But Can They Really?

I am overwhelmed and excited by the response to the live stream event I took part in with my friend Leslie Vernick entitled, Can Destructive People Change. If you were unable to attend, the replay is still available here. http://new.livestream.com/portableproduction/AbuseSeminar

If I could simplify one of the most common responses I’ve received from that event it would go something like this. “I know what you’ve said, but can destructive people really change?” I want to honestly offer a few answers to this question by changing the words slightly.

Can They Change?

Simple Answer – Of course they can.

I have heard the sentiment many times that people cannot change. The understanding is that thieves are always thieves, liars are always liars, and abusers will always be abusive. I believe the Bible teaches that change is not only possible but necessary. God desires the unbelieving to practice repentance and experience transformation. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) He desires the believer to practice repentance as well, calling us to put off the old man and to “Put on your new nature, created to be like God–truly righteous and holy.” (Ephesians 4:24)

Honest Answer – Anyone can change but the potential for change does not guarantee that it will happen.

Do They Change?

Simple Answer – Yes…Well, kind of…It depends.

I’ve been doing this work for some time now and I have seen many men make changes. Sometimes those changes are radical, and transformative. It’s exhilarating to watch men make such dramatic shifts in thinking and behavior. I’ve also seen men make some necessary behavioral changes to avoid consequences or pain. This may make things safer in the short term but lacks the power that the gospel promises. Lastly, I’ve seen men attempt to manipulate everyone with superficial changes designed to deceive others into leaving them be.

Honest Answer – They do when they choose to, but motives are important in understanding the validity of these changes.

Will They Change?

Simple Answer – Do you have someone in mind?

As I read this question again I have the tendency to hear this, “will the person I love change?”  The honest answer is I don’t know. Unfortunately the individual most desperate for change is often the one who is being victimized. The last thing I want to do is give false hope that your positive attitude or faith that change is possible will lead to your loved one’s transformation. The truth is you are not responsible for their changes but for your own safety, and sanity. While you may desperately want them to get help that is a decision they alone can make.

Honest Answer – I do not know if the person you love will ever change.

Final Thought:

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:13-17

Have you ever heard the saying, the proof is in the pudding? Biblically speaking we know that change has occurred when change occurs. I recently had an interesting discussion with an individual who couldn’t articulate the difference between confession and repentance. Acknowledging one’s sin is a wonderful first step but it is still a first step. When is a liar no longer a liar? When he says, “I know I lie” or when we witness him consistently telling the truth? Change is possible, but change is hard.

-Peace

What do you think?

Is change possible? What are dangers in promoting change for destructive people? What are the dangers in denying change is possible?

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28 Responses to But Can They Really?

  1. Sunflower says:

    When our daughter was 16 we were home-educating her. She was balking and stalling and I was pushing and begging. One day I wrote out all that I was expecting her to do to graduate. I gave her the paper and said, “You know, I love having you around, yet I know you want to get out and live your own life. As soon as this list is finished, you can graduate and do whatever you like. Until then you stay home. I don’t really care if you live here until you’re 30, or if you leave next year, it’s your call.” She was done in a few months without anymore prodding. I’m saying this because I think we get the other person used to us taking the responsibility for them and also giving them lots of attention. The best way to get small children to stop pitching fits is to ignore them, “I will not talk to you until you can speak respectfully”, then lock yourself in the bathroom until they are quiet or something. People who are destructive need to often loose everything, especially everyone’s attention. In my case, with my H, so far it’s been behaviour modification. He says he is kinder because he doesn’t like the consequences, but it’s better than nothing. We all need to get to the end of self, but only God can really get us there. If I left, he may get there, or he may take up with another and another woman, who knows? I pray that God does what He knows best. Just one side of the question, for what it’s worth.

