Offering counsel.

“I am not a counselor,” I said. “I give counsel.”

I should have been clearer about that when I was talking to my conversationalist of yesterday. I often say that when people begin to talk with me about struggles and challenges and pain. A counselor is trained in techniques of helping, of therapeutic caring. A counselor develops a care plan, works toward health.

I am not a counselor. Instead, I listen to God and for the struggle. And I consider the stories of the Bible, the teachings of the Bible, the successes and failures spoken to in the Bible. And then I offer counsel.

During the occasional visits and conversations, I talked to her about willpower and choice. I listened to her struggles and did the conversational equivalent of patting her on the hand and saying, “there, there, you are trying.”

But I was being too therapeutic.

If I were offering more counsel, I would have pointed out that she could choose to integrate her words and actions, instead of being duplicitous. She could do what she said she was doing instead of lying about it. She could choose to understand that multitasking is as impossible in morality as it is in conversation and workflow. We cannot at the same time say we are contrite and be unrepentant.

“Imagine that you are trying to talk to me,” I could have said.  “And I walk away. With every step away, I hear you less. Until I repent and turn around and come closer. And then I will hear you better. But,” I would have added, “I cannot both walk away and come close.”

She wouldn’t have listened. I know that now. Her mind was made up. But I would have been as clear as I could have been. Like now. To you and me.

 

Advertisements

About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.