Failure Doesn’t Get the Last Word

images-1The most abysmal failure of my life was the time I planted and pastored a church and after four years of loving, nurturing and pouring my whole self into it, it died. I’ve succeeded at so many things, but this thing I could not do. In 2015, just one year into the church plant, my marriage weathered its toughest storm. That crisis tormented my soul and sucked away at my mortal energy.

My focus was everywhere except growing and pastoring the flock. I never regained my momentum and after a series of losses, it was glaringly apparent I could no longer lead these people. So, in August 2018, we closed the doors and my family joined another Nazarene church; now I support someone else’s ministry.

I spent the better part of a year nursing those wounds and trying to recover from that failure. I told myself I was done being a pastor. I removed the title from my resume, social media and website, donated over 100 theological books to the local thrift store and set about to ignore anything God would have to say to me on the topic.

Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of healing since that time and decided that verse about “the gifts and call of God being irrevocable” (Romans 11:29) is probably true (insert big toothy grin here). While I don’t aspire to be the lead pastor again, I do want to preach because women need to see women in the pulpit preaching and leading. I spoke at a ladies retreat three weeks ago and I’ve started writing again. I’m definitely in a different headspace and better able to frame that failure. In fact, I really don’t even see it as a failure anymore because it’s hard to call something a failure when I learned so much from it.

Which brings me to the main point here: failure doesn’t get the last word.

Failure doesn’t mean I didn’t accomplish anything, it means I learned something.
Failure doesn’t mean I was a fool, it does mean I had enough faith to try.
Failure doesn’t mean I’ve been disgraced, it means I dared to move forward.
Failure doesn’t mean I don’t have what it takes, it means I have to do something in a different way.
Failure doesn’t mean I’m inferior, it means I am not perfect.
Failure doesn’t mean I’ve wasted my time or life, it means I have an excuse to start all over again.
Failure doesn’t mean I should give up, it means I should reload.
Failure doesn’t mean I’ll never make it, it means I need more patience.

Failure doesn’t get the last word!

 

 

 
References: John Maxwell Podcast, Failure isn’t Final

Crossing the Terror Barrier

imagesHow I loathe coming against the terror barrier, it’s…well, it’s terrifying! What is the terror barrier you ask? It is the invisible obstacle that separates the comfort zone from the growth zone and it’s excruciating to cross. The comfort zone is predictable, cozy, safe, easy and in my opinion very boring. The growth zone is unpredictable, risky, and vulnerable, but it can be thrilling like a roller coaster ride.

You know you’re approaching the terror barrier when you get a new idea about a dream or goal you want to pursue, but suddenly you are filled with anxiety, fear, worry and dread. You might ask yourself, “What if I fail?” “What if everyone hates my idea?” “What if they reject me?”

At this point, most people are reluctant to step out and act on their new idea due to fear. Anyone who has ever accomplished anything of value has come up against the terror barrier but they channeled their fear appropriately and moved through it. I have recently opened the door to the terror barrier and I am trying to find the courage to walk through.

I’m petrified.

On one hand, I don’t want to turn back but I can’t stay where I am at, so I have to cross and get to the other side where freedom lives.

I’m working on this project that is bigger than me. It’s demanding of my time and energy. It’s above my education level and beyond my subject knowledge. Yet I feel compelled to move forward with the project. It feels like giving birth from my soul.

I know how to get what is needed to accomplish the final goal. I can figure out the direction in which I need to go. I have access to resources and I can visualize myself achieving this dream.

The “project” is a book about the desperate need for women to properly see ourselves in the Bible as something more than ancillary figures who submit to their husbands and bear children. The Bible is chock-full of inspirational women who were preachers, warriors, apostles and strong leaders.

The modern woman needs to hear and understand more about who those women were and what they did for the kingdom so they can see for themselves how they fit into God’s story.

Eve holds the key to our identity in the story of God. When we grasp her true calling and who she was created to be, we are then able to make better sense of the entire Bible and all those controversial passages about women.

I will share insights from my personal and professional experiences as a pastor and therapist and teach my readers how they inadvertently bring personal and cultural biases to the table when engaging the Bible.

God is my helper, I know that. It doesn’t take away the fear though and sometimes I wonder, “Will people take me seriously?”

