Friday, July 12, 2013

Beware of Cutting Corners

After my first year of recovery (July/August 2012) and much prayer, I felt led to start back counseling once we moved to North MS. When things first came out, though, I said I would never again work in a church setting or do counseling. God seemed to have other plans for me, at least for now in regards to counseling.

Once we moved, I started counseling with two conditions:
  1. I would report to my marriage and family therapy licensing board what I had done.
  2. I would not counsel females alone in therapy; only men, couples and families. 
In May 2012, I sent my licensing board a letter of confession stating what I had done. I have been working with them for over a year now regarding my licensing status, etc. I also have stuck to my commitment of not counseling females alone in therapy (with the exception of two sessions where the husband and wife were splitting up, and I saw each of them individually twice).

I feel compelled to share this information on this blog post because I am sure some people are "skeptical" and think it's wrong of me to be counseling again. Had I not received such clear direction from God, I would agree with them.

I am honored to be counseling and actually enjoy it more than ever. Though I have done awful things, I don't feel like such a hypocrite anymore. My secret is out, I am doing lots of recovery work on myself and my marriage, and I feel like I have more to offer my clients. For the first ten years of doing counseling, I did not have such peace and clarity.

The couples who I feel most able to help are those who come to me for adultery recovery. Though every situation has very different details, many of their feelings and recovery steps are similar. Seeing their pain keeps me humble, aware of how my sin has hurt others, and enables me to pass on the things God has taught me over the past two years.

One of the greatest gifts I believe I can give my clients is HOPE. No matter how difficult things get for couples facing adultery, I believe there is hope. God CAN do something miraculous and amazing. Sadly, many couples don't get to experience it, and bail on the recovery process. Some also do themselves a disservice by rushing the process or skipping key steps.

One thing I have noticed over and over with couples who are facing recovery is that they are tempted to cut corners. Every couple facing adultery experiences deep, intense pain. However, for the ones who get to feel an instant "re-connecting," there is a sense of excitement, closeness and affection that had been missing for YEARS. They know there is much to talk about and do, but it feels good to be getting along and attending to each other for the first time in a long time.

"Rocking the boat" a few weeks into their recovery by asking hard questions that may potentially cause conflict isn't something they want to do. It feels good to be doing so well, so early in the process. When couples are at this point in their journey (possibly weeks or months after it all came out), they face a major crossroad/point of decision: "Do we do the hard work of recovery and get all the junk out OR sweep it under the rug and move forward without really "rehashing old wounds?"

If I can offer a bit of wisdom here that we have learned, then it is this: DON'T CUT CORNERS BY RUSHING THROUGH THE HEALING PROCESS!!! Short-term "comfort" (i.e. avoidance) now will delay your healing and long-term growth and recovery. Instead, walk through the short-term pain, possibly brutal pain, and aim for LONG-TERM, full healing! I promise you it is worth it. Amy and I are a testimony to that!

The longer you go without dealing with the pain, lies, betrayal, etc, the harder it will be on your marriage. And I believe the lower your chances will be of sticking together and/or thriving long-term.

Here's a thought: You wouldn't want your home builder to cut corners when building your new dream home would you? So don't in your recovery!!!

There are many steps to the recovery process that may not be clear when facing such a brutal marriage crisis, but the main thing to keep in mind is DON'T RUSH THE PROCESS! Walk through the pain, as long as it takes, whatever it takes.
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."  
Philippians 1:6 (New American Standard Bible ©1995)

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