Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Secret Relationship Destruction - Understanding the Devastating Effect of Addiction on Marriage

By: Dwight Bain, LMHC

The #AshleyMadisonHack, #JoshDuggar, #JaredSubway and #BillCosby scandals have stunned America the last few days. How could leaders who were so trusted and so well-liked have such dark shocking secrets?
Why would someone who had it all- marriage, family, kids, money, career, fame, health- risk it all for fifteen minutes of physical pleasure? If they wanted another marriage partner they could have just legally divorced and gone on to date other people- right? Wouldn’t there have been an easier way to experience an intimate connection that wouldn’t have created so much scandal and shame for themselves and their families?
            Reputation ruin comes after secret addicts are discovered by a marriage partner- or in the case of these respected leaders- outed by the media. It’s a major new story when these dark secrets are leaked to the press. But that isn’t new. Did you know there was actually an ancient story about a public outing of someone with a secret lifestyle of adultery? Scripture teaches the Master Teacher was confronted by an angry crowd of leaders, (think CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX), who had caught a woman in the very act of adultery. They were judging her – they were humiliating her and they wanted to destroy her and the Master Teacher as well. Jesus simply said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Here is a trusted leader who understood there are two sides to complex situations. The public opinion side and then the spiritual transformation side and he always took people to the side which involved facing the issue and then having a very honest conversation. This approach changed everything then and it still does today.
            Reputation repair comes before the scandal- it comes when a man or a woman have the courage to face the secret addiction in their life and voice it to another. Maybe in a 12 step group meeting, or to a priest or pastor- perhaps to a trusted friend or family member, and for some it involves talking openly with their therapist. The gutsiest people are the ones who directly talk with their partner about the secrets- to straight up face the music with the one who they broke most trust before they get caught. Who expose their weaknesses openly which then allows others to help. This is rare – but when it happens you know someone is on the right road headed toward freedom from their secretive past.
            Secret addictions are broken when someone reaches the critical mass of saying to themselves- “I can no longer live this way- these secrets are eating me alive.” Maybe that is how you feel, or maybe it’s how someone you care about is feeling. Today could be the time for reputation repair by looking into the mirror and facing the secrets in the light of day. Secret addictions are in dark, and usually involves sneaking around. Open confession with a therapist or trusted family member is a way to bring secrets out into the light of day to do something bold about it – to create real change.

            Your reputation is in your hands. Will you wait for the hackers to reveal your secrets on Facebook or will you take control of your future by outing yourself with the people who matter most?  Secrets keep you in an addictive cycle that leads to dysfunction. Talking to someone is a way out of the darkness to a better place. This could be your time to shatter the addictive cycle to really experience freedom.  Please pass this on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Consider This Before and After Checking the Hacked Ashley Madison List

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

The release of names and emails hacked from the on-line cheater’s website Ashley Madison stirs up questions of fidelity even in the best of relationships. This is especially true in light of some high profile confessions. The website’s promise of anonymity has been comprised and what was done in secret is now being revealed. But before checking a partner’s email address on the hacked list, consider these things.

1.       Everyone is capable of making a mistake but not everyone does. No one is perfect. Having expectations of flawless living will only lead to disappointment. Committed healthy relationships demonstrate a willingness to admit errors, change behaviors, accept adjusted boundaries, and forgive. This is something both partners need to do.
2.       This above all: to thine own self be true.” (Polonius gives excellent advice to his son in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.) Before checking any list, take a moment to self-evaluate. Ask: “Have I ever thought of cheating on my partner?” “Have I ever acted impulsively or inappropriately with someone else?” “If my partner knew everything, would they see it as cheating?” This is the time to be honest before making accusations about anyone else.
3.       “Begin with the end in mind.” (This is habit 2 from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey) What is the goal? Is it to see if a partner is trustworthy? Faith is a belief without proof. Trust is earned over time and should not be given without some verification. Faith and trust are not the same. However, trust is not built by obsessively checking for lies or constantly believing the worst about someone. Rather, trusting someone is a decision which should be evaluated from time to time.
4.       When trust is betrayed, the only person who looks bad is the person doing the betraying. This is essential in maintaining proper perspective. Deception is reflected on the deceiver not the victim. However, there is an Italian Proverb, “He that deceives me once, it’s his fault; but twice it is my fault.” Allowing someone to continually deceive without consequence demonstrates a lack of self-respect and appropriate boundaries. 

