Who is this person standing before me?

When James stepped onto the train, he wasn’t thinking too much about where he would sit. Preoccupied with whatever it was that he was listening to on his phone, he may have been unaware that he had sat down opposite the only other person in the carriage.

The stranger however, was well aware of James, and watched as he put his bag on the seat, expecting maybe to acknowledge his presence with even a nod of the head. But their eyes failed to meet.

The long journey home after work is often tiring, and a time of solitude is often welcome. On this occasion however, the stranger would have been happy to chat.

As the train rolled on and his destination drew nearer, he was well aware that the mystery man listening to music, was someone he was not going to meet.

In today’s uncertain society, it’s understandable why anyone might not be in a hurry to make conversation with a stranger, especially in a lonely train carriage.

But it’s also very sad.

In the book of Genesis, we learn that humanity was created in the image of God. What a mind-blowing concept that is!

To think that the God of the universe, who can make the DNA with its twenty-three chromosomes by merely thinking it into existence, and billions of galaxies without even having to stand up from His throne, made us like Himself!

Clearly, we don’t possess all of His power, knowledge and attributes. But theologians tend to agree, that being made in His image means we have many similar characteristics. Enough to make relationship not only possible and enjoyable but one in which love for each other can thrive.

In that sense, it would be more appropriate to say, we are like Him, rather than that He is like us.

David Benner in his book, “The Gift of Being Yourself”, says…

“Human beings exist because of God’s desire for companionship. We are the fruit of God’s love, reaching out towards creatures who share enough similarity that relationship is possible.”

Just imagine … God wanting to make creatures which He can have as friends. It’s only logical that if we are going to be genuine friends, we have to enjoy some similarities of character, values and mental aptitude.

Despite our similarities, He is still God and we are the beings that He has created.  Recognising our differences suggests that, regardless of our likenesses, there are zillions of things about God, that we will not only never understand, but not even know about.  We will be learning about Him, forever.

But here’s the strange bit.

Benner enlightens us further by likening knowing God, and ourselves, to a circle.

If we want to get to know God, we need to get to know ourselves. And if we want to learn about ourselves, we need to get to know God.

If we have many similarities to God, and we are all like Him, that suggests to me that every human being has many things about them I simply don’t know about also. I have to assume then, that every person has within them, many aspects of God that I am privileged to discover.

What an honour it is then, when coming into the presence of someone, to have the opportunity to learn something of the many things that are unique to them. Things that will bear the resemblance of the One who gave them.

Makes me think twice about rabbiting on about myself when I have so much to learn about you.

Why would anybody want to fiddle with their phone, when seated in front of someone with whom they could be talking… someone who has the characteristics of God?

So what’s with the lighthouse?

Apart from the fact that I like lighthouses and find them fascinating and mysterious, they seem to express the ideas and concepts I wish to write about.

 

Most of us would agree that the bright flashing light warns of danger.

I like to think that there’s another way of thinking about it. The captain of a ship may also conclude, “If I stay in the safe lanes designated on the map, I’ll be safe and have nothing to worry about.”

Over many years talking to people in distress, I have seen a strong parallel with the idea of following known and reliable paths. The problem is, not everybody knows about those paths. simply because they have forgotten about them, drifted away from them, or never had the opportunity to learn about them.

It is those safe and proven paths, I wish to share.

Some of the things you will find in the coming pages, will be familiar to you. Others may not.

I look forward to sharing with you, some of the paths I have seen, that are worth following.

Understanding our differences

Albert Einstein once said, ‘Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed’.

 

Brilliant as he definitely was, Einstein, only got it half right. You don’t have to be disappointed.

 

Terry and Joanne were both struggling in their marriage. They said they loved each other but somehow, Joanne found herself continually irritated by the way Terry did things.

Terry, on the other hand, couldn’t see anything wrong with the way he did things and failed to see what Joanne was all upset about.

The body language said it all. Joanne was leaning as far away from Terry to make it clearly obvious there was something she didn’t like about him.

Joanne had dragged Terry along to see me in the hope that I would agree with Joanne, that Terry was quite screwed up and I would tell him in no uncertain manner that he needed to change the way he did things.

This strange idea is based on the myth that counsellors have a vast bucket of knowledge, wisdom and good judgement. To say nothing of authority. How wrong she was. We are just ordinary people like everybody else.

What we are well-skilled in however, is the ability to observe what is going on right in front of us. Hopefully, with the skills to reflect this behaviour back to the clients in a way that they will see the light and decide what they want to do about it.  That’s the theory.

Well it seldom works as easy as that.

Continue reading “Understanding our differences”