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One Dollar Fix
By Julian Melgosa

Photo: Julian Melgosa
Arnel was seventeen, courteous, handsome, and pleasant to talk with; but he had an anger problem. It had become obvious on several occasions. Arnel’s mother was very concerned about her son’s behavior and made an appointment to talk about counseling. I suggested seeing each family member individually and then seeing everyone together, as this is the normal protocol in family counseling. In fact, the event that led his mother to come to me was that Arnel, in an outburst of temper, had kicked furniture and broken his mother’s reading glasses. This was a horrible insult and a total lack of respect in the Filipino culture.   

Over the course of several counseling sessions I discovered much of the internal family dynamics. Arnel’s twin sister was a source of irritation to him — she excelled in a number of areas and constantly reminded Arnel that she was much better than him. Both parents were placing unreasonable demands on Arnel's academic performance and he had his share of emotional disturbances, including a very low self-esteem. All these did not justify his rage at home and he had to take responsibility for it. 

This Christian family was eager to find a definite solution to Arnel's behavior and agreed to incorporate prayer in the process. As we reviewed the treatment plan reflected in a simple contract, each member of the family committed to support the situation in specific ways. They agreed to have more time together and to regularly pray together, specifically for Arnel’s anger and for the Holy Spirit to take over and heal him from his dangerous path. We also prayed for God to give us understanding to know how to best support Arnel. 

Things were going well, but after three weeks or so Arnel had a relapse. He did not use physical force, but screamed in rage at his mother and sister. Arnel was very sorry for what had happened and cried aloud at home and at the counseling session. At some point his mother said: “I think that I know when his outbursts of anger are coming… I just sense it! If I can send him a signal, he may realize in time and allow the Spirit to work in him! What if I say: ‘Fifty pesos’?”  [50 Philippine pesos is equivalent to one U.S. dollar].

For the next few weeks the family reported great success. The fifty-peso clue had been effective for Arnel to identify early signs and prevent the blow out. In fact, it was only used two or three times. After we had reached our goals we terminated the counseling relationship and thanked God for his mercy. A few weeks later I saw the whole family at some distance in a shopping mall. Arnel waved at me and exclaimed in loud voice: “Fifty pesos!” I thought: God provides simple solutions to great problems. 

Julian Melgosa writes from eastern Washington. All rights reserved © 2011 StoryHarvest.org. Click here for content usage information.