After reviewing the above, go ahead and check the list. There are several websites that allow a person to input an email address. Be willing to be honest about doing it. Demanding openness without reciprocating is unfair.  If the name is on the list, consider these points.

1.       Don’t jump to the worst possible conclusion. This is information only, not evidence. This piece needs to be evaluated in light of the whole big picture. Are there other signs of a cheating partner? Has something similar happened before? Take a step back and look at everything from an outsider’s point of view before any confrontation begins.
2.       Have a plan. Make a list of what is known and what is still a question. Knowing what needs to be asked beforehand will keep the conversation focused. Avoid asking obvious questions designed to entrap a person. Rehearse possible answers and reactions ahead of time to prevent emotions from taking over and clouding judgment.
3.       Confront in a neutral environment. For instance, a partner’s office can be a place of confidence and give them an upper hand. Find a location and time that is dispassionate, intentional and safe. Don’t back down on asking questions, this is a time to be strong and courageous.
4.       Listen to everything. Body language is amazingly revealing especially when a person is comfortable. It is not just the words said; it is the words not said that are equally important. Pay attention to repeated vocabulary, touching around the neck, or any mannerism that is inconsistent with past behavior.
5.       Get some help. This is a good time to seek out advice from a counselor, trusted friend or mentor. Avoid speaking with family as they tend to side with their own no matter what. A partner who demands additional secrecy is a red flag.

Remember a healthy relationship requires growth on both parts. This is not one sided, no matter what has actually occurred. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Do You Work With a Psychopath?

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

There really isn’t any job a psychopath wouldn’t do so long as it benefits them in some way. Psychopaths can be business owners, surgeons, lawyers, data entry clerks, waste managers, salesmen, politicians, waiters, and even therapists. They don’t have to be serial killers or mob bosses to be a psychopath.
The term psychopath is over used in our culture and has come to mean something that it doesn’t. Episodes of Criminal Minds highlight the extreme violent behaviors of the disorder. However, many psychopaths do not commit heinous crimes. Some are involved only in white collar crimes while others don’t do any obvious criminal behavior.
What is a psychopath? The term is encompassed under the definition of Anti-Social Personality Disorder along with sociopath. However, psychopath and sociopath are not interchangeable terms. Think of them as two separate parts of a whole personality disorder. A psychopath has the ability to create an entire persona in direct contrast to who they really are. It is as if they are an entirely different person without the dissociative or multiple personality elements.
In a work environment, they can appear to be very responsible, charismatic, friendly, too good to be true, and a hard worker. Their resume which has been custom designed to match the job description will leave employers feeling like they are getting the better end of the bargain. They can talk whatever talk is needed to get the job, to excel at the job, and to get promoted. However, there is a darker side.
Psychopaths will appear to work within a team environment but really they don’t. The work generated is frequently at the expense of someone else and not a product of their own efforts. Back-stabbing, gossip, and manipulation are frequent tactics utilized to undermine authority, gain dominance, and eliminate competition. Rules are for fools to follow, not psychopaths. There is no social, corporate, or legal restriction that will keep psychopaths in line. Because they have no conscious, they are only bond by what they choose.
The goal for a psychopath is to gain as much power and control as possible with the least amount of effort. To a superior, a psychopath presents the better side in order to gain trust and confidence. Their magnetic personality is appealing to upper management as they easily fit into any environment. As a quick study of personalities, the psychopath is able to transform their appearance and body language into something that is appealing in as little as 30 seconds.
But to co-workers, the psychopath presents the darker side frequently stealing new ideas, destabilizing the team atmosphere, and refusing to complete assignments. Often, co-workers pick up the slack in an effort to maintain the collaborative work environment which psychopaths are all too willing to allow them to do. However, if a co-worker complains about the arrangement, the psychopath will attack with such force as to cause the co-worker to get fired. This enlists fear in the other co-workers who are then more willing to comply with the psychopath’s demands.

