Getting started in a conversation:
Attend. Be present. With-ness. With transcendent curiosity. What's God up to here?
Resist pull. There will never be a moment of relating that's neutral - it's a flesh-Spirit battle at all times. Our visceral, affective, emotional, deep seated pull will very often be inappropriate. A person will tell their story with a particular 'pull' - desiring (sinfully) a particular response.
e.g. A child falls, looks around to see anyone watching, and then cries. A loving mum may well come and kiss them better. The child's pull is to manipulate the mother. But the mother can respond in love without obeying the child's pull (though it may look like it). Instead she's relating out of her own heart to love.
If a person is seeking your pity, more often it is not the loving response to yield to this pull.
Empathy is not the key to counselling - discernment is.
Remain centred in Christ not in the other. Adjust your sail to the Spirit's wind, not to the other's 'pull'.
We must discern flesh dynamics:
Flesh dynamics consists of the interplay of terror driven, passion filled, foolish convictions and strategies that are oriented toward the satisfaction of secondary desires. These are malevolently shaped by the experiences of life and deceptively affirmed as wise and good by the enemy of God - Satan. This is the world, the flesh and the devil.
Reframe: We need to enter with curiosity to reframe someone's story for the purpose of revealing the core flesh-Spirit battle where spiritual formation really occurs. Take it out of the frame it's presented in and place it within the much larger story of God's purposes.
Our soul's story has 4 levels
Present relational - what are the primary relationships, first current but also past...
Past relational. How does this person view the role of others? Where is the relational pain? How is that shaping?
Always look for passions. Sin is never a passionless decision. Brokenness is not an academic thing. It's not the passion of your past but the passion that's there now you want to explore.
- it's incredible how relating an event 50 years past can evoke the very same feelings with the very same intensity. If it doesn't it's not worth exploring. (tho of course there could be layers of self-protection involved).
Immediate relational. What's happening now as we talk? Observe style of relating and pull.
Deepest relational. What image of God was learned and is now held? 'Does the place you give Him in your life reflect what you learned in the flesh or what the Spirit has revealed through Christ?' For this person, what is prayer? Hearing God speak? Fellowship? Worship? Experiencing His presence? Confidence in His goodness?
'How did you pray when you were enduring that abuse?'
'What was yr view of Christ then? What was His view of you do you think?'
Now how do people tell their stories?
Four fleshly ways of telling stories
My identity - Victim
My pull on u - Support
My relational style - Noble perseverance.
My identity - Hero
My pull on u - Applaud
My relational style - Heroic achievement
My identity - Cynic
My pull on u - Join me in cynicism
My relational style - Superior indifference
My identity - Clown
My pull on u - Smile
My relational style - Shallow engagement
Instead we should tell our stories as a transcendent drama.
(My natural inclination is to tell the comedy story with more than a hint of tragedy underneath. That's my complicated splendour. My pull on you is to make you laugh, but later to make you pity me. I'm pretty good at telling these stories. Larry's very good at resisting this pull!)
True brokenness is an opportunity for joy not self-flaggelation.