An Incessant Itch

by Christian Thomas Golden

I face deception nearly every day. No. I face it every day. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to council one who is highly skilled at the art of deception. Five days of the week, I am speaking of imprisoned youth. Seven days of the week, I am speaking of myself.

I do not think you know what it’s like. There is no way of knowing when such a person is being honest. I can convince myself of anything. Yet, somehow, I still believe that everything anyone tells me is true. It still takes me a moment to realize hey, he may have just lied to me.

No. He absolutely just lied to me.

We were only talking about who his favorite athlete is, and he just lied to me. I asked him his favorite color, and he lied to me. I asked him his favorite food, and he lied to me.

It’s not only that.

He goes out of his way to ask me questions. He goes out of his way to speak to me. I must assume that he is being deceptive at all times.

You see, to have a job as a counselor is a paradox. The very fact that I am being paid to counsel is a hindrance to counseling. Now, on top of that, I am a counselor for imprisoned youth. As a youth counselor at my facility, I also am responsible for processing each resident’s release (with the power to either slow it down or speed it up). So, on top of the fact that I am being paid to counsel said youth, the youth act differently around me in order to manipulate me into speeding up (or, at least, not slowing down) their release process.

So, any counseling profession (social worker, psychologist, guidance counselor, etc) is inherently flawed.

Perhaps it is time. I think of it often. When will I do it? When will I go outside, drive to the nearest slum, and start knocking on peoples’ doors? When will I, in spite of my own comfort and fleshly longings, listen to and act upon the will of God?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

You see, I must be sure that – even if it’s not my job – I am counseling out of the correct motive: love. How can I know that I am counseling out of love?

1 Timothy 1:5 “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

Love (that is, loving God first – thereby loving as He loves and as he is love) comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

How do I know whether or not I’m acting out of such love?

James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Job 12:22 “He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light.”

Psalm 139:23 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

Many people (myself included) latch on to ideals. We get a sort of fever for some ideological movement and want to immediately pursue it with all of our energy. This can be something as small as reading a book by an author and feeling compelled to then own all books written by that author. We think that by buying all the books, we are filling some gap in our being.

This also applies to spiritual matters. We hear someone speak of going on a missions trip to some third world country. We hear of the salvations and miracles. We think this is it…this is what I’m made for. We want to drop everything and run in this direction.

But where lies our hearts? What state is our love in?

Only God knows the dark parts of my being. Only God knows the status of my heart. He searches my heart. He knows my heart. He reveals to me what’s in my heart through trials.

I find a peace in knowing that the trials through which I am suffering are not in vein. I find encouragement in knowing that these trials are actually blessings. These trials reveal to me those things which only God knew about me. As I am made aware of my true strengths, weaknesses, and desires, I am better able to recognize the state of my capacity to love as God has called me to love:  from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.