So I watched a lot of the Discovery Channel this past weekend due to the fact that (a) I don’t have TV at home and (b) I had some time to kill with the in-laws while my husband was with his brother and the rest of the wedding party.
side-note: my husband totally makes fun of me, because when we argue I list out my points like I did above; ie, “Here is why you’re wrong, A, …. B, …, etc”
A couple of the shows we watched were cop type shows (is there a correct term for these?), and they were after specific crimes like illegally being in the US or poaching. While I watched I got a very familiar feeling. I eventually realized this familiarity was coming from the fact that there was always more than what they were looking for in a bust- they would find a man with a warrant out for his arrest as they issued him tickets for using improper barbs on his fish hook (did you know in Monterrey Bay it’s illegal to use barbed fish hooks to catch Salmon, because if they’re not barbed you can still throw them back unharmed when the fish are too small?) or in a poacher’s home they would also find several loaded guns and some meth.
This is all too familiar to my work. A woman comes in for depression and I find that she has a history of sexual abuse and PTSD symptoms from a traumatic childhood. A man comes in for anxiety and I find that he was passed between foster homes as a kid and never knew his father. A couple comes in for help with communication and I find that they have struggled with a miscarriage and infidelity in their past. (fyi, these are composite examples, I’m not using exact, real client histories)
It reminds me of the mother of Family Systems, Virginia Satir, and her famous quote, “The problem is not the problem.”
The problem is not the problem, because all “problems” come from something. Our struggles and pain have a root cause, which means both that we should have grace for others and that that’s where our own work needs to happen.
Makes me wonder which of my “real problems” I am blind to and how they impact others in my life. I guess the benefit of my job is that I’m constantly confronted with mirrors- I do see what I don’t want to happen in my clients sometimes, but I also see myself in my clients sometimes.
I hope I am always searching my heart for that place where I am not giving and receiving love as I should be. Or grace, as Christ has shown me.
And this, of course, leads us to God’s grace. I cannot be fully loving and gracious without receiving the unmerited and unfathomable love and grace that Christ has shown me.
Robert Capon says this about it:
“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred-proof grace–of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us singe-handedly. The word of the gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, nor the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.”
And now back to my tub of chocolate-chip cookie dough and gallon of milk.