Why Church Can Be a Dangerous Place

I (Henry) got an emergency call, and the office relayed to me that I had a suicidal client. I called Theresa on the phone. She was distraught. “Tell me what happened,” I said. “It’s not going to work,” Theresa replied, sobbing. “What isn’t going to work?” “Telling other people about my problems,” she said. “I went to my fellowship group tonight and told them about the depression and the problems with Joey, and they really came down on me for being depressed and for all the other stuff that has been going on.” “What did they say?” “Well, they said that I shouldn’t feel that way and that if I was still having all those problems then I probably wasn’t walking with the Lord. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried all this ‘safe relationship’ stuff, sharing and all that, and now it doesn’t work.” “What would you say if I told you that you still haven’t found safe relationships?” I asked. “What do you mean?” Theresa asked. “They are all Christians and in my church.” “Well, Christian doesn’t automatically mean ‘safe,’ ” I told her. “Safe is defined by helpful. It doesn’t sound like tonight was too... Continue Reading »

The Disease of Self-Sufficiency

My (John) three-year-old son, Benny, is now firmly ensconced in the “I can do it!” stage of life. The other day we were getting ready to go out to dinner, and everybody was ready but Benny. He’d gotten all ready except for his pesky Velcro-strapped tennis shoes. They just wouldn’t cooperate. Being the helpful father (actually, the hurried father), I bent down to fasten his shoes for him. He quickly pushed my hands away, protesting, “I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” And he meant it. So we negotiated. I put him in the car and let him put the shoes on while we were driving to the restaurant. It was win-win. Now, Benny is in love with autonomy, task mastery, individuation, and a lot of other developmental aspects of his growth. He is working on self-sufficiency, especially in the functional, “doing” parts of life. But Benny’s self-sufficiency is a little different in the relational, “loving” areas of life. Instead of task mastery exhilaration (“Look, Ma! No hands!”), he is still dependent on attachment. He needs snuggles, holding, soothing, and comforting. He certainly disagrees a lot more, and he likes to spend more time away from his parents, but the need for... Continue Reading »