Eve: The Mighty Strong Power

imagesThe Bible is an ancient collection of sacred scriptures. It was written in another culture, at another time, to a different audience and by men who spoke another language. Most people tend to forget this when they “read the Bible for all it’s worth.” They sit, they read, they elucidate and then apply a biblical solution to a 21st century issue based on their personal level of understanding.

The lens through which they interpret is the one of their own race and culture. The average Christian will rarely research the original language, syntax and culture or question the author’s original intent.

If we neglect to consider the cultural and language differences of the Bible, we miss something important the authors have to say and sometimes we miss the entire point of the passage. Since no language translates verbatim into another language, many Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible can lose their original meaning and power during the translation process.

Enter Eve

Lets consider for a moment the words “helper suitable” from Genesis 2:18:

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Various versions of the Bible also record: suitable helper/helpmeet/helpmate/helper fit/aide fit/suitable partner/helper comparable.

Up until this point in Scripture God has declared all things “good,” now he makes this startling statement in Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The word “helper” used in this verse in the Hebrew is ezer. Ezer means: to rescue/to save/to be strong. When these two words “helper suitable” are translated together you get ezer kenegdo and there are only two options when translating them into English: mighty strong helper or mighty strong power.

ezerrThe word ezer is a military term that God uses as his own name throughout the Old Testament to describe how God comes through for his people in times of great difficulty. God says “I will be your Ezer Israel,” “I will rescue you!” God gave THAT name to Eve and we are her daughters, therefore we are ezers too! God could have given Eve the Hebrew name for wife, but he did not. He could have given Eve the Hebrew name for assistant, but he did not. He could have given Eve the Hebrew name for aide, but he did not.

When rephrased based on this new understanding you can read:

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a mighty strong power for him.”

Stated this way, there is not a hint of inferiority in this passage, yet throughout Christian history, Eve has often been presented as a subordinate helper to Adam. I would say something vitally important has been lost along the way.

The word helper in English means: teammate, aide, supporter, colleague. The problem with those words is that none of them were the Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:18. The word that was used was ezer: mighty strong power! That was Eve’s first name and she was named ezer because that is the name God wanted her to have.

In Genesis 3 the ezer did something totally unexpected of a mighty strong power. Eve sinned. She did a “thing” she listened to the lies of the serpent, was deceived, ate the fruit from the tree she knew she should not be eating from. Immediately, she had a new awareness she didn’t have before and she suddenly feels that warm wash of shame, then came all the blame.

It was then that the relationship began to crumble. Now the equal partnership between the adam and the ezer was broken until Jesus came to reconcile the relationships between humanity and God and men and women. The statement “and he will rule over you” in Genesis 3:16 is a consequence of sin. God was NOT making a new command whereby wives should be under the authority of their husbands, it was a proclamation that this would be the new marital dynamic. Patriarchy became the norm after the fall, but it was never commanded and endorsed by God.

So my friends, it is time to reclaim our identity as ezers! There is no hierarchy in Christ. There is no God then husband then wife for God created husband and wife to stand shoulder to shoulder with one another as co-leaders and co-heirs in Christ and that is GOOD NEWS!IMG_3846

Being an ezer should not only be good news to women, it should be good news to men too because this means men do not have to take on the full weight of the home and world on their shoulders. Sisters, as the ezer you get to share that burden!

 

 

References: Reclaiming Eve, Vindicating the Vixens, Ezer Rising

The Headaches of Late Cancellations and No-Shows

imagesAnyone who works in an industry where you only get paid if your appointments show up, knows the frustrations that come with late cancellations and no-shows. I am a licensed professional counselor working in a community based counseling practice. I typically book six to eight sessions per day. Some days, all of those sessions hold and other times I can get up to five cancellations in a single day.

If the client is a no-show or does not provide sufficient notice, our practice charges a $50 fee, but there is really no legal recourse in collecting that money. Even if the client pays the fee, it still falls short of the amount I could have made if the session held. Some of my clients pay the fee, but their behaviors don’t change. They continue to miss appointments or cancel at the last minute and tell me “Just charge my card for the late fee if you have to.” Other clients disregard the fee and stop coming to counseling. I’ve also had a handful of people ask for a waiver because they had an emergency and forgot to call. But emergencies only constitute a very small portion of my late cancellations and no-shows.

Non-emergency late cancellations and no-shows represent lost revenue to the therapist and the practice. Therapists do not typically get paid unless the therapy session is held and most therapists in community based counseling pay a split or percentage of their earnings to the practice owner for administrative support. But late cancellations and no-shows aren’t just frustrating for the therapist and the practice they are missed opportunities to provide care to other clients who needed and wanted to be seen.

