The dictionary says that the word “Ecumenical” means universal, and that the word is usually applied to promoting unity within the Christian faith. The root of the word comes from the Greek Oikos, which means “house.” This ever shrinking world we call “earth” is our home. We are all neighbors, we are all family members, and wouldn’t it be nice if we all tried to be friends as well?
When I think about what it means to be an Ecumenical Christian, I start by asking myself: what does it mean to have a good friend? I think in terms of someone who accepts me for who I am, loves me unconditionally, and believes in me.
What does it mean to accept someone for who they are? The core of who I am is defined by my Christian faith, my family life, my occupation, and many other factors. So naturally I appreciate a friend who respects and accepts me as a Christian, a family man, and as a licensed counseling minister.
I also love music, I love to fish and garden, I love to write, and I’m also a certified EMC engineer. I appreciate a friend who respects and accepts these aspects of who I am as well.
I’ll admit, I don’t particularly like it when people point out my faults. But if I’m struggling with an issue, I like having a friend who offers help and support. And if I’m not ready to accept help, I like being able to say “no thank you,” and still know that my friend will be there for me. I also like knowing that my friend is familiar with my gifts and strengths, and believes that my goals and ambitions are achievable, especially when I doubt myself.
When I think about the characteristics I appreciate in a friend, I think of some of the words that Jesus had to say on the subject. Words like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Then I think of some of the friends who I am blessed to have. I have friends who are Christians of all varieties, including Evangelical, Ecumenical, and Catholic. I have friends who are Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, “New Age”, Hindu, and Atheist. I have many friends who are not sure of what faith represents who they are.
I also have friends who are married, single, with children, without children, male, female, gay, straight, bisexual, and just not sure of who they are yet.
For me, being an Ecumenical Christian means being a Christian who recognizes that we are all connected, we are all family, and who tries to accept, love, and believe in others. An Ecumenical Christian tries to be patient and available when a someone needs help, and looks for and encourages the strengths and gifts within others.
And this is what I bring to my therapeutic practice. I love working with people of all faiths and orientations, and I strive to accept and love and celebrate the diversity of cultures and faiths and orientations that people bring to therapy. I help people to identify and build on the gifts and fruits that they bring with them, and I love seeing the light that shines in a person’s eyes when he or she realizes how loved and gifted they really are.
LAPC, NCC, MACC, MTS, and NCE
July 9, 2014