    • BeginHealing says:

      “People who are destructive need to often loose everything, especially everyone’s attention.” I like this statement, not in a resentful he needs to lose everything kind of way but more in a light of he needs an intense wake up call kind of way. My h has been out of the house for a while but I still see so many red flags in his behavior. I am sad because I feel as though our church failed him. So many people rushed in to comfort him and feed into his self pity that in many ways it was as though they enabled him further. His narcissistic need for attention was fed by this. With kind well meaning Christian hearts everyone rushed in and interrupted what God was trying to do because they saw a man in pain. Now after many months of this he is spiritualizing his abuse, one up behavior, and entitlement. He is using my faith to guilt me and to get what he wants. (he wants what he wants….). I am afraid that there are some apples showing through on this banana tree. Actually, if I am being honest I don’t think he bothered to remove the apples before he stapled the banana’s on… 🙂

      Churches, pastor’s, priests, ministers, elders they mean well but the dynamics of emotional abuse and manipulation seem to be handled very poorly by too many of them. Thank you for standing in this Valley and helping to educate them. I am praying that your audience broadens and you find a lot of support along the way.

      • Andrew Reavis says:

        ” in a light of he needs an intense wake up call kind of way.”
        “I feel as though our church failed him. So many people rushed in to comfort him and feed into his self pity that in many ways it was as though they enabled him further. His narcissistic need for attention was fed by this. With kind well meaning Christian hearts everyone rushed in and interrupted what God was trying to do because they saw a man in pain.
        These statements are profound.
        I was physically abusing my wife and it took me losing everything for a time to realize where I was and wake up.
        The problem though, was I was living in the pastor’s basement and like you said, everyone was rushing to comfort a hurting man, feeding my narcissistic needs. The worst part, though, was they further abused my wife and children by blaming and condemning my bride without getting the facts from her.

      • BeginHealing says:

        Yep, I am experiencing a bit of that condemnation myself. I am being seen as hard hearted and unforgiving because I won’t reconcile. No one asks me why. The image of me as hard hearted is one that he subtly reinforces. Being seen as the victim after what he did to me eases his guilt and damaged self image but it also feeds his entitlement. While I still see red flag behaviors and feel decidedly unsafe why would I move forward? When I point out the red flag behaviors and I get deflection and marginalization in return, I am not safe.

        For all of the people from our church that rushed in to dry his crocodile tears I have had to stand alone and start over. I suppose that if that church is where God wanted me to be it would have been a safe place for me to heal. Thankfully, over time He has brought other Godly understanding people into my life. But it is difficult at times not to feel bitter over how the church has treated me.

      • Brenda R says:

        BeginHealing,
        Understandably so. You were hurt by people that you thought you could trust. The wolf walked in and the “sheep” let him in. That is how “sheep” are devoured or found out that they really aren’t sheep. Perhaps, in this way, God is saying there is a better place for you. There is a real place of safety that He is leading you to.

      • This is a reoccurring discussion I have with others in the work. Is behavior enough? Or, is behavior change the highest goal? I guess in some ways a destructive person willing to practice restraint and avoid violence is a win. I’m not completely satisfied with behavior modification, especially if the destructive person shows no shift in beliefs or worldview. Consequences can surely encourage change, and in fact without them there is no incentive to change but time will really tell if change has lasting potential. I think that tends to scare us as pastors as we want quick, marriage focused solutions. Again, to beat the dead horse, most pastors are ignorant of the dynamics of abuse, and they, like anyone, will make mistakes. -Peace

  2. Brenda R says:

    I think anyone can change with Christ in their life. Will they want to? Maybe, maybe not. X always said he wasn’t changing for nobody as some object was sailing through the room. When the consequence was that I finally moved out, his behavior got fat worse and still refused to go to counseling or seek any sort of professional help. After the divorce, he went back and forth, I will do what it takes, no I won’t. It wouldn’t matter anymore if he did or not. I have no trust in this man to actually change for the long term. I would never say that to him. I would be very happy if he did change, but I won’t be there when it happens.

