After I completed my graduate counseling classes, I worked as a Psychology Intern for a Neuropsychologist who often worked 10-hour days.
For those of you not in the field, let me explain. This is outrageous! Few can manage that sort of face-to-face, emotionally draining work for more than half a day. Hour after hour of meeting with clients, performing assessments, listening and helping them process their problems, doing cognitive rehabilitation, or teaching college students. Simply functioning at that level should earn him superhero status, but he did more than get by, he excelled.
One evening at the end of a long day, I took a seat across from his oak desk like I often did when all was quiet and I could soak up his wisdom. Only this time, he didn’t acknowledge me with a twinkle in his eyes, instead he rubbed his chin offering only his profile. Tears welled in his eyes.
We knew each other well, there were times I felt a member of his family, but I’d never seen him cry. I sat up straight then I waited. For he had been the one to teach me the power of silence.
He met my gaze. “What sort of man am I?”
Brilliant, extraordinary. “You’re a good man.”
“Am I? When all of me is scraped away, and I’m left with only what I know best, it will be neuroanatomy. I’ll recite disorders not Psalms.”
This had to be about the retired preacher he’d seen at the hospital earlier. All he’d relayed in our brief encounter between clients was that the preacher was near death and had dementia, but clearly the visit had shaken him.
And death didn’t affect my boss. Not like this. When a Psychologist in our office had passed from cancer, a smile had warmed my mentor’s face. “His struggle is finally over, Robyn. He gets to be with God.”
I had wanted to connect with someone who would also miss the man or maybe lament death, instead he seemed to envy the deceased.
This dementia case was different. “He quoted Bible verses?”
“The verses were so ingrained, they’d become part of him. It’s all that’s left. That’s who I want to be to be so full of the Spirit and His word that I don’t get in the way anymore.”
That’s what I wanted, too. I’d met with a client that day who had very little cognitive functioning left after an accident, but she had more joy in Jesus than I could imagine.
And I finally grasp what he had meant all along about the pain of separation. There are moments in life, when you glimpse Holiness and know you want it. Need it so bad, but you feel the divide of sin and shame so keenly that your soul cries out. We were never meant to be separated from God’s goodness. We were never meant to work so hard to be filled with His love. But too often, our brain gets in the way when it’s our faith we need to let soar.
It’s ironic after all that dear man taught me, the instruction that left the deepest impression was the one he felt the least equipped to give. The simple advice to focus on what will last—to study the Bible and let the transforming power of Jesus infiltrate my soul. That wisdom is what I pass on to you today. It takes daily commitment and more time in study than I realized back then, but it’s the most worthwhile investment you can make.
More of You by Colton Dixon