Diagnosing a psychopath should be left to a professional but even professionals sometimes do not see the deception. It requires an ability to assess the person in multiple environments before some of the fraud can be seen. Even then, it may be hard to tell. The best advice is to avoid anyone who fits this description. Better to be safe, then sorry. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Whirlwind of Social Media

The Lie of Facebook
By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

I don’t know about you, but if I see one more “cute” cat video on Facebook, I’m going to scream. How is it that my friends have time to find and then post silly videos? Are their lives so ‘purrfect’ (pun intended) that they have the luxury to do this? Or… is it a façade? Facebook allows a person to literally paint and alter their image without any consequences for false identity or misrepresentation. Think of it as a giant modern art canvas where realistic images are absent and abstract images are present. There is plenty of room for interpretation. My frustration over the videos is more about my interpretation of their time in comparison to mine, rather than an accurate reflection of my friend’s life.

Don’t waste energy on interpretative art. Instead, let it be what it is. 

Facebook: America’s Addiction
By: Cara Griffin-Locker

If you are like most people you probably have a Facebook account. You posts pictures, follow friends and family and maybe check into a place from time to time to get the occasional discount.  For some, this social media outlet is a way to stay connected but for others it is a socially populated outlet in which depression is generated.  It can create, envy, jealousy, hatred and at times an extramarital affair. Facebook, to many, is a new addiction. 
            Here are four of the most common ways in which Facebook can create depression in those who obsess over the materialistic things and unrealistic happiness that people can display.
1.     Isolation: Depression by itself is an isolating disease. Combine that with staring alone at a screen, reading about other people's lives, hoping and waiting for someone to comment on or like something you wrote and you have a recipe for disaster. This often creates even more isolation because of the obsession that results.
2.     Comparison: The art of looking at Facebook repeatedly can lead to the inevitable comparing game. So-and-so has this and I do not, or so-and-so is doing this and I am not.  This type of comparison makes us feel like we are missing out, inadequate or a loser. It creates a sense of worthlessness in our own being that can ultimately lead to depression.
3.     Fantasy/reality: Seldom do people post negative things on Facebook. In reality is their life perfect and all roses and butterflies? Of course not.  It is all about perception and what they want the world to believe. Their life is not perfect. No one’s life is.
4.     The Numbers Game: Like all social media platforms, Facebook is a numbers game that consists of how many friends you have and how many people comment on your posts or pictures.  These types of expectations can easily lead to depression.
Think about this the next time you scroll through Facebook - do you spend numerous times a day looking at other people’s pages and what they are doing? Do you obsess over what others have? If so, it may be time to cancel or at least take a break from Facebook and get back in touch with reality.

Life Through the Lens and the Keyhole
By: Matthew W. Sandford, LMHC

We all have a tendency, and some more than others, to view other peoples lives through our “lens” and assess their relative success, happiness and level of fulfillment. We all have longings inside of us and these longings play a large role in making up the “lens” through which we interpret the world. Often, the more dissatisfied we are with our lives, or the farther we are from being able to realize our longings, the more we are influenced by what we interpret about others.
But here’s the thing; we never have an objective view of the inside world of others, we only have a view that is akin to peering through a keyhole. Let’s say you hear of a party that you were not invited to and in your jealousy, you go the location and peer through the keyhole. From what you can see through the keyhole, it seems that everyone is having a wonderful time, moving around, chatting, happy, even dancing. Your heart sinks. Suddenly the door flings open as someone exits, and a clear and full view is exposed to you.  You see that the event was for disabled persons; a wheelchair here, crutches and braces there.  No one was moving around so freely as you had perceived.

 We really only have a keyhole view of anyone’s real life. That is, unless you are a counselor….

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Addicted Narcissist

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

One of the hardest types of people to deal with is a narcissist in the middle their addiction. They are completely exhausting. The combined selfishness of narcissism and addictive behavior is overpowering, relentless, callous, and frequently abusive. This destructive blend of arrogant thinking in that they are always right and that they do not have a problem leads to devastating consequences.
There are many parts to the addicted narcissist and their road to recovery. The point of this article is to recognize the injurious behavior so more reasonable expectations can be established during the process and for the family.

Origins. In both addicts and narcissists, shame is the common denominator. Stage two of Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Development which occurs between 18 months and three years old has shame as the negative outcome. Not all narcissists or addicts have trauma during these years, but it can be a good place to begin. Because there is a strong concurrence, about 50% of narcissists are addicts of some sort. Some studies suggest that fetal alcohol syndrome in a child is a sign of a female narcissist.