As a professional counselor, I work hard to deliver value to every client in every session. I have to, or I will not remain in business long. I have to be at the top of my game at all times. “Rent” is due every hour and if there is ever a time I do not add value to a client, you can believe they won’t return. So I try to use those days where I only hold two or three sessions as opportunities for professional development. I read a book, listen to a podcast or attend a coaching call with one of my mentors.

But I digress, if you are one of those people who cancel at the last minute or just don’t show to your appointments for whatever reason, please do the courteous thing and make a phone call, send an email or text to cancel within the practice guidelines (which your provider is required to go over with you during the intake). This makes it easier to get folks in who have been on the waiting list or are in an active crisis.

Three Questions Asked of Every Leader

images

One of my first jobs out of graduate school was at a psychiatric facility. I worked in the admissions department taking crisis calls and admitting new patients into the hospital. My immediate supervisor was good enough, but her boss? Well she was another story! I will refer to her as “Angie.” Angie was insecure and lacked basic people skills for the position. She yelled at people, grabbed things out of their hands, ignored us when she was upset, reprimanded employees (in front of others) who didn’t report to her, solicited validation from her direct reports, stomped around the office and almost never smiled.

Her style was “lead by intimidation,” you never knew what you were going to get. No one liked her and no one was following her. I believe if you are the leader and you have no followers, you’re just taking a walk. Angie was definitely taking a walk, but I’m not sure she knew where she was going. I’m not even sure she liked people. She had no vision for her team, no one trusted her, she didn’t offer to help unless it benefited her and if she cared for any of us, we never knew it.

Angie’s leadership (or lack thereof) exposes a profound truth: you can’t lead people unless you like people. People give you permission to be their leader and before they do that, they need to know you care about them. In fact, every follower has three implicit questions of their leader. Review these questions and ask yourself “How am I demonstrating this to the people I lead?”

1. Can you help me? No one ever advances to the top by themselves. There is always someone there who helps develop them and assist in the advancement of their career. People look to their leaders for development and help in advancing their careers too. As the leader, what are you doing to help advance the careers of the ones you lead?

2. Do you care about me? I don’t know anyone who wants to work for a person or company who doesn’t care about them. Folks want to work for someone who has a true interest in them as an individual. Take the time to interact with your team, get to know who they are, who their family is and how they feel cared for. You should know your team well enough to lead them in the way they want to be led. No doubt you’ve heard of the Golden Rule, but the Platinum Rule applies here: lead people in the way they need to be led.

3. Can I trust you? Trust is the foundation of the leader/follower relationship. Dr. Henry Cloud says that trust is like a brick wall that must be constructed brick by brick over a long period of time, but if it is breached, the wall comes crashing down and must be rebuilt brick by brick again over time. So, avoid things that destroy trust, they are often the unintentional things like not doing what you said you would do, not listening, not helping and not being authentic.

References: John Maxwell, The Five Levels of Leadership

 

Does Your Communication Style Need to Shift?

Leader-CommunicationAhhhh 1990, the age of perms, pleats, shoulder pads and pantyhose. It was also the year I attended my first supervision training while working for one of the nation’s largest banks. The training lasted two half-days and covered performance review writing, hiring and firing, a sprinkle of communication here and there and the proper dress code for managers. That’s it! No mention of personal development or leadership skills. On the job training consisted of me running back and forth between my small team and my manager for guidance. I figured out the rules as I went along, I had no clue how to lead those people and it showed!

It wasn’t entirely my fault though, those were pre-Internet days and most training courses and personal development books focused only on basic manager skills. John Maxwell’s, Developing the Leader Within You would not be written for another three years, and the organization I worked for had not yet shifted its focus from management to leadership.

My early leadership style was insecure. I had no long range vision, little trust from my team and I thought the people needed me more than I needed them. I had been trained to lead from the typical top down with the strategy of barking orders and issuing commands to get things done, until that is, I learned a more effective way.

John Maxwell says, “Leadership moves at the speed of trust.” Trust has to be earned, it is not automatically given just because the leader holds a certain title; most people know this already. But what is not widely understood is that you, the leader, must shift from directing to connecting in order to gain that trust from your followers. Connecting with people is essential not only for establishing trust, but also in order to achieve organizational goals.

