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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Give Me My Heart


You give me something
That makes me scared alright
This could be nothing
But I'm willing to give it a try
Please give me something
Because someday I might know my heart

- James Morrison, You Give Me Something

While my time at Mars Hill Graduate School is full of meaningful theological discussions (and professors singing along to 8 1/2 minutes of November Rain), some of the most formative times for me have revolved around therapeutic theories and practice. I would like to share one such conversation with you now.

D i f f e r e n t i a t i o n.

The concept of differentiation is often abstract and is used to discuss "your ability to maintain your sense of self when you are emotionally and/or physically close to others". In other words, it's the discussion of what happens between the two territories of dependence and independence. With that said, being differentiated then means fully knowing who I am, what my boundaries are, what my values are; and still being able to grow closer to the people I love.

Look back at the word again. What do you see in that word? It's the root word that jumps out, right? Different. Differentiation is a discussion about how those in relationship/community/marriage hold on to and live into their differences. It's the way in which we celebrate our God given uniqueness while acknowledging that in conjunction with others beauty is created that cannot be created on our own.

What is interesting in the discussion of differentiation is that men often sacrifice relationship for their sense of self and women often sacrifice their sense of self for relationship. Women, in order to remain in a relationship often abandon their desires, dreams, and values to make relationship work. Men on the other hand will not budge and would rather cut ties than change "who they are".

Differentiation is the interplay between who I am and who I am with others.

Differentiation is a tension. A tension that is often difficult to define and difficult to practice. But yet I believe that differentiation is imperative if we are going to avoid compromising core values and beliefs, work effectively with conflict, argue effectively, and develop loving relationships.

With all of that said…does it make sense? Where have you seen a lack of differentiation in yourself? In others? Are you interested in further differentiation? How do you build differentiation? How can you grow in individuality while growing closer to someone? Where have you seen the gendered differences in differentiation?

We have kinda talked about this before. Read it.

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