Much of my life, my reading was driven by a desperate hope to Find Answers. I never admitted it to anyone, but, to tell the truth, I often hoped each author would turn out to be a kind of “father,” an authority who could finally define why I was depressed, why my marriage was failing, why my kids were rebelling, why evil.
I was working with my Clinical Supervisor, answering one of his probing questions, and he interrupted my explanation. “I notice you often quote various writers to support your assertions. Do you need other authorities to know what you think and feel? Do you need their corroboration to trust it?”
I was stunned.
“You have plenty of experience and knowledge,” he said. “That means you have some authority, too, doesn’t it? I’d like you to trust some of your own abilities when you’re with your patients.”
I was still stunned, but he wouldn’t elaborate any further. Nosey bastard.
The Tale Wagged
Jesus said,“Call no man father,” but for decades I didn’t have a clue why that could be such a big deal.
Then what he meant dawned on me: no other human being should have the key to my innermost safety, my basic well‑being. If I secretly hope anyone can be a “Father” (or Mother), it’s a warning light flashing red: I just can’t be a child forever.
I’ll grant you, this one can be tricky; we’re often too independent, stuck in our egos. From time to time, it’s obviously useful (sometimes necessary) to receive an authoritative kick in the butt. But in the deeper, persistent, on-going realms of the heart, it’s best if we get correction from a Brother or a Sister or a Coach; haven’t we had enough gurus?
So what is the right way to read and listen and seek?
I’ve come to feel I should read books the same way I hang out with a good friend: we share and compare tips for the journey. We’re like hobos, reading each other’s graffiti tags for places that are safe, places to avoid.
[Thanks again, Joe.]
Yeah, but how do we put it into practice?
Notice if you have a “boss” in your private heart or mind. Notice whether you’ve abdicated too much of your living to that figure. If he (or she or it) has become a kind of “father”, “mother”, or guru, just calmly examine the consequences, making sure they are helping you grow up.
If they’re keeping you a child, it may be time to move out and get your own place.