life who have done exactly that. They have come along side of me and felt the heat of my pain in my life. I am so thankful for those people. I know they were put there by God.

So, are we like Jesus or the Pharisees?

Photos from: Flickr: Fire truck, 2007, Doctors’ House , 2011

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