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Five Healing Steps to Take After Your Pastor Falls

fallen crossThe 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 growwithchristine@gmail.com.

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Conquer Moving and Eliminate The Excess Baggage of Life

There is nothing quite like moving to remind you just how much stuff you have in the hidden corners of your home.  Things seem to procreate over time and that one small pile of papers to review on your desk now has another pile on the dining room table and yet another in the kitchen.   The task of sorting, organizing and purging can be overwhelming and might even provoke a disagreement or two with your spouse.

While moving is frustrating and is listed amongst the top life stressors, it can also be a time of purging your life from all of the excess stuff that has gathered.  The benefit of purging is a feeling of freedom from the responsibility to care for the stuff.  Oddly enough, our lives can become just as cluttered with excess activities, friendships, responsibilities or commitments and it too can use a good cleansing every now and then.  However, you must have a plan to attack either the stuff or the excess in your life.

Essential items.  The first items to identify in your move or your life are the essentials.  These are the things you need daily and cannot live without.  In a move it may be your toiletries, a favorite pot, a book you are reading or your computer.  In life it may be a hug from your kids, having quiet time, exercise or a favorite hobby.  Whatever it is put these items aside knowing that they are the most essential items you have.

Keepsake items.  Next comes the items that you love and want to keep but are not essential.  These are the things that you would miss if they were lost, would like to pass on to a family member, or deeply regret not having in the future.  In a move it may be your photo albums, a wedding dress, books, china, or a collection of baseball cards.  In life it may be an annual family reunion, a date with your children or spouse, a convention, or a commitment to work with the homeless.  The trick is keeping your keepsake items to a minimum as not to be adding too much to your plate after the essential items are established.  If you are not sure it is a keepsake, move on.

Throw-away items.  Now you are ready for the throw-away items which should be easier to identify once the essential and keepsake items are already sorted.  These are the items that you can really do without and drain your energy.  In a move it may be old tablecloths that you have not used in a while, old clothes that have not been worn in years, or old newspapers that are collecting dust.  In life it may be a charity that you are no longer passionate about, a hobby that you have lost interest in, or a friend that is more draining than helpful.  Don’t think too hard about these items, if your first instinct is to get rid of it than do it.

Repeat again and again.  Finally you are ready for the last step which is to repeat the first three steps over and over until everything is sorted.  Nothing should be left without a final decision as to which category it belongs.  In a move as in life it is important to analyze the things you are holding onto and examine them to see if your interests have changed.  As you get older, it is natural to have changing interests and your house as your life should reflect the change.

A move is time consuming but it is helpful to sort through all of the stuff that you have accumulated over the years.  Your life likewise accumulates responsibilities and commitments that may no longer reflect your interests.  Taking the time to purge your home and life of the excess items will free you to spend more time with the things that really matter and ultimately decrease your stress.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.