I just listened to a podcast by Christian therapist Adam Young on finding your kingdom. It was vastly encouraging and inspiring. I’ve been recommending it to all who will listen. The link is here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/34-your-kingdom-the-purpose-of-counseling/id1373926216?i=1000429621913
Young begins by citing Luke 12:32. Jesus says to his disciples, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Young explains that Jesus’s kingdom is His sphere of influence, namely, the entire universe. Your kingdom is that subsection of the universe where you are called to influence and redeem the world. He cites three clues to find your kingdom:
Regarding “What do I hate?”, Young notes that he hates cancer – who doesn’t? But his wife hates cancer. So she is an oncology PA, devoting time, study, and passion to fighting it. Young – himself traumatized by sexual abuse as a child – hates how trauma hurts and binds up people. This fuels his practice as a trauma therapist.
Moving on to “What do I love?” as a clue to your kingdom, Young talks about Miles Davis, the renowned jazz trumpeter. Davis gave the performance of his life playing a piece called “Love Supreme”. When he’d finished, those in the front row of the concert heard him say, “Nunc dimittis.” It is the Latin for, “Now You may dismiss [Your servant]”. Davis was quoting Luke 2:29, when the prophet Simeon, having awaited the Messiah for a lifetime, finally held the infant Jesus in his arms. It means, “This is what I was born for. I can die happy now. I have been able to sing my heart’s song.”
Young’s own nunc dimittis occurs when he’s had a particularly fruitful session, an experience I can relate to. It includes a tremendous sense of grace and privilege. “Thank You, Lord, for blessing me with exactly what this person/situation needs. Thank You that my firing on all cylinders can be a vehicle of healing for another.”
“Where has the Evil One most attacked me?” The Kingdom of Darkness attempts “to steal, slaughter, and destroy” (Jn 10:10) you precisely where God made you to give him glory and find fullness of life: your kingdom. But by God’s grace, our crosses can become our crown. The stories that move us the most are often about how people triumph in the very area of their deepest wounds and difficulties.
For example, Corrie ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place, survived concentration camp for sheltering Jews in Nazi-occupied Holland. She became a catalyst for reconciliation between the Dutch Nazi collaborators who’d betrayed her family to their deaths and the Dutch resistors whose families had suffered as Corrie had. My friend Jim’s brother struggled through school. That led him to become a high school principal who could connect with the worst students, not just the star pupils. Some early experiences of not fitting in and being bullied have particularly enabled me to recognize and include the excluded and overlooked. In a sense, my homelessness enabled my hospitality.
Young concludes that finding your kingdom is the ultimate goal of counseling. Certainly, healing is good. Freedom is good. But healing and freedom for their own sake lead nowhere. Counseling fulfills its end when it heals the wounds, unbinds the chains, and clears away the debris that prevent us from finding our kingdom.
When we do find our kingdom, we experience the fullness of life that Jesus promises us. Who we are and what we do become seamless. We weigh our commitments and apportion our energies in service to the kingdom. If it serves our kingdom, we go for it. If not, why bother? Young acknowledges that there are many, of course, who struggle for physical survival or under severe oppression. They do not have the same freedom to choose as many of us in the First World. But, he argues, if we do have that freedom, why not use it?
I would add that for some of us, our kingdom is to fight for others to enjoy the freedom to find their kingdom. So many of the saints – Francis of Assisi, Peter Claver, Damien of Molokai, John Bosco, Teresa of Calcutta – did so through fostering human dignity. Others – Philip Neri, Francis de Sales, Therese of Lisieux – did so through demonstrating how holiness of life is for everyone, lay and clerical. “For freedom Christ set us free” (Gal 5:1). May the Lord grant you the freedom to find your kingdom, and the freedom to help others find theirs.