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Friday, September 30, 2011

Getting Adjusted?

I know quite a bit about psychology. While my degree is in English literature, composition and rhetoric, my 'minor' was in psychology. Later in theological school my focus was on pastoral care, which utilizes a combination of Bible and psychology.

Later on I had significant education in pastoral care from 3 different hospitals that were accredited to provide 'Clinical Pastoral Education.'

So, my background is heavily steeped in the various theories, nuances, and schools of thought associated with psychology/psychiatry.

I can say without doubt that all such theories are flawed. They are but attempts to understand the human psyche, and none of them actually 'get it' fully. They all make positive contributions to the process but still come up short. There is too much we still don't know.

In that regard, I remember a professor stating that the goal of psychological counseling was to get the patient to a place of 'relaxed acquiescence,' meaning that the objective is to help the patient move out of their present state of distress into a place of inner peace.

While I can affirm that manner of thinking to a degree, here again, it comes up short.

A person who is in the throes of emotional upheaval, inner turmoil, and extreme distress does, indeed, need to move to a place of at least some inner peace in order to function in this world. Unless we arrive at such a place, then all of life will be severely disrupted and hampered by the inner emotional demons that haunt us.

At the same time, however, to expect human beings to merely 'acquiesce' in a relaxed fashion to a world environment that is often hostile, is an unrealistic expectation. Mental health professionals tell people that we must 'get adjusted' to life and the world the way it is.

But how?

There IS significant danger all about. Think about it. At any moment the various underground volcanoes that form the earth's crust could burst forth at any moment, obliterating life as we know it for most of the population of the planet.

For example, geologists report that the entire region around Yellowstone, which includes Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and portions of Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, sits on top of a gargantuan volcano that erupted sometime back in pre-historic days. The area is so vast that a casual observer cannot even notice that the area is a volcano or that it ever erupted. But geologists have been able to determine its dimensions, and they claim it could erupt again at any moment, obliterating life as we know it for a large portion of the West, the Rocky Mountains, and portions of the Great Plains states, going all the way down to portions of Oklahoma and Texas.

This example only serves to illustrate the fact that human life on this earth is precarious.

'Getting adjusted' may be an unrealistic expectation. Rather, the goal is to arrive at a rational acceptance of the dangers while at the same time trusting that in any event we are God's offspring and belong ultimately to Him, and thus, it is futile to worry about it.

We were conceived in the mind of God before time began, according to the Bible. And when this particular manifestation of life on what we call 'a planet' is over, we will still exist in another realm, with God as always.

Jesus said, "He who trusts in Me shall never die." Amen!

Here is a great song from the Happy Goodman Family back in their heyday, which describes in song what I've been talking about. It's called "I Don't Want to Get Adjusted." Note how 'Happy' Howard Goodman plays that piano...appearing to beat the devil out of keyboard but actually letting his fingers lightly touch it. This is one of the things for which they are famous. Enjoy...

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