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Eowyn's Heart

The name of this blog is based on the character Eowyn from Lord of the Rings because I strongly identify with her on many levels. The purpose of this blog is to proclaim the glory of my Lord and King through His work in conforming me into the image of His Son, Christ Jesus. In all things, I trust you will see His hand at work.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Learning

I'm just taking a few minutes to process what I've been learning today. For those who don't know, I've begun classes toward a master's degree in professional counseling. I began classes in February and with working full time, looking for work, moving (which is why I was looking for work) and trying to keep up with two classes, there was *no* time for reflection and digestion - it was all about getting the projects done by the due date - and I wasn't 100% successful at that either!

Now that I'm no longer working and have been able to just about catch up with classes (3 more chapters to read and one short reply post and I'm all caught up for what's due this week), I have just a bit more flexibility with my time. So, I'm taking advantage of that today.

My reading today has centered around family systems and therapies. The book is Competent Christian Counseling, Volume One (2002). Dr. Timothy Clinton and Dr. George Ohlschlager are the executive editors. It is REALLY good stuff! HIGHLY recommended reading! Everything is solidly grounded in scripture and where they use secular information it is supplementary and evidentiary of Biblical principles and truths. Anyway here's some pieces I'd like to share:

"When marriages achieve the ideal of soul friendship, the mutual care they
provide affords the possibility of a constancy of soul care that is seldom
possible in other human relationships" (quoted from David Brenner, Strategic
Pastoral Counseling
).

"Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one
that must be satisfied if there is goint to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is
the unshaking need for an unshakeable God" (quoted from Maya Angelou, I Know
Why the Caged Bird Sings
).

Please bear in mind that I am NOT a qualified therapist yet - this is just a student - and a first year student at that - "thinking out loud". I still have a lot of learning to do and could be way off base. These are just my personal assessments based on what I've learned so far.
Through my reading today about marital challenges and various therapies designed to address those challenges (from pre-marital counseling to marriage enhancement to interventions for marriages in serious trouble) and about family systems - the roles people play in family structures, the lies and myths we believe and promote to each other and the circular nature of dsysfunctionality, I've come to think that *most likely* the relationship between husband and wife is centrally causational to the majority of individual and family problems.

Brenner notes the concept of "soul care" within marriage. I think that it is ESSENTIAL that husbands and wives look FIRST to the SOUL care of their mate. Soul care - that's a concept that deserves some contemplation. It's not just making sure the standard perceived needs are met - it reaches farther - it is more intimate. It means caring for the inner life of your spouse - their need to feel fulfilled, their need to feel safe in sharing the deepest and darkest parts of themselves, their need to be encouraged and spurred on to good works, their need to speak the truth in LOVE (which sometimes means filtering what is said so as not to cause unnecessary harm) and to have the truth spoken in love to them so as to encourage positive change. The soul refers to the entirety of the person - more than what is seen or heard in the relationship, but down deep into that which no one but the spouse sees or hears - and, unless there is a strong sense of safety in the sharing, probably not even the spouse. It is the core of the being that needs to be cared for and is all too often neglected in the busy-ness of married life.

One of the concepts covered in today's reading involved the Identified Problem - a role typically assigned to a child - usually the oldest - by parents who have unresolved marital issues. The child becomes the "scapegoat" allowing the parents to unite in dealing with the problem child instead of dealing with their own marital challenges with one another. I think this probably happens in a lot of families. It is the easy way out.

In yesterday's reading I learned a great deal about marital therapy. I am now leaning toward the conviction that a healthy marriage starts with healthy premarital counseling and continues with REGULAR forays into therapy - whether through a bi-annual weekend marriage seminar or "check-ups" with a church counselor or whatever. I think having a neutral party involved is VERY useful as we are often blind to our own destructive thoughts and behaviors. Having someone else question the way things are done in our relationships forces us to step out of ourselves and see things in a different light - allowing us to resolve issues we may not have even realized existed.

Well, these are just some of my thoughts so far. On to the rest of the reading I need to get done today :-)

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