I am no professional counselor. Not even close. But I do know that some of the most important things a counselor does for another person is to: 1) listen; 2) pay attention to what the other person is really saying; 3) refuse to approve of unacceptable behavior; and 4) hold up the mirror (psychologically and/or spiritually speaking) that makes the other person look realistically at himself or herself and what they are doing.
I recently had a conversation with a friend from out of town who has continued in an unhealthy relationship for two years. This person knew the relationship was not healthy from the very beginning of it. Yet, two years later, the relationship continues with all the same complaints about the other person being manipulative, needy, broken, etc.
If my friend has chosen to let the relationship continue over that length of time and it is still as unbalanced and unhealthy as it was in the beginning, it is not the other person's fault. The circumstance fell to me to be the one to hold the mirror up and ask, “So, what are you getting out of it? What is your payoff? If you really mean all of the things you've said about this person and said to this person and nothing has changed, why - after two years - are you still in the middle of it?”
We are close enough friends that this person did not disown me or get angry with me for confronting them with those questions. They weren't easy to ask, and I'm sure they weren't easy to hear, but my friend knew I was asking from a heart of love and prayer. Our friendship is tough enough to stand a little personal honesty.
Some people would rather wallow in their risky behavior than have anybody point it out. Some people don't really want a dialogue with a friend. They just want an audience. They want approval. They want someone to ease the guilt they are accumulating from continuing in an inappropriate behavior or relationship.
I am not that person for anyone. If I see someone I love in a car, headed off a cliff at 100 miles an hour, I am not going to say, “Enjoy yourself while it lasts and have a good trip.”
Holding the mirror up for someone else to have to take an honest look at what they are doing is not easy. Having someone else hold a mirror up for me to have to look is not easy, either. But if I need it again, I surely hope that God will put someone in my life to be the kind of friend that loves me enough to hold the mirror and say, “Take a look.”
I am amazed at the number of really intelligent people who get caught up in some crazy scheme, some melodrama or some twisted relationship and they can't see it for themselves. That doesn't mean that we should love them any less, but a true friend will not be the enabler or the encourager who will applaud while that person is headed down a road at top speed that will run them over the cliff or head on into a brick wall.
Guilt, in most cases, is a healthy thing. It is a moral compass that tries to warn a person that they are headed in the wrong direction. I personally think our society has been so desensitized to what is “right” or “wrong” and has embraced the “if it feels good at the moment, do it” philosophy that there is not nearly as much healthy guilt in the world as there should be. Because of that, it is much easier for people to lose their way.
Society at large wants to be politically correct - leaving few people, friends, teachers, preachers or politicians who want to have to have a backbone. We are in a “dark age” of society where the population at large would moral mirrors to be covered in black cloth.
I am not saying that any one person, political party or religious group has the right to go around randomly bashing people over the head when they do ridiculous things. But when someone asks for honesty, don't they deserve to get it?
Who will hold a mirror up for our government officials to take a long, hard, honest look at the direction they are leading our country and the realistic place the United States holds in the world view? If they would stop the blame game and quit pointing fingers at everyone besides the face they see in the mirror, what a difference it would make.
A mirror needs to be held up to our media and let them see just how arrogant and damaging the images and ideologies they project are to everyone who views them. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press have become the banner for “tolerance” of every ungodly thing under the sun, every radical political group and every antisocial behavior on the planet.
At some point in every single person's life, there needs to be a time in front of the mirror - long enough to get a glimpse of who they are and where they are headed. There are only a few precise moments in an individual's life when they actually want to see the truth or can deal with it in a way that will bring about positive change.
I often pray the psalm that says, “Search me and know me. See if there be any wicked way in me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.” I want God to be the one who holds the mirror up and encourages me through His love to take an honest look.