I plop down on the couch, again. A year’s worth of Wednesdays collected.
There is a phrase familiar to those familiar with 12 Step Recovery: Terminal Uniqueness. It is the idea that always having to be different–more complicated–life is worse for me than you–no one could possibly understand–I am unique–is ultimately a terminal disease because there can be no known solution if no one could possibly get you.
I don’t want to be that person.
So I sit, once a week, and flesh out the things about my life I want to change with someone I choose to trust.
I discovered, early on, that he and I have very similar worldviews, and so I ask him questions about living out my faith under the circumstances that I face.
How do I do this well?
Peopling is hard.
The journey with my own people (family and friends) has been challenging me. I am constantly traveling to the land of Failure; or at least feels like I am heading toward the land of Failure.
I shift my weight a bit on the couch as I explain that doesn’t necessarily scare me. What is more terrifying (most of the time) is the thought of nothing changing.
Who do I want to be?
I miss being active in ministry. Teaching Bible Study and planning projects were sources of great joy and great purpose (and sometimes great conflict) and always great growth.
But I do believe in seasons, and this happens to be a season of mundane service by comparison. Stewarding my mom’s journey to the end, and now my Dad’s, is not fun, but it is where I am called to be.
I am reminded that an audience of One is all I can handle. There is so much disapproval to be handed out; so many “that doesn’t work”s and “you’re doing it wrong”s flung my way that I have to center on the Lord and HIS calling.
Am I being faithful to YOU?
“I am increasingly convinced,” I tell him, sitting comfortably on the couch, “that one cannot be in victim mode AND solution mode at the same time.” He nods in agreement.
And so, I must choose to look at the situations I face, either indulged in the compromised position of victimhood or actively looking for keys to positive change. This does not mean there are not times when I really am a victim, sometimes I am; it simply means that I cannot find solutions if my focus is in the wrong direction.
I am also mostly convinced that people don’t want solutions, especially if they require effort. Which brings me back to the number of times I hear, “That won’t work.”
Do I really want things to get better enough to change what I am doing?
This past summer, I took a road trip with my three kids and the dog, who is sometimes naughty. We traveled 3,775 miles from Texas to Vermont and back.
The dog was a perfect traveler every single mile in the car. State after state, stop after stop, he had no accidents.
He was quiet in almost every hotel room–except the sketchy one we stayed at in Buffalo, New York– and no one could blame him for that. He was just doing his job, and we still wonder what was being vacuumed in the room above us at 3:30 in the morning.
However, what we remember the most about the dog on the trip are the two seconds in which he snapped at my daughter’s boyfriend. Even though we knew he should be muzzled when he meets new people, we didn’t do it. Because of one tiny moment, all his beautiful behavior faded into the background of memory. It was an infinitesimal percentage of naughtiness that stands out most vividly.
I am like my dog. Sometimes, no matter how much good I do, I am judged solely on my weakest moments.
When I remember this, I go play with the dog and tell him I remember the good, too…
Can I accept, with grace, that life simply isn’t fair?
“Assertiveness is the goal,” my counselor explains. He has a teacher’s heart and sometimes illustrates concepts using the whiteboard in his office.
Whiteboard conversations are some of my favorite things–ask anyone who has done Bible Study with me.
“Being passive rarely leads to satisfaction in life; aggressiveness fractures relationships; passive-aggressiveness is insidiously destructive.” Being assertive and making my wants and needs understood with clarity doesn’t mean I get what I want. It means I am approaching my life in the healthiest way possible.
“Results,” he gently reminds me, “are the Lord’s business.”
“I know,” I say smiling, “but sometimes I hate that.”
Will I actually trust YOU with results?
With time, life shifts.
It’s easier to find things going well in my marriage. I keep my cool and almost never lose my temper.
I am learning to have adult relationships with my grown kids, and I know they know I’m on their side.
He reminds me of a principle he has shared before. “Do you mind if I text that to myself?” I ask. “I was thinking about that very thing the other day, but couldn’t remember the specific terminology.”
He smiles and nods.
Am I trying to solve a problem or win a battle?”
I remind myself of this saying each time the air in the room changes, and relational chills begin to encroach. For a once-battle-ready-warrior who is now battle-weary, I want the problems in my life to be solved–not just ignored in the hopes they go away.
In order to do that well, I continue to type out my prayer journal
daily often, read the Bible, and plop on the couch once a week. I suspect I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.