I spent years making a living with the following conversation.
Me: (to distressed couple) “Tell me how you would like things to be in your marriage.”
Distressed Husband, “I would like her to stop…”
Me: (interrupting quickly) “I asked what you wanted, not what you don’t want…”
Distressed Wife, “I wish he would not….”
Me (again interrupting) “It is important to define what you want…both of you clearly know what you do not want, but you must set as a goal, things that you DO want. It is highly unlikely that you will end up with what you want, simply by getting rid of what you do not want.”
When we are frustrated or disillusioned we are very clear about what we do not want. It is much more difficult to envision an image of what we do want. We unconsciously fall back to the default setting; what I wish would stop.
Today, I find myself counseling another distressed Bride.
The church worldwide and blogwise has so many wry and biting observations about who is doing what wrongly. We have become experts on which part of the church is doing which apostate thing, or holding which heretical doctrine.
Sadly, it is just as unlikely that we will arrive at a unified and spotless bride by pointing out what is wrong with everyone (else), as it is that a couple will end up satisfied by getting all the negatives to cease.
Three years ago, I set out to write my book. I went away for a week, and wrote many chapters. I came back, and re-read what I had written. I threw ninety percent of it away. I had written a book to correct the mistakes I perceived in the church. Such a book would only have been one more mistake in a sea of perceived mistakes.
I went away again, and wrote for something instead of against something.
I have pictured in my mind the last few days, a gathering of Christians with a family therapist. A crowd of reformed thinkers sat in a room with a crowd of charismatic feelers. All around the room, the Catholics, and the evangelicals, and the emergent dudes gathered in their factions, (I mean, respective seating areas…).
The Counselor speaks up and says, “Tell me what you want…”
Immediately each group begins to point out the flaws of the others, declaring what they have right and the other has wrong, certain of what every other group needs to correct, and get right.
The Counselor speaks again and says, “It is highly unlikely that you will have what you want by declaring what you do not want. What do you want?
Then, one by one a spokesman (or woman) steps forward from each group, and weighs in.
“I want The Life of God to come forth on a broken world…”, says one.
“I want Jesus to be made known for Who and What He is…” chimes in another.
“I want lost and broken humans to find wholeness and restoration in God’s Presence.” some declare.
“I want the Truth of God to be seen as the Hope of all humanity…”
Several are beginning to catch on now.
“I want people to begin to see God’s Truth as a path to right and healthy living,”
“I want to see more people on their way to Heaven.”
“I want to see Heaven evidenced on the Earth…”
“I want to see the Body of Christ come to Unity as God’s expression on the earth…”
“I want to see people changed from the inside out, becoming more generous and loving…”
“I want to see people, through the Power and Wisdom of God, solve the problems of the human race.”
“I want to see Justice done and evil eradicated…”
The family leaves their seating areas, gathering around the Center, as each begins to describe what they DO want. As they gather, it becomes less evident which seating area they had occupied, as each group mingles around the declarations.
“I want every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”
“I want to see God’s Mercy declared and demonstrated to humanity.”
Soon the voices become a chorus and faces are all looking up instead at one another.
I know how to have what we don’t want…I wonder what we all want?
So tell me, what do YOU want?