Review the columns below and see where you find yourself and if needed, make the necessary shift today. Being directional isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes the position of leadership calls for this communication style, but if you want your people to win, you will need to stretch yourself and become a connector because good leaders always want their people to win!

Connector Director
Conversational Directional
Collaborative Authoritative
Mainly listens Does all the talking
Side by side Top down
Empowers Enlists
Understanding Assuming
Asks questions Gives answers
“Your” agenda “My” agenda
“Your” ground “My” ground
All about you All about me
I sit with you I stand, you sit

Who Are You Leading?

My husband and I were recently discussing the concept of leadership over sushi and wine at our favorite Asian fusion restaurant when he asked me an interesting question, “Who are you leading?” I took a moment for thoughtful consideration of the question and answered: “Well, I am leading the most difficult person in the world…me! I am also leading my kids, and every person who enters my therapy office for counseling.”

John Maxwell defines leadership as influence- nothing more, nothing less. Leadership is not a title or position and sometimes the person with all the influence in the organizatiLeadership Concepton is not even the one with the title. The person with the most influence could be the one with the least power.

So often we complicate this term and ascribe meaning to it that simply does not fit. For example, in most of my conversations with people, I hear the term manger in place of leader, but the two are not synonymous. Think of it this way: you manage things, but you lead people.

And good leadership starts with you! You see, I can lead my peers, I can lead those who report to me and I can even lead the ones to whom I report, but if I cannot lead myself why in the world would anyone want to follow me?

Leading yourself well means:

You are coachable- you know how to follow as well as lead
You are accountable to someone- you have a mentor
You are self-disciplined- you know when to ask for help and take appropriate measures to self-educate and/or self-correct
You pursue patience- and are not prone to outbursts of anger
You hold yourself to a higher standard- you refrain from self-indulgence and strive for excellence

You are the hardest person you will ever lead and you are the most important person you will ever lead and leading yourself is one of the most important things you will ever do as a leader.

***Jenny Compton is a certified leadership coach, teacher and speaker with the John Maxwell Team.***

2019: The Year of Consistency

Happy-new-yearEvery January I make the same promise to myself: publish more articles for my blog site. As fate would have it, life steps in the way and writing is relegated to the back burner. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on why I have a blog site in the first place. It’s not like I have a ton of followers waiting with bated breath for my next story and I certainly can’t compete with all those millennial mommies out there writing on interesting topics about their “littles.” I’m just a regular person living an average life, or so I thought…until a new friend walked into my life.

My new friend and I met for breakfast on the last Saturday of December. She’s no nonsense, direct with a splash of unintentional humor; She’s my kind of person! She’s a passionate communicator and wants to share with others the differences her white son and black son have experienced in the educational system. I encouraged her to keep pressing on because the world needs her perspective. It was during that conversation that I realized how valuable my own voice is to the world.

This blog is first and foremost my outlet and space for healing from all that life throws at me. Thanks to navigating some (major) negative life events in 2018, I am prepared to be more authentic and true to myself in my writing, I get to be more opinionated and best of all I get to write on controversial topics and I don’t have to worry much about the backlash!

Initially I thought that whole “sum up the new year in one word” thing was a bit cheesy, but I’ve changed my mind- I’m doing it! My one word for 2019 is CONSISTENCY. In the coming weeks and months I’m going to consistently use my voice to speak truth and life through the written word. Happy New Year everyone!

Seven Ways CrossFit Changed My Life

It’s August and I live in central North Carolina, which means it’s rainy, humid and unbearably hot in the gym these days. The white non-descript building located at 318 Main Street has become a staple for me over the past 14 months. At the moment, I’m the only “athlete” in the box so I take advantage of setting up a rower in front of one of the three industrial fans. It won’t be long before the 9:00 a.m. class files in for their daily dose of torture. Oh how I have come to love that hour of tearing muscles and sucking air!images

Confession: I’m slightly obsessed with my CrossFit workouts. I check the Wodify app at 10:00 p.m. every night to read up on the next day’s WOD (workout of the day). I select my workout clothes prior to bedtime and fall asleep dreaming about hitting the red RX+ button. I’m the annoying person in the monthly staff meetings who won’t shut up about reaching a new weight lifting PR. My family thinks I’m crazy; but they love me so they just grin and bear my endless chatter about EMOMs (every minute on the minute) and AMRAPs (as many rounds and reps as possible). My friends think I’ve joined a cult. But CrossFit has filled an important void in my life and changed me in ways I never anticipated.