Enablers. There are frequently two enablers. One bolsters the ego of the narcissist and one unknowingly encourages the addiction. The narcissistic enabler minimizes all signs of addiction and fosters feelings of superiority over others. The addiction enabler is likewise blind to symptoms of addiction therefore justifying financially supporting it. Both are needed to maintain the self-image of the narcissist.
Sometimes, the victim of narcissistic abuse is the sole enabler. This person naively empowers both behaviors to continue. They have been told that the addiction is in their minds and they are the one to blame for it continuing. Saying like these are common. “No one else sees what you are seeing, you are the crazy one.” “If only you would do…, then I won’t have to…”

The Cycle. The addiction cycle is comingled with the narcissistic abuse cycle. It begins when the narcissist feels threatened. They become angry and take out their frustration on a victim. Sensing resistance from the victim, they retreat to their addiction. The drug of choice reinforces their idealistic fantasies, perception of omnipotence, and extravagant schemes. However, this results in the enablers retreating from the narcissist. Now confused, the narcissistic ego feels threatened and the cycle repeats.

Step One. The most difficult step is to get a narcissist to admit to their addiction. This is the first mandatory step of all addictive recovery which is particularly problematic for a person who believes they are above others. Not only are they reluctant to admit there is a problem, but they refuse to allow someone inferior to point it out. This is why confronting a narcissist about their addiction usually results in substantial rage.

Rehab. The only rehab a narcissist willingly attends is an elite facility.  Even there, they expect special treatment and believe the rules are for others. During group counseling sessions, they are bored and view it as trivial. Sometimes they become intolerant and even abusive towards staff members. Instead of taking the time to heal, they look for loop holes in the system, complain about inefficiencies, become single-minded about insurance/costs, and blame others for having to be at rehab.

Recovery. A narcissist is unwilling to wait the prescribed time period to see if the recovery is effective. Instead, they expect immediate results and others to comply fully with their miraculous healing in a very short time period. Unfortunately, because the narcissist has grandiose beliefs about self, they rarely learn during treatment thus making their prognosis poor.

Relapse. It is not impossible for a narcissist to recover from an addiction. In fact, when they see it as damaging to their image, they are able to eliminate the addiction almost instantly and without emotional consequences. However, they do return to the addictive behavior later as a way to demonstrate they ultimately have power and control over the drug of choice.

Just because the narcissist feeds off illusions of grandeur, doesn’t mean the family support system needs to strengthen that belief. A family can be supportive while having reasonable expectations for the narcissist’s prognosis. It is far more loving to accept someone within their own limitations than to insist they become someone they are not.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I've Got a Secret; Sex isn't What the Media Says It Is

