Thursday, April 9, 2009
Acknowledging our neediness
My Beloved from Brandon Russell on Vimeo.
This is a video my brother was a part of creating a few years ago and I absolutely love it. I have utilized it as a visual demonstration a few times when sharing aspects of my own story with various groups in the church during my years at WBCC. In preparing to give a presentation this last week in school I thought of using this video once again - not so much in connection to my own story, but for the purpose of exploring what our role as therapists might look like. I ended up running out of time and was unable to show the clip at the end of my presentation, so I thought I'd post it here instead.
I've been wrestling with a few things portrayed in this short video lately as I've reflected upon how our cultural focus on individualism has influenced our reading of the text and our perception of God. Let me expound a bit here to demonstrate exactly what I mean to suggest. In the video we find an adolescent boy and girl both separate and alone in their display of misery and loneliness. They are revealing all of the messages that they have internalized which now keep them in bondage. They are messages about the self, the other and the world that work together to construct their world-view, which actually determines how they are who they are in the context of their lives. Unfortunately, as is the case in quite possibly the life of every human being, these messages are distorted realities of their true nature, their ultimate design and purpose in life.
Nonetheless, many of us fail to ever hear the truth about who we are. So we long for someone to erase all of the messages...to make them disappear so we can start over anew. Our only hope for a different way of being is by ridding ourselves of what we have already come to receive and inevitably internalize. We want God to be the genie in the bottle who makes it all go away. But in my experience, God has never performed such a disappearing act.
Don't get me wrong...it's not that I don't think God is capable of completely eradicating the ugliness and painfulness of such distortions of truth. But rather, I don't think God wants to. Because maybe it's not about each one of us having our individual slates wiped clean. Maybe it's not about God cleaning everything up and us still being alone in the end. What would it look like for us to get in there with one another, not to erase the messages, but to look at them together...to sort through them, understand them, feel them deeply together. And then to co-create new messages in our experience together...new messages that eventually become more powerful and more formative than the previous ones. I believe that the role of a therapist, actually I believe it pertains to the role of any disciple of Christ, is to get into the messiness with another. How that happens may just look differently in the therapeutic realm.
The greatest hurdle to this way of being with one another seems to be our reluctance to acknowledge just how much we need one another. We all know how much we need God. Even non-believers must know that they do not have ultimate control of their own existence. Yes, I am aware of the fact that we all struggle with living life as though we don't need God - but are we even aware of how much we fail to acknowledge our need for one another? God, by nature, is union - three-in-one. I wonder how our reading of the text and perception of God would look differently if we stopped focusing solely on how much we need God but rather acknowledged our need for a tri-part union - God, others and the self.