We feel safe enough to heal when we experience a shared humanity.
I only went to see this doctor once. His personality, or lack of it, made me wonder whether under his smooth shaven skin was actually an android. No sense of empathy or human compassion for my sprained ankle could be seen.
He treated me, charged me, and then sent me on my way.
I’ve met others like this too (Yikes, I wonder if they are breeding) and sadly all too often in the helping professionals.
They are all professional and programmed up to the latest model of ‘care’.
The ones that I have found to be truly helpful are those that know and accept their flawed humanity. We connect because we have shared imperfections.
We connect because we have found someone just like ourselves.
Go to a recovery group such as Alcoholics Anonymous and you will experience the richness of a common humanity. Join an online support group and you will see the agape love flow.
The essence of all successful psychotherapy is love
We feel safe when we are loved and respected.
In Becoming a True Community (also published as The Safest Place on Earth) Larry Crabb suggests that love is the core element of healing. I think he must know Paul of 1 Corinthians 13 fame.
In Successful Psychotherapy: A Caring, Loving Relationship, psychologists C.H. Patterson and Hidore admit that psychotherapy is in chaos. Their solution is worth a second look.
Profession helping efforts, they suggest, should abandon identifying specific diagnosable disorders and coming up with specific technical treatment plans.
They should instead focus on one simple yet profound idea – that the essence of all successful psychotherapy is love.
They go so far as to suggest that their book could well have been titled Psychotherapy: The Purchase of Love. Larry Crabb Becoming a True Spiritual Community: A Profound Vision of What the Church Can Be
My mind goes to counselling schools having classes on Love with 1 Corinthians 13 as the core text.
Or maybe the story of The Man in the Ditch aka The Good Samaritan.
Jesus was asked a question ‘So who is my neighbour’?
He answers with a parable.
“And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. Luke 10:30 – 33
Jesus chose the hero of this story to be someone who knew exactly what it was like to be thrashed, smashed and isolated. The stigmatised Samaritan heart connected with the semi-conscious dying heart.
The samaritans as a people were the outsiders. They were the ‘impure’, the ones who didn’t get it right, the shunned. They were the hated, the worst of the human race.
They were the ones that knew full well what it was like to live on the outside and watch others walk by with arrogance and pride.
Why did the Samaritan cross the road?
Why did the Samaritan cross the road?
Because he saw himself.
It’s your eyes I want to see
Looking into mine
Got you live on my mind
All the time
Are you too chicken to know yourself and to know others?
Remember that this is not a story about the Samaritan. This is all about the Man in the ditch and what he experiences.
What I want to experience, when I am in a ditch of mental unwellness, is a heart of shared humanity. A heart that beats with agape love.
So before you prescribe, problem solve, pray or parade out your own war stories just listen.
Linger on the heart that has been traumatised, thrashed over by robbers and stripped naked for all the world to see. Get in the ditch. Let your feet feel the dirt.
Quotes to consider
- The opposite of love is not hate , it’s indifference. Elie Wiesel
- Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread. D.T. Niles
- Real encouragement occurs when words are spoken from a heart of love to another’s recognized fear. Larry Crabb
- A vision we give to others of who and what they could become has power when it echoes what the spirit has already spoken into their souls. Larry Crabb Connecting
Questions to answer
- What fears rise up in you from this post?
- Who for you would be someone you would least expect or even desire loving compassion from? Why them?
- A shared humanity. What does this thought challenge you with?
Image cc: Adam Porter