  1. I’m healthier: Before CrossFit I was taking a Statin drug for high cholesterol and my doctor was considering a trial of high blood pressure medication. In May 2017 I read an article highlighting a frightening truth that went something like this: we gain weight in our 30s, go on medications in our 40s and disease sets in during our 50s. I was 4 months shy of turning 50 so that was all the motivation I needed. I chatted with my doctor and together we agreed CrossFit sounded like a good plan, so he consented to stopping my medications. In June 2017, I joined CrossFit Clayton (CFC). One year later my doctor was quite impressed with my completely NORMAL blood panel and I am medication free!
  2. Weight loss: At 5 ‘4 I was tipping the scales at 151 pounds. I could no longer hide the muffin top that spilled over the waist of my jeans. Within 6 months of joining CrossFit and minor dietary changes, I lost 15 pounds.
  3. Body love: I work hard for the body I now have. I have muscles I haven’t seen since my 20s. I don’t have to suck in my gut and at 50 I wear a two-piece to the beach with confidence. I give no thought to a cute 25 year old showing me up, because I look just as good as her! I have (baby) abs, I look toned and I love my body!
  4. I’m strong: CrossFit is notorious for tough moves like handstand push-ups, muscle ups, snatches, box jumps, etc. It’s taken some time, but I have achieved many of these movements. I can do double unders, toes to bar, regular push-ups, kipping pull-ups, climb a 15 foot rope, run 5 miles without stopping, deadlift more than my bodyweight, climb an 8 foot wall, and do all sorts of weight lifting movements. Sometimes…I pretend I’m Christmas Abbott!
  5. It’s Fun: CrossFit WODS are varied and it might take years to repeat the same workout. They’re fun (in a sadistic sort of way), especially if you like variety, reaching your aerobic threshold quickly and waking to sore muscles daily.
  6. Camaraderie: I have made wonderful and lasting friendships at my local box. I have several comrades I can call on for Spartan and Tough Mudder events. And that grueling Saturday morning partner WOD? No problem with help from a CFC (CrossFit Clayton) buddy! The annual Christmas party is a blast. One of our coach’s facilitates a weekly Bible study. We support each other through pregnancy, marriage, death and all of life’s ups and downs. CrossFit has truly been the Church to me. What would I do without my CFC family?5af8d7555ff1d75a10e479a7
  7. Coaching: At CFC we have a trained and dedicated coaching staff who are invested in helping us reach our fitness and dietary goals. They are accomplished, supportive, knowledgeable and encouraging. My coaches make me want to work harder and reach my goals! Thanks CrossFit!

 

 

The Other “F” Word

n-FEMINISM-628x314Feminism has become the other “F” word. Speak it in any friend circle and you’re likely to provoke a myriad of emotions and strong responses. You either embrace the movement or you hate it; there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground here.

A colleague recently shared with me the sordid details from her book club’s current selection. Just one chapter in and she was quite shocked with the steamy storyline.   Being the helpful person that I am, I recommended the book Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. My colleague caught up with me a couple of weeks later to let me know that most of the women in her group were receptive to the title, but at least one replied “Uh (insert friend’s name here), please- you know how I feel about that (feminism).”

The rest of our conversation went something like this:

Me: “So, let me get this straight…it’s okay to read about giving your BOYFRIEND a blow job, but it’s not okay to read a wholesome book from a Christian perspective about the radical notion that women are people too?”

Colleague: “Yep, pretty much.”

Me: Very loud sigh of frustration.

I used to be a closet feminist. I believed (still do) in the movement, kept myself apprised of the movement’s progress and educated those closest to me about the movement, but my thoughts and opinions went no further than my inner circle for fear of judgment. My turning point was five years ago when I became an ordained minister. My teenage daughter was attending a Christian fundamentalist high school at the time and for the next four years she was ridiculed for both her feminist beliefs and my ministerial ordination. She was called a Nazi Feminist, told that women cannot be president because they are too emotional and challenged daily on her interpretation of the Bible as it relates to female pastors.

Two of my closely held beliefs are: (1) People fear things they don’t understand and (2) People need to be educated. Since I was a lead pastor at the time my daughter was in the frying pan, I began to preach more on egalitarianism and the dangers of patriarchy. I didn’t saturate people with the ideologies and I ensured my approach was gentle; I literally preached on these topics maybe once every other month. On one occasion, a female congregant told me that I might want to consider backing off.

