I greatly enjoyed our recent family trip to the aquarium. I've been there before but since we only go every two years or so I always find the exhibits to be extremely fascinating. As a "land dweller" and one who does not snorkel or scuba dive, it is easy for me to be generally unaware of what lies "under the surface" in the vast world we know as the ocean. Yet that is where so much of the life on our planet exists; generally unseen and in many ways ignored.
The human mind heart are a lot like this. We are all very aware of the thoughts that dwell (sometimes plague) our consciousness. Our behaviors can be seen by all; our words can be heard, our thoughts constantly clamor for our attention. But we all know that there is much more to "us" than what is seen or heard or even the thoughts of which we are aware. So much of who we are, in reality, lies below the surface....
The writer of Proverbs says it like this (20:5), "The purposes of the human heart are deep waters, but those who have insight draw them out." The unconscious portion of our mind is indeed a deep ocean. Experiences, memories (long forgotten), and trauma's all reside there. Some of these memories and experiences are (like the underworld of the sea) wonderful and beautiful. Others are frightening and dangerous.
So the question becomes: How much time should we spend snooping around the Unknown portions of our soul? The Freudian answer is, "a lot." For "depth" psychologists, that is where the action is. But as a Solution Focused Brief Therapist I would say, not much. I think it can become something like a journey into a dark cave. The deeper we go the more "caverns" and "side tunnels" we find. The journey seems to never end. Occasionally there is a "glimmer of light." But for the most part we find ourselves on a dark journey. Now if God, during our time of Bible reading and prayer, wants to reveal something about the Unknown portion of our soul, I certainly want to listen and pay attention. But other than that; I think examining the Unknown portions of our soul should be sort of like a trip to the aquarium; it's nice to take a look, from time to time, but I don't really want to dwell or focus on it.
Sunshine, air, wind, these are the elements that most make me feel at home. Though I enjoy the aquarium, I wouldn't want to live there. Analyzing our past and exploring the "depths" of our sub-conscience can be an interesting (even, at time entertaining) journey, but usually it is more trauma provoking than helpful. The prophet Isaiah said it like this, "Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Isa 2:5). For me I find that light and insight are usually found "above" not "under the surface."
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.