Sometimes people come to therapy not to inquire. Rather, they come to declare. So it is with this man.
He speaks of a woman. “She’s it for me,” he says. “This is it for me.” He’s not deciding whether to explore the relationship. He’s in it. He’s gone and jumped in the deep end. Just like that.
Now, if this guy valued living sensibly, carefully, and conservatively, then, on paper, this relationship lies somewhere between doomed and impossible. Immutable layers of geography, children, blended family, ex’s, vocation – two lives in two very different worlds, miles apart.
But I’m beginning to get the idea that this guy doesn’t value living sensibly, carefully, and conservatively. So now I’m trying to decide whether this guy is a reckless romantic, terribly immature, or … someone whose faithfulness and courage I greatly admire. Someone who trusts himself and his Maker.
See, there’s a difference between a “deal with the devil” and an act of radical trust and faith, though sometimes the behaviors look very much alike.
How on earth will they ever make their two lives into one? “I have no idea,” says the man. Then, why on earth take the risk of moving forward? The man’s answer: “Because moving forward is the only way to figure out the puzzle. As we move forward in faith, cherishing and nurturing what we have together, the path will emerge. We’ll see it. We’ll just know.”
I’m reminded of those people who, in fierce unyielding principle, pay cash for everything. No cash? Then they don’t buy it.
It’s a fine way to live. Sensible. Careful. Conservative. But … sometimes you just gotta borrow a bunch a money and jump in the deep end. Just like that. Without a clear plan. Because moving forward is the only way to find the plan.
In 1951, W.H. Murray said it this way in The Scottish Himalayan Expedition:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”
Nike Corporation says it this way: “Just do it.”
Jesus says it this way: “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you can tell a mountain ‘Do you mind?,’ and it will move out of your way.”
I said it this way in a song: You stand at the edge looking down in to nowhere/ And then you hear the call/ Something inside of you says to jump/ And build your wings as you fall.
The man reminds me of a character in a parable:
Once upon a time there was a poor peasant who was tired of being poor. He was tired of wishing. Tired of hoping. Tired of settling. Tired of choosing a life of careful, tidy security and sameness. So he asked for, and was granted an audience with the king.
The peasant knew the king was a man of great pride and vanity. So he said to the king, “If you will give me ten bags of gold, I will, within this next year, teach your horse to talk.”
Images spun inside the king’s head. Any king could ride a fine and noble beast, but only he would have a horse that talked!
The king agreed, and called upon his servants to get the gold. “But,” the king said sternly, “lest you trifle with me, be assured: one year from now, if my horse does not talk, then you will lose your head.”
The peasant returned to his home, now a rich man.
But, when the peasant recounted his tale to a friend, the friend exclaimed, “Have you lost your mind?! Horses don’t talk! 365 days from now, you are going to be one DEAD, headless peasant!”
“Not so fast,” the peasant said, peacefully, thoughtfully. “A lot can happen in a year. The king might die … I might die … the horse might die. Then again, maybe the horse will learn to talk. In the meantime, I’M RICH!”
Session over. Not sure why the man scheduled the session. Maybe he wanted to know if I thought he was crazy.
Not that it would matter. This man sees his future – their future – and nothing will stop him from walking toward it.
Steven Kalas is a Nevada author, a therapist and an Episcopal priest. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.