    • Good word here, “I would be very happy if he did change, but I won’t be there when it happens.” I’m glad you’re in a good place. I pray for transformation for all the guys I work with but not at the expense of the partners safety. And, even if the current partner has found safety there may be potential victims around the corner.

      • Heidi says:

        Thank you Chris for your comment. Thank you also Brenda R. I hear you. This week marks 14 years since the worst of the physical, emotional, verbal & spiritual abuse. I too am done. I prayed, cried and begged for change. There never was any real change, only meaningless words and slight change of behavior to avoid consequences. Then, the crazy making of ” I didn’t say that ” and more and more abuse. I love what you said Brenda R. – “I would be very happy if he did change, but I won’t be there when it happens.” Ditto. 14 counselors later, there’s has been no change, only a list of allies he sought and dint gain who told him he had a problem. Then, the church( some of them& new pastor fueled the “poor me” entitlement thinking. “Poor hurting man” and it probably will never get better. I stayed and pretended SO LONG. My children thought it was normal. I truly regret those wasted years, while the church cheered my “pretend” on. No more, I am free. I’ve list a few friends and my adult children don’t understand-yet. I am at peace. Everyday brings more promise and healing. What incredible peace.

      • Brenda R says:

        Heidi,
        I am so glad that you have found peace. I heard the “poor him” remarks from a couple of folks in my church family. When I went to the pastor for help, all he said was, “we have to get him saved”. Abusers can fake that too. My kids were glad that I left. The freedom and peace are remarkable aren’t they? The Lord has been so good to me. He has supplied my every need. He is all the husband that I truly need.
        Rev Chris,
        You are right there is another victim/target right around the corner. The word target seems so right in my case. Yes, I was a victim, but I feel that abusers can smell someone that could be easily victimized a mile away, which makes us targets. They aim for that person, bring on the charm and have them tangled in their web in no time. My stepfather picked a young mother with 2 little girls–targets–he got a young wife who could be controlled and 2 little girls to use for his pleasure, because “he loved use”. He had a 1st family and the kids were taken away from him. The X also had a 1st family. I found and read his divorce papers. He had always told me that she was a drunk and he had to get their son from her. The divorce papers read descriptions of physical violence–him towards her. They had shared custody. There is always a next one with these guys.

  3. healingInHim says:

    Anyone can change with Christ in their life. Even those without Christ can at least be honest about who they really are. It really does come down to an individual’s choice: if they hear the Gospel then repent and carry on … too many churches are enabling false converts to flourish and cause much harm to others with subtle but still destructive ‘bullying’ tactics:-(
    This is a very well written post. These statements jumped out at me, “I’ve also seen men make some necessary behavioral changes to avoid consequences or pain. This may make things safer in the short term but lacks the power that the gospel promises. Lastly, I’ve seen men attempt to manipulate everyone with superficial changes designed to deceive others into leaving them be.”

    We’ve been living as room mates and talk very sparingly. When ever I attempt to discuss an issue he does not like it. His confidence lies in the fact that the adult children favour him and as of this summer really snubbed me. I’m only privileged to have a couple hours of visiting when they are in the area whereas my husband is welcomed into their homes for a week of visiting and helping them with some home maintenance tasks. The one daughter and son-in-law refused to visit me this summer, thus I am being cut off from seeing my 18 month young granddaughter. After years of Christian homeschooling??? they “all” including my husband now profess to not be Christians, thus my husband never questions them even though he doesn’t agree with much of what they do. He says I must learn to get along which means not talking about Christianity or home education, etc which was a major part of my life!
    Change would heal all of these relationships. I must confess to being in shock as for years the children seemed to recognize that ‘he’ was to blame for the marriage breakdown. It was my setting of boundaries that annoyed my daughter to now snub me totally.
    I have repeatedly been told by my husband and children to stop defending myself. Doctors and counselors have confirmed that I have every right to defend myself; that I am also an individual who deserves to be heard. I apologize for the lengthy comment.

