In my last Blog posting, I stated that as an Ecumenical Christian I strive to “accept and love and celebrate the diversity of cultures and faiths and orientations that people bring to therapy.”
When discussing acceptance and inclusivity, some people are quick to respond that “if we just accept everything and everybody, then anything goes. The world is not a healthy nor a safe place, we need some standards for discerning right from wrong, and good from evil.”
I’m reminded of something the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Galatia regarding the discernment of good in people. He wrote that “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” It has been my experience that most of us hold many if not all of these characteristics, these fruits of the Spirit, whether we are aware of it or not. And the Spirit does not discriminate when distributing these fruits – people of all faiths and cultures and orientations have the capacity to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle, and self controlled.
I’m also reminded of a phrase that Jesus spoke: “Seek and ye shall find.” I believe that if we seek out the good in ourselves and others, then the good will flourish. We live in a society that pathologically seeks pathology. We are constantly looking for answers to the question “what’s wrong, and how can we fix it?” Imagine a society where we ask the question “what’s right, and how can we build on it?”
People sometimes enter into therapy because they feel that emotions or behaviors hold them back from experiencing happiness, professional success, and healthy relationships. When we are feeling bad, we naturally seek help. While part of the therapeutic process includes recognizing the challenges we face that take away from our happiness, another substantial part includes recognizing the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts, and the strengths we carry within us.
Along with developing a mindful understanding of the way we think and feel and interact with others, we develop an appreciation for the gifts and strengths that we bring to the table also. And in the process of recognizing both our challenges and our strengths, happiness and healing often emerge.