The client has been coming to sessions with me for several months when he asks, "Are you a Christian?"
I respond, "Is that something that's important to you?"
He explains, "I have a friend who has asked if my counselor is a Christian. It's kind of a big deal to him."
"What did you tell him?"
"I told him I don't know if you're a Christian or not, but I'm feeling better since starting to see you. I told them that you were 'Christian Enough.'"
I'll take that as a compliment. Not long after this exchange I had another client ask if I was a Christian.
In return, I again asked, "Is that something that's important to you?"
"Well, if you are a Christian you're not like, ya know, like a.... Christian". She says "Christian" as if she's stepped barefoot in fresh dog vomit at the exact moment she formed the word.
Again, I take this as a compliment. I am a Christian. I am a counselor. I am not a Christian counselor.
There are all kinds of pain on this big blue planet. When someone we love is dealing with heart disease and upcoming surgery, what kind of questions do we ask?
-Where did you find your heart surgeon?
-Do you feel like your getting what you need from him?
-Has the doctor said what the next step is?
-Has she discussed how long recovery may be?
-Is your surgeon a Christian?
Is your heart surgeon a Christian?
That's not the first thing people ask when a heart or life is at stake. We want to know that our loved ones are getting the very best care possible. The surgeon does not make the heart beat. He or she provides the proper support and system for it to do what it was built to do. Heal.
I'm a different kind of heart specialist.
-I help thaw frozen hearts and extract shame from hidden ones.
-I help malnourished hearts learn to feed on compassion.
-The balm of attentiveness and hope are offered freely to grieving hearts.
-Abused and violated hearts discover they have always been priceless beyond measure.
-Hearts devastated by betrayal find a renewed, deeper, more authentic ability to trust.
My desire is to love well with a boatload of knowledge. My role is to know what the hell I'm doing as to help and not hurt the brave folks who traipse in my office. Trauma histories, abuse, dissociation, addiction, anxiety, and depression are far-reaching and complex issues, and we must treat them as such.
My desire is always to provide the best possible support and care for a client's system to do what it was built to do. Heal.
We need to ensure we are asking the right questions. Pastoral care is a very, very different thing than trauma or complicated grief counseling. Both kinds of counseling may be necessary, but again, very different creatures.
It's important how we interact with those around us who are vulnerable enough to share that they are getting help.
In the examples above, neither client was concerned about my spiritual bent, they found they were feeling and functioning better. That's what mattered to them. It's why they came in the first place. It was the people around them asking the question. Their friends' questions may arise out of genuine care, and they may still be misguided.
Is your Podiatrist a Christian?