I was going through some boxes today, and ran across a notebook from my Clinical Pastoral Education unit with Fr. Gene Sitzman in Cherokee, IA from the summer of 1999. This unit was conducted at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute, and much of our lecture was on mental illness. The page my notebook flipped open to struck me, as these random occasions can from time to time, and thought what I wrote then was good to share now. Under the heading “5 Unreasonable Expectations”, were these:
1.) People should be better than they are
2.) Everyone should be like me
3.) I can define God
4.) Someday life will not be a struggle
5.) We can change people
I don’t have much to say about these statements right now, but looking over my experience since then, they make sense. We do tend to make God as much like ourselves as we can, however the challenge of faith is to become more like God. Most of this blog is about the struggle to become more like God, like Christ. Number 2 is ludicrous and I would never wish that on anyone. People should be better than they are, of course, but they aren’t, and the expectation is a guarantee of profound pain. Pain for us definitely, and probably pain for those we’re trying to make better in spite of themselves.
We long to live without struggle, but there is a peace in embracing struggle and trying to grow from it. Peace and struggle should probably be disconnected in our minds: we can be at peace and still be struggling with things both big and small.
We can only provide safe places where people can change. People can change, but it’s up to them to find the motivation and will. The only thing beyond providing a safe place where positive change can happen is probably being open to changing ourselves. When we change, we affect the people around us, hopefully for the better. Change for the worse tends to cause problems for those around us, certainly. Perhaps this is the first response to wanting the world to be a better place, seeking to make ourselves better.
This is shooting from the hip this morning, March 24, 2017. Hope this is helpful.