    • No problem for the length. I wanted to highlight this statement, “Even those without Christ can at least be honest.” So true, anyone can take responsibility for their actions. of course only Christ can bring about the transformation we know is possible, but it certainly would lighten the load even if they would just say I’m wrong and accept responsibility. When those who harm us change it definitely makes it easier to abandon our bitterness, and hurt but we can still find healing and health even when those who hurt us are resistant or obstinate. That’s one thing I really appreciate about Leslie Vernick’s work. -Peace

      • Brenda R says:

        it certainly would lighten the load even if they would just say I’m wrong and accept responsibility

        The problem with hearing those words, “I’m wrong and accept responsibility”, is that by the next day it had reverted back to, “It is all your fault and I never said that.”

  4. Chris, you said “I’ve been doing this work for some time now and I have seen many men make changes. Sometimes those changes are radical, and transformative. It’s exhilarating to watch men make such dramatic shifts in thinking and behavior. . . . ”

    I would like to ask you: in the cases you think are radical and transformative change, what did you base that opinion of yours on? Did you or some other staff member of your program consult regularly with the abusive man’s parter or ex-partner, to hear her viewpoint of whether the man had changed, and if so, how much he had changed? Did you consult with the partners even after the men had completed the program? And if so, for how long did you follow them up?

    Which leads me to a more general matter. In Australian mens’ behavior change programs (at least, all the programs that are adhering to the standards required by the government), a staff member of the program must contact the female partners or ex-partners of the men in the program, on a regular basis. Of course, a woman is free to decline to give information to the staff, but most women are happy to be consulted, when they are assured of confidentiality and treated with respect. And in many cases, the woman partner tell the staff that the guy is not changing much. The partners often know a lot more about the abusers than the staff of the program do. And their feedback to the staff is very helpful because it enables the staff to see whether or not the man is actually changing or just putting on a show for the staff of the program.

    Partner contact is a vital element in assessing how much change occurs and how long the change lasts once the man has completed the program (if he even finishes it. . . many drop out when they are not mandated by the courts. ) From what I have read, there is a lot more research that needs to be done about how effective these programs are, and how long the positive effects last once the program is completed. And partner feedback to the staff or to researchers is a vital element in assessing program effectiveness. It’s not the only element, but it’s a very important one.

    Can you comment on all this?
    Is partner contact an essential part of the program you are involved in?
    Do you have any experience of how partner contact can give the staff in such programs a better idea of whether / how much the man is changing?

    And if partner contact is not a requirement in your program, how on earth to you assess a man’s change?

    Lastly, let me make one observation. The number of church folk who understand how to do partner contact effectively is miniscule. So, in my opinion, advising a church to ‘get alongside’ both the perpetrator and the victim, is a recipe for disaster. The church leaders ‘get alongside’ the perpetrator but all that does is feed into his masquerade of being the victim. And if the church leaders ask the genuine victim for her side of the story, they don’t believe her because her story is so different from the man’s story. So churches usually fail miserably at partner contact because they don’t have the training to do it. And when they do it, they often make the situation worse rather than better.

    But when partner contact is done properly by trained staff from perpetrator programs, the staff will give credence to the partner’s account: they will give believe and take seriously her perception of whether or not the man is changing, and whether that change is just superficial (manipulative) change, or heart change. And will use her feedback to inform their assessment of how much the abuser is still lying and still being abusive. But they won’t disclose her feedback to the man, as that could increase her danger — because if the man gets wind of what she has told the staff, he may retaliate on her, to punish her for disclosing her truths.

