for a Destructive Person to Become Healthy

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What's New:

  • Move it Move it January! Our Conquer Support Group has been doing a Movement Challenge for the month of January. Our challenge is to do one minute more of walking or stretching each day. Or one more rep of a regularly done exercise or a new one, to build more strength. Leslie is doing one more man's push up each day. So far, she's on 20 each day (not in a row).

Necessary Changes

for a Destructive Person to Become Healthy

by Leslie Vernick

The Bible tells a story of a man, Naaman, a mighty warrior and a commander in the King of Aram’s army, yet he was plagued with leprosy. Through a captured young slave, Naaman heard of a prophet in Israel who might be able to heal him.

When Naaman approached Elisha for help he arrogantly assumed his healing would come easily and fast. The prophet Elisha didn’t even open his door to talk with Naaman. Instead, he told him what to do if he wanted to be healed. He said, “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River and your skin will be restored.”

Insulted and outraged, Naaman stalked away. Naaman had expectations for how his healing should happen. He said, “I thought Elisha would certainly come out to meet me! I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me. Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana, and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” Naaman left in a rage. Later his officers tried to reason with him and eventually, Naaman complied with what Elisha told him to do. Only then his leprosy left him (See 2 Kings 5).

This story reminds me of how destructive individuals sometimes ask for help and healing, but aren’t ready or willing to do the work. They expect it to be fast and easy. They want it their way. Like Naaman, they want to be in charge and are outraged and insulted that someone would expect them to actually submit to a higher authority for help. Yet it wasn’t until Naaman submitted himself to Elisha’s treatment plan, was he healed.

Based on this story, there are seven dips of healing if you want to be changed from a destructive individual to a healthy one.

Dip #1. You need to learn to submit to others instead of always demanding your own way. This involves giving up control, putting yourself under another’s authority─the group, the church, the counselor, the law.

Dip #2. You need improved skills in communicating and problem-solving. You have relied on your own power to control, manipulate and deceive others. Now you must learn new ways of sharing power, cooperating, making joint decisions, and mutual submission.

Dip #3. You need to learn how to identify and appropriately express your feelings without abuse, intimidation, deceit, or manipulation.

Dip #4. You need to learn how to allow your spouse to be separate and say no to you. You must grow comfortable in allowing her to disagree with you without labeling it disrespectful, getting enraged, or feeling terrified of abandonment.

Dip #5. You must learn how to speak directly about what you feel and what you need and trust others are there and care, even if your needs don’t always come first or always get met.

Dip #6. You must learn how to manage your negative emotions without abuse. Healthy relationships are still disappointing at times. Human love is never enough to fill your tank endlessly. You must let God be God to you instead of trying to be god for your spouse.

Dip #7. You need to learn to trust God to meet your needs as well as learn to take the initiative and responsibility to meet your own needs rather than demanding that another person always do so. Your spouse is not responsible to make you happy or make sure you always feel good.

These changes take commitment, consistent effort, a supportive community, and accountability over time to heal so that they become habitual. Paul tells us to put off our old selves and to put on our new selves, created to be like Christ. (See Ephesians 4:22-5:1 to read what this looks like.)

Promises to change are not the same as doing the work to change. John the Baptist tells the religious leaders, “Prove by the way that you live that you have repented of your sin and turned to God.” Luke 3:8.

If you’ve been habitually destructive or abusive, don’t expect instant trust or reconciliation from others. You have harmed someone by your repeated hurtful behaviors. If you are truly sorry, work on yourself and give the other person the time and space to heal. When they see your consistent changes over time, then and only then can they consider reconciliation by rebuilding broken trust.


Is It Abuse?

by Darby Strickland

For years, biblical counselor Darby Strickland has served women in oppressive marriages. Now she writes to anyone who wants to help, regardless of their level of experience. You will learn how to identify the toxic entitlement that drives abusive behavior and to better understand its impact on victims — including children who are raised in a home with domestic abuse. Ultimately, you will become equipped to provide wise and Christ-centered counsel and to empower and advocate for victims while navigating the complex dynamics of oppression in a marriage.

Two winners will be selected in our next newsletter! (Giveaway only available to U.S. residents)

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.

The winners of “Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy” by Leslie Vernick are Moeybird T. and Ember O.



Want to have Leslie speak at your event?
Click here to find out more information.

March 19th – 20th, 2021
Dallas, TX

Call to Peace Ministry Retreat
May 13 – 16th. 2021
Asheville, NC

The Village Church
December 3rd
Flowermound, TX

Lighthouse Christian Church
Date TBA
Rosemount, Minnesota

Center for Christian Counseling
Date TBA
Madison, WI

When Is It Biblical Abandonment?

Question: At what point when a husband feigns fights that result in lengthy and innumerable separations with ABSOLUTELY no contact, do I consider it ‘abandonment’ and file for divorce?

When I mention divorce, he says he doesn’t want a divorce; however, his actions are not commensurate with his behavior (stonewalling) the last 10 years of marriage. PLEASE HELP.

Answer: I’m going to respond to your question because it’s a very typical question I receive where you already know the answer, but you’re afraid to take action on it. You ask others so that you can gain validation or confidence and that’s fine, but you are still the one who will need to take action.

Your husband does not want a divorce he says. But what does he want? And what do you want? That’s the question. And is he (and are you) willing to take action to make that happen?

Wanting something isn’t enough. I may want to get in shape or change jobs or read my Bible through in a year or save more money. There is nothing wrong with my wants, but they will not become a reality unless I take action steps towards doing what’s required to get what I want.

Your husband says he wants a good marriage, but then avoids dealing with problems or conflicts and runs away or stonewalls. It’s like a smoker saying, “I don’t want to get lung cancer.” Of course, he doesn’t, but is he willing to stop a habit that will make getting lung cancer more likely?

You want the same thing but you can’t make a relationship work with someone who doesn’t want to take actions in line with healthy relationship patterns.

There is one word in your question that caught my attention.

What People Are Saying About Leslie’s Equip Support Group for Professionals and People Helpers

Leslie and Chris are a dynamic duo that complement each other and offer a variety of teaching and sharing styles. The combination of using instruction, examples, videos, illustrations, and exercises involves the participant and facilitates engagement with the truths presented.

Both presenters candidly share what they have learned through their years of experience as well as their expertise without hesitation, even when it exposes their own vulnerability. Equip reveals how one can detect a destructive relationship, how to assist both the victim and the abuser who have a desire to change, and why couple therapy alone will not work. Leslie and Chris model excellence in their pursuit of serving others from a Christian perspective.

~ Dara M. Stockton, M.A., LMFT, LPC


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.


Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States