What makes a person a feminist and aren’t feminists man haters? I’ll answer the first part of this question by providing a definition of the term in a moment, but my response to the second portion of the question is CERTAINLY NOT! I am not a man hater! I am married to a man, I have two sons and two grandsons and I love each of them dearly.

A quick search on the Internet returned the following definitions for feminism:

  • The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.
  • A range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes.
  • The radical notion that women are people too.

If after reading the above definitions, you still firmly stand against feminism- you really need to ask yourself this question: “Do I really believe that all human beings deserve equal rights?” Because at its core, this is what feminism is about…equal rights. Whether you love or hate feminism, every woman alive today has benefited from its fruits. Here is a short sampling of our benefits:

  • The right to own property
  • The right to vote
  • Access to contraception
  • Higher education
  • Access to broader job selections
  • Equal pay
  • Decrease in domestic violence rates

I encounter a lot of folks who are happy to share in the benefits of feminism as long as they don’t have to do the hard work to bring about equality or claim the feminist label. All I am promoting here is the notion that we need to be having open conversations on this topic instead of running from them and spewing unkind words at each other. When we come from a place of understanding instead of fear and hatred, the world is a nicer place for all of us!

 

 

Twelve Steps to Facilitate Affair Recovery

affair-recovery-300x200You’ve decided to salvage your marriage after an affair. It’s not going to be easy to sift through the wreckage and there will be no quick fixes. Re-establishing trust after a monumental transgression is grueling, but with grit and determination you can rebuild. The saying, “What you have done, you will do again,” in the context of infidelity means: once a cheater always a cheater. I reject that belief, having one affair is not the same as being a serial cheater.

Of course you don’t have a guarantee that your partner will never cheat again, but you never had a guarantee to begin with. No human is above falling. If you were the faithful spouse, it is crucial you understand the infidelity wasn’t your fault. You are not responsible for your spouse’s actions and poor decisions. There is no magic recipe for healing, but these twelve steps can be instrumental in the process of rebuilding.

  1. Forgiveness– There is nothing fair about forgiveness; it is a costly gift the betrayed spouse offers to the unfaithful one. Healing will take time and you will most likely need the assistance of a counselor. Therapy can help you flesh out the affair narrative and get you the answers you need to move forward in order to forgive.
  2. Recommitment– Commitment is the most important ingredient to a long-term successful relationship. The higher the commitment level, the more likely you will be to stay together when the storm winds blow. Trust can be re-established, love can be revived, but once you throw in the commitment towel, the relationship is essentially dead.
  3. Affair Termination– If the primary relationship is to survive, the affair must be terminated abruptly. No explanation is needed. If you work closely with the affair partner, transfer to another department or change jobs altogether. Block rather than delete phone numbers and email addresses.
  4. Disclosure– As a therapist, I advocate for full disclosure of the affair so the faithful partner can make informed decisions, such as seeing a doctor for STD testing. A word of caution however, you will need to balance your partner’s full disclosure with your ability to cope once the specifics come out. Any communication from the affair partner should be divulged to your spouse immediately.
  5. Secrets– Affairs thrive in secrets and marriages thrive in transparency. When all secrets are on the table, you know who and what you are up against and you are better able to move forward in the healing process. Sharing social media accounts and passcodes for phones, iPads and bank accounts assists in recovering trust. Agree to never change the passwords without consulting with the other partner.
  6. Remembrance– Emerson Eggerichs introduces the 80:20 ratio in his book Love and Respect. This concept says that 80 percent of the marriage can be categorized as good or great while 20 percent is troubling. Many times (pre-affair) couples are focused on everything wrong with each other. As you pursue healing, make a conscious decision to remember the good, get the derailed back on track, forgive the flaws and make new memories.
  7. Romance– You can sabotage your marriage by spending more time on the things that annoy you. In doing so, you water the weeds and strangle the romance. If you want your reconstruction efforts to be fruitful you will have to make a deliberate choice to revive the passion through flirting, laughing, kissing, and when going on dates- staying off the cell phones.
  8. Counseling– Attending weekly sessions will provide you both with the support you need in order to re-launch a better than ever marriage. It also provides a safe place to voice your opinions and concerns about the affair while examining the causes of the unfaithfulness.
  9. Partnership– Marriage is a partnership, which means one person does not hold too much or all of the power. Both parties should contribute meaningfully to the relationship while respecting each other’s contributions.
  10. Grief– One of the best gifts you can give to yourself is permission to grieve the death of your marriage as it was. Set up a support system of friends who will allow you to lament freely. Journaling can provide the outlet to express intense emotions so you do not grow bitter. Whatever you do, stay with your grief work for as long as it takes. There are simply no short cuts.
  11. Boundaries– Trust can be re-established, but getting there will take time, patience and boundaries. Explore those boundaries together so both of you are clear on what you are expecting. If you were the unfaithful spouse, engage a friend or pastor as an accountability partner; your spouse cannot police all of your actions. Finally, commit to a new and higher standard of sexual conduct.
  12. Bonding Time– Initiate a nightly routine of “pillow talk” before going to sleep. This is a good opportunity to strengthen your emotional bond as you recount the day, talk about future plans, pray, or read a devotional together.