    • Hey Barbara, we do have partner contact, as well as working relationships with the shelter, law enforcement, prosecutors, cps, and basically anyone involved. This gives us some indication, but really only God knows the heart. I’ve had the priveledge of living in my community my entire life so that kind of connectivity helps as well. I just told a guy this morning that feeling bad doesn’t cut it. That acknowledging wrongdoing is great but only the first step. We must set the bar higher than getting the family back together to repentance and transformation.
      Anyway, in the cases I reffered to above I witnessed 1. a shift from obstinance to brokeness (accepting responsibilty) this was confirmed by partners over a significant period of time, in one case seven years now. 2. Repentance, this is vital. in the cases i refer to I witnessed a deliberate putting off of old behavior and motives, and a putting on of new behavior and motives. This also is can only substantiated by their partners, my observeation is not good enough alone. Last, is a process of making amends. These men not only acknowledged wrong, changed behavior, they validated the impact of the abuse by taking steps to make amends, on the victims terms. They sought fogiveness without demands, they acknowledge that they may lose thier partners and if so by their own doing, etc. Again, i can never and pastors should not force or push a victim or survivior back into the arms of even a ‘repentant’ man if she is uncomfortable, unwilling, or in need of more time or evidence. Of course these are the execptions. Most men fall into a continuim of change and we should maintain scepticism to an extent. So, as we educate the church I beleive victim safety should involve having a voice in the process of change. the most common response we heart from victims is that they want him to get help. One of our struggles is using our own eyes, generally as men, without consulting the desires and vision of the victim. Not sure if that answers the questions.

      • healingInHim says:

        “One of our struggles is using our own eyes, generally as men, without consulting the desires and vision of the victim.”
        Just wanted clarification because “the desires and vision of the victim” is a ‘trigger’ for me. As the years passed with no apparent heart-change after several counselling experiences my spouse began belittling me by saying that all I was after is that “he change”. Well, yes, he is the one that sinned??!! However, I also kept reminding him that initially I sought counsel over 15 years ago because I was concerned at my change in character as I was being accused of displaying anger. Sigh, I now realize that much of my anger was legitimate, I always felt it was righteous as I was dealing with a man who hid much from me. Most recently, he refers to his anger as ‘being anxious’ or ‘aggravated’. I shared that I was glad that he referenced those terms “as many times I’m not angry with you but aggravated or more often anxious with the circumstances.” Very often, any change in tone of voice is considered anger by him.
        My husband has now made himself unavailable to any counsel as he says he is not truly saved and doesn’t want to hear or discuss his ‘spiritual past and present’ stance; and he doesn’t agree with much secular counseling either. This is after studying one of the websites I have gleaned from. He is accountable to no one:-(
        So, I hope when you refer to “the desires and vision of the victim” we are realizing that the victim desires that Christ’s Word be obeyed in the relationship.

      • Thank you Chris, I am very pleased to know that your program includes partner contact, and that it also closely interacts with shelters, prosecutors, child protection services, parole departments, and anyone else who may also be involved with the men who attend your program. That sounds excellent to me, and while I only have a broad brush idea of the standards set for men’s behavior change programs, what you have described sounds like it would meet the standards that are set in Australia. I can’t tell you how much that reassures me!

        Thank you for describing in more detail the instances of heart-deep change in male perpetrators that you have witnessed. And thank you for all the rest of what you said.

        For me, if there was one stand-out sentence in your reply, it was this:
        “Most men fall into a continuum of change and we should maintain skepticism to an extent.”

        [and hope you don’t mind me correcting the spelling a bit there 🙂 ]

        bless you!

      • BeginHealing says:

        Chris, I just want to take a minute to thank you for this response. I am in the middle of sorting through communications that “feel” uncomfortable to me but I was having a hard time understanding why they made me uncomfortable. You simplified and affirmed what I should be expecting to see. I love that you followed your statement of needing to see a change in behavior with a change in motive as well. That is so critical. My h is spiritualizing his manipulations now and that confuses me tremendously. But that statement boiled it down to a simple equation for me so I could see the common denominator. What are his motives? He wants what he wants and is willing to do what ever it takes to get what he wants.

