'Tis the season to be jolly and all that; a time to give and give in abundance; a time to fling millions at the retailers so that we can gather unto our fecund breast the trappings of the baybee Jeezuss.
I find myself a little confused.com!
I have, in recent weeks, become familiar with the therapeutic encounter and in that setting there are rules that establish the basis for trust and openness - themselves pathways to healing. One of those rules, in the group encounter, is that there is to be "no care-taking"!
Care-taking in this setting refers to that instinctive response (in many) to reach out and offer care to one in distress. If one who is expressing him/herself does so through the visceral haze of tears, or else a rictus grin or the black depths of fury, there is to be "no care-taking". Leave them to cry; let them express their ire. The reason for this is clear, in therapeutic circles:
"The hand that gives is above the hand that receives".
I have pondered this for a few weeks now, in light of the phrase found in Acts that we all know: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20: 35). I have pondered this hard as I have tried (and yes, often failed) to model my meagre existence on this tenet of faith. That there is an inherent power imbalance had never occurred to me, and I am left wondering.
The church (that august body of good men and women) is equipped with many gifts that it would bestow upon you if you so allowed it. We do charity a good'n. We'll cure your homosexuality with the Holy Spirit if you want us to*. We'll lob you a hand-out if the need arises. We'll fling water and oil around to solve your spiritual dis-ease. Yes, we can do all of that. But where is power in this?
Let us forget that it was Napoleon Bonaparte who expressed, so eloquently, the power imbalance so often present through the acts of giving and receiving. It does sometimes worry me that we the church will claim to have them the answers for you the sinner. We will look at your life and tell you where you have gone wrong and bring with us a remedy. Actually, I would go even further. We focus heavily on giving as a virtue because we cannot happily receive. So few of us feel worthy of a God-gift so we shy away from receiving such a grace as that, and defer to giving as the thing that we should be doing.
Again, I write this only for myself - as one with an all-too-quick comment to help you fix that which is broken. I am often too quick to give worthy advice, the answer, a solution. I am learning that just sitting and resisting the urge to "give" means that I remain an equal to the other person, and in real danger of receiving a moment of grace in being party to the story of another. It is certainly a male thing to do the quick fix, but I wonder if it is also an innately (and well intentioned [on the whole]) Christian thing?
* The author of this blog does not regard homosexuality to be a disease like some do. I do not believe that you can be cured of it or should be cured of it. I cannot be cured of my brown eyes or my boyish grin - and why not? Because I was born that way. I condemn homophobia in all its forms - including that which regards it as a curable disease. Enough said.