Six Things to Let Go of Post Affair

imagesLearning you have been betrayed by the very person who vowed to love, honor and cherish you until parted by death is devastating. Most betrayed partners remember with vivid clarity, every detail of the day they discovered the affair. Not one moment passes by where there is not an acute awareness of their spouse’s decision to stray from the marriage covenant. The knowledge of the infidelity is always present, in every context of life.

Survivors of adultery say you are healed when you can recall the affair and it no longer causes deep emotional anguish. Until that point, every remembrance of the affair threatens to take your breath away, but you do not have to be a hostage to depression or enslaved by fear. With consistent and focused therapy, you can recover and relinquish the toxic waste that has been weighing you down. These six things are healthy to let go of post affair:

  1. Unforgiveness– Forgiving your husband/wife may seem reasonable, especially if you’re trying to reconcile the relationship, but the affair partner? You may not even want to forgive them or perhaps it feels like an impossible task considering their blatant disregard for your marriage. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Talk to God, process your feelings in therapy, but choose forgiveness. I know it isn’t easy and it may take a while to get there, but unforgiveness will fester and spread like cancer. Forgiveness is making the difficult choice to radically accept what you cannot change and agreeing to no longer hold this egregious action against the people who caused you this seemingly unending pain. Forgiveness will liberate you.
  2. Images– If you suffer from mental images of your husband/wife with the affair partner, you are not alone. These abominable images come to your mind at the MOST inconvenient times, they are hard to erase and become the triggers that fuel many arguments and sleepless nights. They are not emotionally healthy and they get in the way of being present with the people you love. So when the intrusive images make their presence known, interrupt the experience and block them by thinking of something more positive.
  3. Despair– One of the reasons betrayal hurts so much is because it is a weapon found only in the hands of someone you love. Your enemy doesn’t have this power. Betrayal is mutiny, a violation of a trust, an inside job. After a betrayal it is common to feel despair. You may even question who you are and court suicidal thoughts. Humiliation and embarrassment become your closest friends. It’s okay to acknowledge the feeling, but don’t live here. Discuss these feelings with your therapist. Even if your marriage is not salvageable, you will recover. Divorce despair and pursue healing and wholeness.
  4. Demonizing the affair partner– It’s easier to forgive your spouse when you are trying to save the marriage and demonize the affair partner. And though there may be many reasons for demonizing him/her: decimated finances, pregnancy, STDs, etc., the brutal truth is, they (your spouse and the affair partner) are BOTH to blame. It is highly unlikely the affair partner will feel guilty enough to take responsibility for their actions or even apologize for their home wrecking antics. Don’t let this person live rent free in your head and don’t waste your precious time plotting revenge.
  5. Ruminating on the affair– Instead of ruminating on the affair and all the “what if’s,” focus on the redemption of your marriage and the new things God is doing in your life. If your partner is repentant as evidenced by terminating the affair, expressing remorse and taking active steps to repair the damage while participating in your healing, you are headed in the right direction. It is safe to stop replaying the events of the affair disclosure in your mental theatre.
  6. Interrogating your spouse– I advocate for the affair details to be shared with the offended party in order for proper emotional healing to take place. Constantly interrogating the guilty spouse, however, will only serve to push them away and you end up reliving the trauma. A good therapist will help you flesh out the affair narrative, learn the causes of the infidelity and repair the breaches. Resist interrogating your spouse and allow your therapist to facilitate the questions and answers you need in order to heal.