This week the Clinical Pastoral Education didactic presentation was on Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) which posits that people grow through and toward relationships throughout the lifespan, and that culture powerfully impacts relationship. RCT is dedicated to understanding the complexities of human connections as well as exploring the personal and social factors that can lead to chronic disconnection.
One aspect of the theory I connected with was Authenticity: The capacity to bring one’s real experience, feelings, and thoughts into relationship, with sensitivity and awareness to the possible impact of one’s actions on others. It does not give license to total reactivity. Authenticity does not involve telling the “whole truth” but rather sharing the “one true thing” that will move therapy in some positive way. (https://www.jbmti.org/Our-Work/glossary-relational-cultural-therapy)
This is something I have struggled with; how much of my story to tell. This definition focuses what to share for me, “the one true thing” that will move therapy in some positive way.” Or in the case of a pastoral visit, the “one true thing” that will help build a trusting relationship. I am comfortable with this type of sharing. It’s “not all about me,” but some of it is about me. As creatures made in God’s image there are parts of our stories that we recognize in others and that draw us closer to God.
When we are being and giving from our true self we are giving a part of our creator. No wonder we are drawn to these types of sharing; we are drawn to the one gracious and loving God in these experiences. It’s interesting to me that it’s not just the positive, fun and loving stories, but most often the tragic stories that empathetically bring us together; perhaps it’s Jesus’ suffering on the cross that is actually causing us to see God in each other.