There’s a cupcake on the kitchen counter in front of me. A chocolate cupcake with white icing, rolled in tiny multi-colored sprinkles. And inside the cupcake is a gooey center of white crème. It’s the last of these cupcakes that we baked. And it’s calling out to me.
In my grad school counseling classes, we would have labeled my desire for this cupcake as “organismic”. (Check the spelling of that closely, folks. Easy to mistake for another word that will make you giggle and get distracted. . .) That is, it is natural to my organism, my self. My love for the taste of chocolate cake and vanilla crème is not a value that I introjected or absorbed from people around me in order to receive their acceptance and approval. Not like, say, my enjoyment of bluegrass music, or my willingness to take on every volunteer job at church which someone asks me to take.
Nope. I do believe had I grown up on a desert island with no influence from outside humanity, I still would love Ding Dong-type cupcakes. That love comes naturally to me.
Here’s the question: because this desire is natural, because it’s “organismic”, should I indulge it? And here’s where I took issue with my grad school professors, or at least with the theories they were presenting me. We were taught in my counseling program that a primary goal of counseling is to discover a person’s organismic values and encourage them to act on them – that this is how they will feel genuine contentment in their lives, how they will become the person they were meant to be.
Hmmm. If that’s true, then the person I am meant to be is a fat, diabetic slob.
Now, let me clarify: there is some truth to this introjections business. Human beings have an innate need for love and acceptance, and they do end up doing and believing crazy things in order to get that. A good counselor will recognize evidence of this behavior and help a client see reality objectively. But to stretch this truth into the idea that what’s natural to us is always the way to go . . . well, that will get you into danger in a hurry.
I’m all for knowing thyself. It’s a recurring theme of mine, actually. But we always need to remember that sin comes naturally to us . . . as does self-deception. It is a lie to believe we can always trust our feelings, our heart, our “organismic self”. We can only really trust our Maker.