Posts Tagged ‘healing’

Our church hosted a family counselling seminar tonight. Upfront let me confess that I’ve always had an uneasy feeling about some of the underlying psychological theories upon which counselling draws on. But more significantly, I have always railed against the therapeutic culture that has invaded and infected the Church. (For trenchant analyses, one can turn, for example, to Michael Horton’s Made in America: The Shaping of Modern American Evangelicalism, David F. Wells’ God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams and Marsha Witten’s All Is Forgiven: The Secular Message in American Protestantism). That said, I’m actually very interested in psychoanalysis, counselling and psychotherapies. But I am wary of how they mix and play out in theory and practice, with respect to theology and Christian formation.

However, time away from the Church has (hopefully) allowed me to see things with fresh perspectives, and I have to say I really appreciated both presenters. The first topic was “Secrets of the Teenage Brain” and a lot of practical information and helpful tips were shared. In particular, I really appreciated her remark that healing must take place in community; and yet, church is often a place where people get hurt rather than get healed.

The second presenter was by a former pastor, who spoke about “Loving Couples, Loving Stories: How to Listen in a Loving Way”. I hope my wife was paying attention! 😉  I loved how he stressed the importance of narrative: not only as a way of making sense of our lives, but also as a way of connecting with others. He also noted the importance of vulnerability when sharing one’s stories with others. As one who loves fiction (which the speaker actually recommended as a good way of developing empathy), stories play a vital and central role in my life. No surprise then, that during the Q&A period, I raised the question of why Christians are so afraid of taking off their masks, being authentic and vulnerable in sharing their stories. To his credit, this pastor-turned-counsellor gave honest reasons based on his experience, e.g., fear of discomfort, fear of betrayal, church culture/expectations (afraid to come across weak and struggling), etc.

While I totally agree with him, I still strongly feel that we must change this. After all, I am able to be quite open and vulnerable when I share my stories in Toastmasters. While it’s obvious that couples should listen to each other in a loving way, what about Christians with each other? I think that’s just as an important of a takeaway.

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