Dr. Wall explains the two major principles behind the themes in his blogs and therapy practice. He suggests they are not just limited to his blogs, that they are played out in our lives every day. Maybe it’d be good to know what these principles are?
A man reaps what he sows.
Through love and faithfulness, sin is atoned for.
Yesterday two different clients hinted that they thought I was using their situation for my recent blogs. I was a little taken back by that because I pride myself on NOT discussing any individual situation. I’ve had clients ask me if I was in their living room the night before because the things I was explaining were going on right before their eyes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you see a wolf come out of the hen house you probably are going to have a mess when you go inside. When you’ve heard the same story with different details hundreds of times you can kind of put two and two together.
The observations I’m making are based on two biblical principles. Every blog is just a variation on these two themes. Every therapy session I have with a couple or an individual dances between these two. These two principles are fundamental to human nature. You encounter them every day in your heart, in your thoughts, in your actions, in your interactions and so when you read one of my blogs and it gets a little creepy that maybe I was spying on you it’s not that I know something everybody else doesn’t know. I’m just discussing the themes. You bring the variations. The variations are different and myriad. The principles remain the same.
The two principles are:
You reap what you sow.
If you quit sowing hurtful seeds, and sow helpful seeds, you will heal from the hurt in the past and your future will be blessed.
There you have it. Those are the two themes. If you sow evil thoughts, selfish thoughts, selfish actions, you will calcify your heart and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. If others have hurt you (like a parent who abused you or neglected you or a spouse who does porn or had an affair or insists on divorcing you), you have to figure out how NOT to let the others’ hurt toward you cause you to sow more seeds of evil and selfishness. You have to figure out how to rise above it. You don’t know how, so you come and ask me how. And sometimes you are thrilled with the ideas I might suggest and other times you may be madder than a pistol, but the end result is if you figure out how to NOT let the evil done to you intentionally or unintentionally cause you to harden your heart and you can still plant seeds of grace and forgiveness and healing and hope, then, over time, you will eventually harvest a crop of grace and forgiveness and healing and hope. But if you let these hurts cause your heart to get bitter and resentful and nasty and revengeful and you nurse those wounds and you plant those seeds and you water and hoe them, then, well, guess what your future life is going to look like? Hello.
The second principle is really just a specificity of the first. It explains in a nutshell what happens when people quit harvesting hurtful, evil, selfish, sinful, revengeful seeds. You are sowing seeds every day. You are either sowing the negative seeds with your thoughts and choices and actions or you are sowing positive seeds. And if you sow positive seeds over time, you will harvest a positive crop. And you will marvel at Bing’s wisdom. But I’m really not all that smart. You knew all of these things all along because God gave you a conscience and you’ve either been listening to it or ignoring it your whole life. If you’ve ignored it your conscience gets quieter and quieter until it is so soft you can barely hear it. When you come to see me I try to hook up a loud speaker to your conscience so you can hear God’s still voice again. That’s all. I’m just a seed planter. I never know what seeds you will water and hoe and which you will trample under foot.
You can see, if you stop and look, how these two themes can work out in a marriage. I’m amazed at the power good has to triumph over evil. I’ve seen couples where both are harvesting seeds of hurt and revenge and after a few sessions one will start making an effort to NOT harvest those types of seeds any more. He or she will start being kinder or more understanding or actually listen or reach out to the other. And maybe the person’s spouse is hesitant or suspicious at first, but then, whatdayaknow? That spouse starts being nice back and then boom, we’re off to the races and on the road to healing and reinventing the marriage.
And I’ve seen couples where both get it right away, that they both have to quit being so snippy or indifferent or stubborn and they’d better start investing in each other because those hurtful seeds they’ve been nursing are just a big nuisance and they are crowding out joy and victory and they are both sick of all that and booom their lives change and they never go back. That is so much fun. Some of these folk have started changing before they ever came to therapy and therapy becomes just one step on their road to success.
And I’ve seen it where one spouse gets it, that the seeds of hurt and selfishness that both have planted are not the way to live and that spouse start sowing seeds of caring and concern and sacrifice and kindness and the other spouse spurns it as so much drivel or as just one more way the newly changed spouse is manipulative and controlling and he or she will never fundamentally change so I am going to divorce your sorry butt, because I know who you are and you’ll never be able to be the spouse I need you to be. Which, of course, if you think about it, is pretty sad, but there’s not much you can do about it other than pray to God that you don’t let that person’s hardness of heart cause your own heart to turn into salt because then the skeptical spouse would have turned out to be right and that’d be just really, really sad, that both souls have to crash and burn. One is bad enough.
And I’ve seen it where neither spouse is able or willing to make adjustments and both cling to the seeds that they are used to planting and they scoff or ignore or tremble in fear at the thought of sowing any other kind of seeds than the seeds they are used to planting and for them, of course, therapy doesn’t work out so well. I’m not so crass that I blame my clients for this. I try to learn from it. Maybe if I tried this or that it would have been different? Or I need to learn this or that? Or I need to consult with a colleague? And sometimes little light bulbs go off in my head and I have an aha moment and I learn from my shortcomings and mistakes and going forward am able to help others struggling with the same kind of harvest.
But once in a while I remain in a quandary scratching my head. That keeps me humble. I try to plant seeds of curiosity to keep my soul from fossilizing. These two principles work the same for me, too.
Dr. Wall first wrote about the second principle in the following blog back in March, 2009:
Dr. Wall comments on how small changes can bring big results in:
To date Dr. Wall has only written about one couple’s story (with their permission). He summarized a session where a couple had BOTH decided to sow seeds of kindness and sacrifice and their near death marriage was revived. Read this encouraging story here: