“Why do you think you shouldn’t be having this problem?” This question from a marriage counselor to a couple who had come to him complaining, “We shouldn’t be having this problem!” struck me as a good one to ask ourselves when we find ourselves disgruntled about difficulties we are experiencing relating to others within Conference.
“Why do we think we shouldn’t be having these problems?”
The implications of the counselor’s question to the arguing couple could be interpreted as “Whatever your relationship now, whatever your pathway to this place, you got here together. If you want to go somewhere ‘better,’ you will have to go there together.”
Of course, we — just like the fighting couple — do not usually believe such talk. We are prone to quickly rebuffing it by asserting, “We are here because of YOU!”
Unfortunately, even such a reply for the couple would reveal the insight of the question. Such severe projection does not show independence but “enmeshment” — a kind “stuck together by molasses-covered strings of unsettled issues and resentful, hurt feelings.”
Well-differentiated parties — those who have resisted “blaming” but together have defined each one’s responsibilities — can stand apart but remain committed not only to each other, but to each one’s part in moving forward in a healthy way.
In all living relationships shared responsibility is the best pathway to satisfaction and new possibilities. Ephesians 4: 16 says, “From him [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
When those in Christian relationships begin to fight one another, they often abandon the natural communal functioning of a living body, and move to blaming one another and viewing one another as at least the “problem,” if not the “enemy.”
In a body, certainly being “different” is not only common, but a necessity for survival. But well differentiated organs function interdependently. And when a living body experiences some dis-function, such a living body responds as a unified whole to remedy the difficulty.
So I wonder if in times when we feel aggravation or distrust within the body of Christ, we might do well to ask ourselves the counselor’s question: “Why do we think we should not be having these problems?” Asked together as a shared question which implies creating together a shared solution seems both the natural way for a “healthy living body” to respond, but also the most likely way for that “body” to move forward toward a shared and beautiful future.