Realising what God has given me.
I am leaving in a few hours to fly to Boston. Tomorrow I'll fly from Boston to Seoul, a few days after that I will fly to Hong Kong, and then a few more days after that I'll fly to Nanjing, a city in main land China.
I will be teaching on subjects about which I've been writing for the last several years: addiction, research, spiritual competency in psychotherapy, wellness and well-being.
I will meet with graduate students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Nanjing University, but I will also conduct supervision with established clinicians in the area.
When I teach it is a two-way street. What I mean by that is that I must make a connection with the people with whom I am talking.
I am dialogical by nature, and if I am forced into monologue through some kind of disconnect between myself and the students — if I cannot interact with them — I am dead. I hate the intellectual dump.
When I do that, I can see their minds go numb, I can see their eyes begin to roll back into their heads, and I know I am talking to myself. I hate it.
So, hopefully, even though these will be academic venues, with fixed seating, often in amphitheatre style, I will be able to engage people.
Perhaps I will call individuals down in front with me to do some kinds of exercises. I'll have to see if these people are up for that.
I am sitting here in front of the computer thinking out loud, feeling excited. I still have to finish packing.
The cats are taken care of. Someone will be house sitting. Doodle is a scaredy cat; he'll be living under the bed.
Dixie is a lover; she'll be out front introducing herself almost immediately. Brutus has not realised his full social potential as of yet, but he has a sweet face and tiny voice inside a big body that tens to get the attention and melt the heart.
Hmmm. Maybe he's more manipulative that have given him credit for. Cheetah is the totally outdoors cat. He is this tiny and frail looking thing with asthma that would rip you to shreds if he wanted to.
The other cats don't give him any trouble. It will be interesting to see how our house sitter does with that lot.
It is moments like this when I become quite reflective. Here I am going on a teaching tour of Asia.
Several years ago, when I was homeless and camping out with relatives I told God, “Even at this late stage of the game, Lord, if you can get any mileage out of this life it's all yours.”
Then, the whirlwind began.
Within a few months I was living and practicing psychology in Bermuda. Within a few months after that, I remarried (to a wonderful person who is a miracle in herself).
Then I began writing this column, and from there a surge of professional writing developed. I just completed my third book, I have edited or co-edited two others, and I have two other edited books coming together next year.
I have contributed chapters in books and journal articles too numerous to list here.
I have been involved with professional colleagues by teaching in London, Manchester, Oxford, Rome, a conference centre just outside of Antwerp (Belgium), Argentina, Vancouver, BC, New York City, Spetses (Greece), and after this trip to Asia, I'll be doing a workshop on the concept of the body of Christ in Christian groups for a conference in Belfast, Ireland.
When I was ten years old I sat under a large fruit tree in the back pasture where we lived, and I talked with God. I told Him I just wanted to leave this world and go to be with Him.
I also told Him I wanted to be a writer. I think He said yes to the latter and not yet to the former. I have found my purpose.
It happened because I have spent a lifetime talking with God about my life and that of other people and because, even through very difficult times, I never stopped. I never gave up.
I have good relationships with agnostic and atheist colleagues, and I have argued with brutally oppressive secular professors along the way.
I am not perfect, but I know what I used to be, and I know the difference between knowing God and not knowing God. I would rather be living under a bridge with Him than living in the grandest palace with Him.
I am a psychologist. I am a psychotherapist. I love doing this kind of work.
I straddle two rich fields of study and knowledge: clinical psychology and pastoral theology. When moments like this arrive, and I look back at the life I've lived, and when I realise what God has given me, I know that I am rich and that I have lived a good life.
As much as I would like to, I cannot simply give this to other people, even and especially other people that I love deeply.
Each person must turn and face the God who is there. Each person must say, “If you are real, make yourself known to me.” Each person must say, “If you can get any mileage out of this life, then it's yours.”
There is no formula that guarantees wealth and health. There is only the person of God with whom to spend your days. Only? I am laughing.
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