By Matt W. Sandford, LMHC

How many of you have bought into it; that is, what the media represents sex to be? You know, they portray sex to be a wildly exciting and fun activity that you can do with anyone and that the more you do it the more exciting and fun it is. And, after that opening sentence, if you now expect that I am about to lecture you about the evils of sex, then I’ve got you right where I want you! Because remember – I’ve got a secret. And that secret is not that sex is evil or that everyone who is enjoying it needs to Stop Right Now!
Sex isn’t bad or sinful. The problem isn’t that the media and the culture have made sex so prominent. The problem is that the media and the culture don’t know what sex is about and so they misrepresent its essence. And when you don’t understand the essence of a thing, like say using a fire hydrant to take a shower, then you undermine its value and you lose out on the blessing. You see, what I am saying is not that the culture loves sex too much; it loves sex too little. And when you don’t really understand and love something, then you take it for granted and use it in disparaging ways.
Unfortunately, most of those reading this are folks who have been highly influenced by this very culture. And so I recognize that it will be quite difficult to convince you that sex can be more than what you now think and what you now generally experience. But some secrets aren’t meant to be kept.
 I want to help you get back a sense of the essence of sex. Ready?
To begin, we’ll never get down to the essence of sex from simply our own human point of view. From our point of view, sex is pleasurable (for most men and a good number of women at least, generally so), sex is the method of procreation and, well, that’s about it, without getting into moral conceptions concerning the boundaries of sex. But those are not defining the essence or purpose of sex. But the only one who can enlighten us about the purpose and design of something would be the designer. In this case, that would be God.
Oddly, even thought the culture or segments of it, want to represent Christianity and the Bible as being anti-sex, you only have to go a couple chapters in to get your first presentation of sex, starting with Adam and Eve. From the story line you get the notion that they were both naked around each other. And God doesn’t give them skins to cover themselves until after they feel ashamed of their nakedness. Also, take note that the first sin is not related to sex, but about disobeying God, which was also not about sex. It also talks about them walking with God in the garden. By the way, can you imagine taking a leisurely walk with God, while you are naked?
So, God presents the first woman to the first man. And they are designed just as we are (or that is, us like them). And so they had hormones and sexual desire and all that. Yes, they are told to procreate. And that is an element of the essence of sex. It is a process that is meant to result in the blessing of children. This is not a small element either. It is significant. It is the vehicle by which human men and women bond and build a family. By the way, what I just said is really different than producing a child, isn’t it? There are lots of people having sex that results in children, but that does not result in the building of a family. That’s the first way in which we miss out on the essence of sex. Sex that does not bond and build a family is falling short of its essence and is less valuable and less satisfying than it could be. But I’m going to piece that together with what follows, so hang with me.
As much as sex was designed with this process of family making, in terms of procreation, that is not all sex was designed for, as maybe it was viewed in the Victorian Era. God designed sex to be very sensuously exciting and pleasing. But again, if culture then takes that and determines that self gratification is the purpose and design of sex, it will mislead the people and undermine something designed for more. It’s kind of like taking a gold bar and using it as a cutting board. Yeah, you can use it that way, but you aren’t getting out of it what you could.
Let me just point out that for all the prestige that sex gets in the media and in our minds nowadays, that there really are more problems and issues with sex than are represented. If you believed movies and TV, everyone is just having the time of their lives. But, oh my, is reality something that is grossly under-acknowledged. Statistics say 43% of women and 31% of men are suffering from some kind of sexual dysfunction, as reported on WebMD and other sites. But of course these numbers are likely to be low because they are based on people’s reports, meaning only those willing to report it. A Fox news article from last year offered that the number may be closer to 60% (it wasn’t clear if it was referring to one gender or both). My point is that, for all the glamorization of sex in our culture, the reality in a high percentage of people’s lives is a far different story.
And, issues with sexual dysfunction doesn’t even come close to the full impact once you include the relational and emotional elements of sex. Movies and TV represent some aspects of these, in terms of stories of rejection, manipulation, break ups, mocking, cheating on someone, rape, and such, but these often turn out “nice” in the end, because, well, it’s a movie. However, the disastrous effects of the ways that people hurt others with sex are so ubiquitous that likely everyone reading has suffered from it directly or at least has learned of it from someone you know. 
The bedroom seems more to be a breaker than a builder of families in our current times.  But it doesn’t have to continue to be so. When you understand the essence of sex, you can experience the blessing that God designed.
First of all, God said engaging in sex is designed for a special kind of relationship. This relationship is unique among human relationships. It is not a friendship, nor is it a working relationship or a contract agreement. It is the way that humans will build families with people that are not their family, the making of a new family. This concept was a big deal to God, because it represents to humans that he wants to make a new family from folks that are not a family as well: the family of God. You see, we are born biologically into an earthly family, but we are “born again” into God’s family through Christ. And this is why the Bible talks about Jesus being married to the church, in I Corinthians 5:31-32. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”  So, God is in the business of bonding people together in love and in making families. And it is called marriage.
You see, when someone puts their trust in Jesus they come into the family of God. And we are united with Christ as he gives us the Holy Spirit to live in us. “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” I Corinthians 6:17. The amazing reality is that there is something similar that happens between human men and women when they have intercourse with each other. That is why the former passage in I Corinthians refers to a “profound mystery” about marriage; that sexual union is not just a biological act, but also a spiritual one. That is the essence of sex!
Maybe that seems all heady and academic and theoretical to you. I get that. So, let me help to make it practical. First, how do these concepts lead to better sex? I believe that when you understand better the essence of sex you will approach it differently. You will reevaluate the messages from the culture that say, get it anywhere, get it as much as you can, focus on your own satisfaction. You’ll be able to be discerning, and you’ll reject those messages. You will see that that is not how you will find fulfillment or build anything of value with someone else. And you will then consider how God’s spirit lives in you and that God loves to give and bless. And so you’ll come to embrace that you are meant to give of yourself and bless someone else. And you will connect those dots and see that just as sex represents our union with God, that you can make sex about blessing someone else through your bond with them. You’ll be less preoccupied or worried about your own pleasure or performance, and you’ll seek to express your care to this other person. And along with that, guys especially, will find themselves coming to understand their wives better and will see that sex is in many respects the expression of a healthy and whole relationship and so they will work at listening better and being sensitive and patient in the rest of their relationship. And women in particular will come to understand their husbands better, and so they will seek to be more supportive and work to be more understanding of their husband’s insecurities and work through the areas they are judgmental about. In these ways, couples will communicate with more honesty, including their issues and needs concerning sex.
The second way that I can make this practical is to address the whole sex outside of marriage issue. It’s clear, isn’t it, that God designed sex for marriage. But I hope you can see now that God isn’t keeping sex from you because he is a prude. That’s not it at all! Rather, the issue is that God wants you to have sex, but in the way that he designed it. And if you don’t, he knows that it won’t go well for you and for others. God actually wants your best! I realize that putting that out there opens up a whole series of challenges for the single or divorced person. And I’m not insensitive to those. But that will have to be addressed at another time.
The secret is out! I feel relieved. You know, it’s hard to hold secrets in.
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Matt Sandford is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and has been counseling for 8 years. Previously he worked in student ministry for 14 years, including two years in China. He has been married for 21 years and he and his wife are raising twins. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Five Healing Steps to Take After Your Pastor Falls