        I also appreciate the statement that “pastors should not force or push a victim or survivor back into the arms of even a ‘repentant’ man if she is uncomfortable, unwilling, or in need of more time or evidence.” So often in the fog of manipulation we survivors can’t articulate exactly why we are uncomfortable but we can be profoundly uncomfortable and frightened. All I can muster in some of those moments is that I don’t feel safe. I can’t explain why, my brain is in fight or flight. Our abusers are often much better at articulating and coercing others. We need time and space to discern not pressure to respond or act.

        So, thanks. Your words were a blessing to me.

  5. Another brief observation Chris. That video you and Leslie did. It seems that most of your viewers were victims of abuse. I have to wonder whether any abusers watched it!

    Since most abusers don’t seem to want to change, they wouldn’t bother watching that video. They would see it as a waste of time.

    Who do you see as the audience for this blog of yours (and that video)? Are you writing and speaking for an audience of victim/survivors? Or for an audience of abusers? Or for both abusers and victims? Or for primarily church leaders and counselors? How to you configure that all in your head? (don’t answer if you feel I’m being to pushy or impertinent)

    But it seems that whatever audience you would like be speaking to, the ones who are reading your work are primarily victim/survivors. They are the ones who are desperate for good teaching and support, since they have been burned by so much bad teaching and “support” in the past.

    • I’d say your right that most of those who watched our talk were victims; however, I think you’d be surprised by the number of abusive people who’ve watched and sought help. Of course most will not admit they are abusive. I love this quote from Violence Among Us, “Most abusers see themselves as misunderstood not wrong.” But, I’ll take what we can get. I love victim care, and it is a necessary ministry within the church that we are failing. I still believe that the best way to reduce violence against women in to address men. As far as my audience I honestly don’t know and it is a bit maddening. I guess I intended to write to men who are abusive in the hopes that pastors would read and interact with the material and see the need, but obviously as you pointed out most viewers, listeners, readers, and commenters are victim/surviviors. Thats alright and I hope to be an encouragement to them, and I believe as I continue to write, speak, and promote Pastoral intervention that includes confronting oppressive behavior victim/survivors will be blessed. I love Pastors, and I love the men that cross my path. Its hard work but I’m convinced the Church can/should be a force to be reckoned with in this area. Its certainly gone farther than I dreamed and if The Lord allows me to continue writing and speaking on the subject I’ll try to do my best to serve the church. -Peace

      • Andrew Reavis says:

        “I still believe that the best way to reduce violence against women in to address men.”

        I agree wholeheartedly. This is our vision, to work together, not necessarily at restoring a marriage (although that is the ideal), but to protect the next victim.

        I know in my heart, that if I would not have repented and came to the end of myself, I would have moved on to abuse another.

  6. healingInHim says:

    I’m hearing all of you but oh, it is just so hard to MOVE ON … I am sooo tired and am feeling guilty that I find no joy in what I used to do. With all family rejecting me at a time when I should find pleasure in sewing and knitting gifts — I am too exhausted with hours of counseling … and now he says “he is changing” by ‘moving on’ (he’s been reading some of the blogs and has heard of what counselors have told me to do) …
    I know who I am IN CHRIST but there are moments that I doubt myself and feel so overwhelmed; CRYING — it’s definitely crying over more death – death of family now that even the one child has refused to visit me with the granddaughter; all because I set a boundary in our relationship:-(
    My husband is able to move on because he is not being rejected. He never used to visit anyone without me – Now he feels quite content and says he is more relaxed without me. He considers this a ‘change’ for him — it involves life without me, doesn’t like my personality, now, however he is content to live as room mates. Says he won’t go for the divorce because it would be too overwhelming and costly for him. (I refer to ‘content’ as that is what he refers to; he says he is not happy but content)
    I don’t idolize family relationships but I have been isolated and do not feel safe in the local churches. Thank you Lord for the internet so I can receive teaching/preaching, however, face-to-face relationships once in a while would be welcome!

