Monday, May 23, 2016

Dr. Day

May 23, 2016

He sat beside the closet door, quietly talking to Tony, who was standing on his head inside in the dark. It was quite unorthodox, but Dr. Day was not your ordinary psychologist. He kept pummeling Tony with questions and didn't rest till he got answers. There were many things about Dr. Day that were different from other counselors. He loved posing a simple conundrum: "I hate baseball, but I love going to baseball games." His whole philosophy of counseling was wrapped up in that simple statement. He would throw it out and wait, knowing that sooner or later the listener would ask why. When they did, he knew he had them. He believed that most counselors get such paltry results because they do all the listening. That's what budding counselors are taught: listen to the patient. Dr. Day said that by doing so, counselors get healthy while the patient gets sicker, because those who know how to pay attention to others are healthy people; those who only know how to talk are unhealthy.

He was right, you know. The more we focus on our thoughts and feelings, the less emotionally and spiritually healthy we become. People pay counselors big money to listen to them talk, never realizing that the reason they have to keep going to counseling is because the methods being used are actually making them sicker. One of the most telling signs of good emotional health is being able to actually pay attention to another person instead of always focusing on oneself.

This same principle applies to our spiritual life as well. I've lost track of the number of times I've dealt with people who compare their own spiritual life with someone else's. "She is always joyful while I struggle with depression." "He speaks so glowingly about his relationship with Christ; but to me, God seems so far away." I must confess I've fallen into that trap more often then I want to admit. The problem is, while I am wondering why I don't feel God's presence the way I want, I'm focusing on me, on my feelings, rather than focusing on God himself. That is by definition unhealthy. Today as I was driving to visit my mother, I was treading precariously close to that trap until I began praising God, focusing on his character and glory instead of whether I was feeling his presence. A most amazing thing happened. I began to FEEL the presence of God. I am grateful tonight for Dr. Day's lessons from years ago. It not only applies to counseling; it helps me to connect with God himself.

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