By Christine Hammond, LMHC

The news is out. Your Pastor did something completely out of character. Perhaps they had a physical or emotional affair, stole money or misappropriated funds, secretly abused a family member, or hid an addiction. Whatever it was, it has devastated the church, shocked the community and perhaps destroyed their family.

Understandably, you will experience conflicting emotions and racing thoughts as you process what has happened. This is a normal response as you begin to grieve over the loss of your Pastor. Here are some of the possible reactions that might occur.

“My Pastor couldn’t have done that.” Usually the first initial response is to disbelieve that your Pastor could have done anything like this. After all, who wants to believe that any Pastor is capable of such a thing? Nothing makes sense. The person you know and trust doesn’t match with the accusations. So, you refuse to acknowledge the evidence. This is why denial is a powerful defense mechanism because it allows you to disregard information that is contrary to your belief system.

“How could my Pastor betray us like this?” Once the realization of the truth has settled any remaining doubt, you become angry. There is outrage that a Pastor could do such a thing, irritation that others did not foresee it, frustration that you trusted, and infuriation that God seemed absent. It is not uncommon to experience feelings of wrathful vengeance. While some anger is normal, don’t allow it to take over and control your behavior. If it does, you could act in an equally inappropriate manner as the Pastor.

“If only I said something sooner, this wouldn’t have happened.” When the anger simmers down, the “If only…” game begins. In a desperate desire to control the outcome, you begin searching for ways the problem could have been prevented. You relive the past hunting for warning signs that could have signaled the trouble. But all the deals you make for the future cannot change the current situation. Your bargaining is in vain.

“What’s the point of going to church?” The frustration that there is nothing you could have done to change the outcome quickly leads to sadness. The once joyful church becomes gloomy as members disappear. Hopelessness begins to settles in as you become more aware of the vulnerability of believers. Positive outlooks are replaced with melancholy as the whole thing seems like an illusion. The entire church including the individual members suffer through depression.

“I guess the verse, ‘All have sinned,’ really means all.” Ironically, it is only through a storm like this that the full meaning of the Gospel becomes transparent. If sin did not exist, then Jesus would not have needed to die and no one would need forgiveness and mercy. It is the fullness of the Scriptures that transforms lives, not just the bits and pieces that are more palatable. True acceptance acknowledges the susceptibility of all church members to sinful behavior, including yourself and Pastors, and supplies ample grace.
Most importantly, be gracious to yourself. These steps take time to process and healing should not be rushed. Each needs to go at their own pace; this is not a time to compare journeys. Rather it is a time to show love for one another through patience and kindness.

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you need more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 or send me a quick email at