But, but, but!!…..Oh.

Standard

My husband hates school. I love school. He operates with a very VERY logical, rational, even keeled approach to life. I don’t “operate, ” I try to survive the tumultuous drama that is how I view the world. This means that while he is pursuing his Master’s Degree in a program he is not even SLIGHTLY interested in (Human Services), we have a lot of conversations that go like this:

Brian: “That’s just stupid.
Me: “Well, now, not everyone sees things like you do…” (VERY true story)

Brian: “Seriously. That’s just pointless. There is NOTHING relavent in this class.”

Me: “To some people, how to work through these situations isn’t common sense…”

Brian: “There isn’t even a “situation”! It’s all in their heads!”

 

See several of last years posts for a rather humorous take on more of my husband’s rather unempathetic, straightforward personality. (First, Second, Third)

 

So, when discussing his class on the Integration of Christianity in Counseling that I rather enjoyed reading the books for (yes, I do often read his textbooks. Not all of them, but a lot of them) the conversation started along the normal path…

Brian: “This is stupid.”

Me: “Well, now, to some people this is a relevent problem.”

Brian: “No. I either am a Christian, or I am not. I either operate from a Christian perspective, or I do not. There is no “integration.” This is crap.”

Me: “For some people…..huh.”

 

I’ve thought a lot about that “huh.” You see, one of the first things that drew me to my husband is his matter of fact understanding of who he is. It is not “who he is in relation to everyone else” or “how people see him” or “how he operates in society” it is, point blank, who he is. Take it, or leave it, and he’s generally not all that fussed if you leave it. One of the things my husband is, is a Christian. He cut through a lot of the, well, crap, that sometimes gets in the way of being a Christian and pointed out that it was not only something you were or were not, it was something that seperated you from others whether you made a big deal of it or not.

In his words, “I either am a christian counselor and pray for my clients, or I am not a christian counselor and don’t pray for my clients. Praying outloud, silently, with or without them is all based on the client, but if I am a Christian, I will pray.” Now Brian as a counselor is laughable and (thank goodness) purely hypothetical, but his point is valid. We had a “Worldview Paper” in another class that seemed to be designed at shaking people’s beliefs about the world into a Christian perspective (don’t get me started on the tone of some of the articles that were part of the assignment) and while the Worldview Paper is probably a good idea for many people who don’t stop and consider it, for Brian it was a no brainer. He is nothing if not thorough in everything he does. He doesn’t “integrate” his faith into his life. You cannot seperate the two, he is not himself without his relationship to Christ and he consistently operates from this standpoint.

Maybe your reading this and going, “Oooookay, whats your point?” My point is, for me this revelation was ridiculously earth shattering. I cannot go anywhere or do anything without being hyper aware and hyper sensitive to people’s emotions and actions and reactions and interactions and it leaves me constantly wondering if I am acting, reacting, interacting appropriately. Times a THOUSAND when it comes to whether I am acting/reacting/interacting as a Christian. I went through a phase in middle school where I felt exorbitantly guilty if I didn’t work a direct reference to God or my testimony in every conversation I had. I have since become far more comfortable in realizing that my relationship with Jesus is not identical to anyone elses (so I need to stop comparing), and that following Him does not mean I have to repeat my testimony 24/7 like a trained monkey. I’ve gotten better at focusing on living for and with Christ, and the opportunities for sharing my faith have increased in far deeper and more meaningful conversations than trying to Jesus Juke every casual chat I’m a part of.

I’m not trying to say we shouldn’t try and include our faith in our day to day lives, what I’m trying to say is if you are a Christian, your faith is already in your day to day life. I guess, basically, I finally realized another aspect of what James meant about looking for the fruit. The reassurance is that you don’t have to artificially try to manufacture the fruit, if you follow Christ it will be there- maybe not all the different fruits, maybe some of them unripe or overripe or slightly damaged or moldy, but present. I can’t begin to explain how comforting this is to me.

That’s it. I don’t have a pithy or snarky conclusion, sorry.

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3 responses »

  1. I think that Brian is right, but there is also the idea that when you are a counselor, the “integration” can be overwhelming – not for you, but for the person you are counseling. A case in point – a patient that I treated many years ago. She was a Christian, and was also a lesbian at a time when there was much more of a social stigma than there is today. She was seeing a counselor that was Hindu, and one day he challenged her belief in God, suggesting in a not so subtle way that not only was her belief in God wrong, but that she was foolish to have such a belief. (Understand that this is from her words to me, not anything that I heard from the counselor.) It was one of those difficult moments with a patient when you wonder if you are doing the wrong thing. I was leaving a very troubled patient at her home, not in an emergency room or with another health care professional where she could get some therapy. That day, she was acting out of character – normally, she wanted to be left alone, and this day, she was seeking out the opportunity to talk to me. She was upset because the person she had come to trust with her feelings and beliefs was challenging what she held closest to true. Her relationship with God was challenged. Whatever the purpose of challenging her beliefs, he result was devastating because HIS belief was forced to overcome her own. His “integration” of his own belief was used to devastate and overwhelm hers. Unfortunately, this left her with a damaged core. Within 3 days, she was gone. Without her core beliefs, she took her own life. So, I guess that what I am trying to say is – your Christian belief is absolutely part of how you approach patients, but part of that belief is in acknowledging the fact that you share your beliefs, you live your life in a Christian way as a testament OF that faith, but you also learn to accept the faith and belief of others. To me, that is the integration part.

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    • You hit the nail on the head with the part about accepting the faith and belief of others. For Brian, that is the point, he does not believe Christianity makes him superior, or smarter, or better than anyone else. He also strongly does not believe it means shoving his belief down anyone elses throat (What a HORRIBLE thing for that Hindu counselor to do!). How can anyone “accept” a belief centered on love with someone attempting to bash you over the head with it? ESPECIALLY in the counseling field, where people are admitting their vulnerabilities. Brian’s point is just that his being a Christian changes how he sees people and the world, and it should also change how he treats people, but it is not something he has to think about. If I Christian had a client who was an athiest, it is NOT acceptable for that Christian to try and force his beliefs on his client, or even MENTION his beliefs. BUT, that doesn’t mean the counselor shouldn’t still pray for the client (obviously not with the client if the client does not care for it) or treat the client with the underlying premise that every person is important in God’s eyes. Brian doesn’t understand why Christian’s have to be reminded this, or taught how to have tact and respect with those who don’t share in the same beliefs. For him, the “integration” part is plain old common sense, he does not understand why there are so many books written on the subject. But you and I both know common sense is not common, it drives Brian nuts.

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