Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"If a Body 'Catch' a Body, Comin' Through the Rye..."

Larry Crabb’s book, Connecting, has been an interesting and, at times, brow-raising read. Crabb’s ideas for how Christians might more effectively “connect something powerful with something good” utilizing the Christ-like energy within are certainly not old hat idioms in terms of modern Christian writing – he even addresses the obvious risks of positing such a radically different position from his earlier work so late in his professional career. Regardless of the initial reticence that one may feel toward this approach, Dr. Crabb does inspire some compelling internal dialog in the reader regarding the paramountcy of true connection and genuine relationships between Christians, and more importantly, the sobering ramifications of disconnection.

A few things come to mind when I think of “loners”: Jesse James, “Into the Wild”, James Dean, “Desperado” (both the movie and the song by the Eagles), Wolverine from the X-Men, Troy Dyer in “Reality Bites”, that 35 year old guy trying to pass as a high school student on Beverly Hills 90210, many, many of my favorite poets, J.D. Salinger, Doc Holliday, Thoreau during his Walden phase…you get the idea. In this messy milieu of everyone-in-everyone-else’s-business, hyper-social networking, media-crazed insanity we call modern life, it’s a wonder anyone can possibly get away with being a recluse these days, and yet they do. But at what cost?

A lie is still a lie, no matter how popular it may become. No matter how much the media may glorify the lone rebel, or praise the free-spirited, non-committal attitudes of an immoral lifestyle, the fact remains that God built us to be relational creatures who care for and uplift one another while carrying one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2). It would have been utterly cruel and unfair to design us to be islands unto ourselves and then have commanded us to love one another as we have been loved. On occasions too numerous to count, God has used others to open my eyes and heart in ways that would have been impossible otherwise. Isolation prohibits me from receiving this nourishment and connecting in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ which is, well, no bueno. As a somewhat reformed introvert, I can understand the inclination to want to pull into one’s shell, dwelling only on the things and people that we enjoy, but does this really stretch or grow us? Does it help others? As counselors, we will often be in the position of needing to connect in a very meaningful way with a variety of people, some of whom we may vehemently disagree with, and some that we may not even particularly like. Whether we can connect in the way that Larry Crabb suggests remains to be seen, but one thing is clear – our obligation is to the profession of soul-care which means reaching out even when we’re unsure, stepping closer when we might want to run away, and being mindfully present when maybe, we would rather be fishing.


  1. I have actually been thinking quite a bit about the contents of your last sentence these past few weeks. How in the world am I going to be able to be a counselor, when I sometimes have a hard time connecting and listening even in safe, and predictable envioronments. I have felt insecure at the thought of the potential task ahead (barring I make it through this program!), of caring for whomever walks through your doors for varying lenghts of time without judgement. I was encouraged though, by the realization that same "get connected" encouragement that Dr. Crabb is giving to help clients, will actually be for us as the counselors as well. Even simply the thought of intentionally connecting with other counselors to aviod being the "loner" as you put it, and being mentored through those first years of fears, wandering thoughts, interesting client/counslor interactions calms my spirit. In light of my reaction, I wonder if the benefits of connecting can happen even without someone physically present?

  2. Very well said. I too am an introvert whose learned to come out of my shell more, and as a professional counselor, I would need to be able to connect with my clients. I would say that being an introvert has its strengths in regards to counseling, since most introverts are very good at small groups or 1-on-1 meetings.

    However, God made us relational beings, and so it is paramount that we actually learn to reach out to others, even if it is not part of our personality to do so. Many times, I find myself actually being self-centered when I withdraw to myself. There is wisdom in finding time to be alone, but wanting to be alone without actually reaching out to others can end up being a very selfish act.

    Thanks for the post! It got me thinking!


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