I’ve never been a “good counselor.” The desire to advocate is really strong in my psyche, and it kinda gets in the way. Though, one of the couples I married did recently tell me that our pre-marital sessions were helpful so that’s nice (but rare). I think that one of the big reasons I don’t care to do “counseling sessions” is because people tend to come to them “on guard.” This is fine for a counselor who’s been trained to see through the counseling session mask, but I really don’t care for it all that much.
What I’d much rather do is get sucked into a TV show with some folks and establish a relationship where people don’t find it odd that I’m asking questions like, “So, how’s your marriage doing with you being out of work for so long?” (that’s a completely hypothetical question, don’t try to figure out who I posed it to). It’s amazing to me how people feel open to discussing even the most intimate details of their lives when they are relaxed and feeling connected to the people they are talking to. I’ve had significant discussions with people over Flyers Games, episodes of Lost, and even watching the News. There’s something about chilling out with another person that sets people at ease.
Sadly, I don’t count “being a member of the same church” as a significant connection at this point, it’s too much of an “after-thought” community for the bulk of people – and the people who do consider it their primary community often don’t trust those who are “new” to the fold enough to be open. Even Bible studies or small groups don’t seem to as easily create these types of connections in smaller or “long-established” congregations. This is an utter shame, to be honest, because the message of the New Testament is that the bond of Christ ought to create a greater trust than a sports team or TV-show – and yet my over-whelming experience in small churches is that this bond just doesn’t seem to exist. Yet, on the other hand, it affords me the opportunity to bring Jesus into “every-day” social situations with people who are not Christians, new believers, or folks who have let that bond of trust that Jesus is supposed to form between believers whither. My hope is that folks will start to feel the longing for a deeper connection, which finds it’s outworking only as the Holy Spirit binds us into communion with God and each other.
Until then, and maybe beyond then, I’ll keep doing my counseling by the TV or waiting to pick the kids up from school. It seems to put me into more “open” situations with interesting people – and sometimes I even notice when Jesus shows up.