    • Brenda R says:

      healingInHim,
      I was isolated for a long time. I had my daughters who still stand with me, my mother calls occasionally but lives 2k miles away. I was only allowed the wives of his friends and family and had little in common with them. I didn’t have a church home for a long time. One day I got the courage up and said I was going with or without him. He gave me a choice of 3 churches that I could go to, I could not make my own choice even in where I chose to worship. I believe I made the best choice of the 3. I have made a few friends, mostly women 20 years older than myself, but I feel so comfortable with them. They don’t judge me and all have a beautiful spirit.

      It is hard to move on. Oh don’t I know it. I lived in the final abusive marriage for 16 years and knew him for 22 at the time of the separation. I was 56 and would tell myself what was the use in leaving, my life was almost over anyways and if I left I would only find something worse. Those were the lies I was telling myself. Moving on has made my health better. I have a lot of health issues: MS, Fibromyalgia, Osteoporosis–the list goes on, but even with all of that having my heart, mind and soul at peace is so worth it. Having those things in check and the relief from stress and walking on eggshells has made symptoms and frequency of relapses lessen. After being away and the abuse continuing was actually a good thing for me. While that was happening, I discovered that I did not “need” a man in my life. I have GOD and what more do I need.

      • healingInHim says:

        Thank you, Brenda for your words of encouragement. I’m not concerned about having a man in my life and I also realize that God’s Word points to countless broken families because of His Name. So,if He has chosen that my daughters be alienated from me, so be it. I must confess to being baffled as to why I can’t move on except for the fact that I am not using to making ‘major decisions’ by myself – “he” was always a part of it.
        I guess in some ways, “he” has made a decision … there’s no relationship, never has been except for business and ‘the bedroom’. “He” is only interested in the financial aspect of our lives, now.
        Hoping to hear from a pastor many hours away but seems sensitive to my concerns. He may have insight as to how to cope with the local pastors who feel threatened by me asking some ‘basic’ questions about ‘what they believe’. He may even feel compelled to contact some of them for me – I must confess to feeling very vulnerable as a woman – you ask too many questions or voice your concerns; you are labeled as divisive.

      • Brenda R says:

        healingInHim,
        I ask a lot of questions, even about things that were said in sermons. Pastor always answers. a pastor who won’t answer, that scares me. I still feel vulnerable walking into service alone. For the past year I have been picking up an older woman in the church who was no longer allowed to drive. That made me feel better. She was put in an assisted living facility a few hours from here, so now I am back to feeling awkward. I hope I get over this someday soon. I hope the pastor that you are going to talk with gives you some insight on how to deal with your local ministry.

    • HIH,
      I can only imagine how difficult this time must be for you. I sure do appreciate Brenda’s willingness to offer encouragement, even if from a distance. I’m sure a face to face relationship would offer a tremendous amount of comfort, I know it would for me (I’m a hugger – nothing like a hug from a friend). But, as you wait please know that we’re praying for you and your family. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:3
      -Peace

      • Brenda R says:

        You’ve got that right, Rev Chris. It really feels funny wanting to encourage people and not be able to give them a hug. I don’t get or get to give many of those. (A placement program would be great. Also, problematic finding out where everyone lives and getting compatible people together. I know I talk to people in several countries online and all over the US. I know of one other person from MI and she is 3 hours away.) Mostly cyber hugs, but it’s not the same. I spend a lot of time alone at work and at home. The ladies that I call friends are all spread out in 3 counties. So we don’t get together a lot, but they are there for me and I for them. But I am never alone, Jesus is always there. (((((HUGS))))) to all.

      • healingInHim says:

        Thank You RevChrismoles for the prayers. I am forever grateful that in the Lord’s timing He as allowed me internet access and allowed me to meet with others who “understand”. I have never sought pity but only friendships and counsel from those who would make sure I am on the right path; that I am true to the Scriptures in everything I do.

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