End Game

As a chaplain I have many opportunities to provide counseling to the people I serve with. Some folks just need someone to bounce an idea off of or need another set of eyes on a problem. Other folks come and talk to me several times as we together engage to bring growth and healing to their lives.

In my divorce recovery group tonight we discussed how to know when it is time to get into another relationship and what are some of the flags that might warn you away from a potential partner. The idea of dating someone in therapy came up to which I shared this idea: most people would benefit at some point in their from seeing a counselor - that is to engage in a deliberate process to develop oneself that is therapeutic (healing). Why? Because we are a fallen human race, we are not perfect, we all make mistakes, and we could all benefit from character and personal development.

That said though, I often share with my counselees that real in-depth self-examination and profound character development can be hard. Many people come to see me because they are hurting and they want to stop hurting. But there are lots of ways you can stop when the struggle is very difficult.

You can quit. Or you can win. Both are ways to stop a difficult struggle. I remember when I started trying to loose weight over twenty years ago now, it got very hard. I missed snacks. I missed sweets. It was hard when I saw other people eating stuff I wanted to. And I was hungry, in real physical pain and discomfort. And I had such a long way to go, starting at 320 pounds. And truth be told, I was a quitter. I had tried to loose more than once. But this time, I had some encouraging circumstances and a bit more maturity and had developed a bit more personal drive and self-discipline. This time I was determined to win. Today I weight 164.

Life is hard. The divorce care program I lead says as one of its tag lines "because life isn't sugar coated". Real life can be hard. But it can also be wonderful. Life can be a struggle. To match our potential is not easy. But when faced with a struggle - you may find yourself asking - will I quit or will I win.

Sometimes quitting can be fatal. I have someone in the family very close to me who fought off lung cancer but only need to quit smoking to probably have many more years. But in that struggle they quit. And the cancer has returned. I've talked with folks who life has beaten up on and they can't see a way past the pain and for them they are close to the ultimate quit. Sometimes to quit a struggle is suicide. Ending can never be the ultimate goal. I always encourage people to see the ultimate goal as victory over adversity.

Sometimes you have two choices - give up or push through. One of the reasons I am a chaplain is because I want to encourage folks to push through. Life can be incredible on the back side of some amazing struggles. And I don't want to ever give evil or the devil an easy win, and that's what we do when we give up and quit whether in be in a personal life or any other level of life. I like systems theory because I see so many things that work a certain way for individuals and couples, also work for organizations, society, and beyond. What's really cool about my divorce care group, is that together they pool their wisdom and their energy to help each other carry through to healing and renewal.

Rocky said it well: "It's not about how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done."