What do you expect when you enter into a counseling relationship? Most come in with a very specific problem or issue that they would like removed from their lives. Clients tell me, “I just want to stop crying,” “I’ve got to change,” or “I can’t stop thinking about it.” Some come right out and say “I just want to be normal!”
When “normal” is the goal, we have a funny way of achieving less than we intended to. We manage our problems rather than resolving them. But the truth is that problems that crop up in life can be solved, if we just aim for the right goals.
Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist made famous by surviving the concentration camps of the Holocaust and writing about his experiences and beliefs about the human race, compares this to flying a plane in a crosswind. If you aim directly for your target you will surely miss. If you aim ahead of your target, in fact beyond your target, you will get where you’re trying to go. If you have a few minutes, I urge you to watch this video of Frankl lecturing on this point – it is very moving.
Think of what you might want to change in your life and imagine all the crosswinds that might blow you off course: the status quo, fear of failure, desire for stability, unknown reactions of others, confusion, lack of motivation, etc. The list goes on and on. It’s not a fault of your own, it’s just the way things are. Change is hard. Period.
Frankl quotes Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in saying “If we take a man as he is, we make him worse; but if we take him as he should be, we help him become what he can be.” This makes more than a little sense to a Christian counselor. We look to scripture and Jesus’ teachings to guide who we should be. Not just morally and in terms of right and wrong, but relationally and as a guide to lead a meaningful life with fulfilling relationships. As a result we are finally able to become what we can be. C.S. Lewis puts it another way: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”