Biblical counselors have erred by assuming that one story is the only story. To keep our errors to a minimum, we work to listen more and say less. Good advice certainly—but there is more we can say.
Listen to Scripture, listen to people. This is how we grow in our care and counsel. And grow we must if we want to help someone who has stories beneath stories. Most addicts do.
Flea is the bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He is a sensitive soul whose father left when he was six. The men who entered that void surrounded him with violence and alcoholism that turned him to drugs and the streets by eleven. Now sober and in his late 50’s, he reflects on those early years. “I stopped doing drugs and doing alcohol when I was about 30. Then I started feeling everything, and sometimes it was a river of pain.”
Sin and misery make our lives quite complicated. For every person’s story, there seems to be a story beneath that and another beneath that. Flea’s cover story was the rock star who fulfilled the mandate of drugs and other excesses that flirt with death. Beneath that was a musician who could clash with bandmates over musical direction. Beneath that was a person who loved his friends and lost many of them to overdoses, among them his mentor and bandmate Hillel Slovak. And beneath that was an early life of gross victimization, cruelty, and abandonment, which he struggled, with some success, to forgive once he entered his 40’s. Together, these were his unending river of pain.
Given this complexity, how can we ever help? Our counsel might speak to one story but miss a more important one. How can we know someone well enough to say anything? Biblical counselors have erred by assuming that one story is the only story. To keep our errors to a minimum, we work to listen more and say less. Good advice certainly—but there is more we can say.