Leslie Vernick
March 31st, 2015                                                                                
What's New?
  • CORE Focus Class - Our special daytime Group starts Monday, April 13th and Monday, April 20th. More information click here
  • Walking In CORE Strength: Our special three (3) month group starts April 8th. More information click here
  • To All Our Pennsylvania Friends: Leslie will be speaking in the Lehigh Valley on Saturday April 11th for a morning session on "Lord, I Just Want To Be Happy". Pre-Register by calling Jordan UCC at 610.395.2218
  • For All People Helpers: Leslie will be speaking at the Desire Conference, April 18th, and it will be held in Clarks Summit, PA.
    Register Here.

 

 
 
 
Feedback

Are You Judging Correctly?

By Leslie Vernick
 

My husband and I were flying to Florida for a needed vacation. After we dragged ourselves through security we sat down to reassemble ourselves. Glancing up we observed an odd and troubling scene behind the airport information desk.

 

“Inappropriate!” I said.

 

“Weird” was the word my husband muttered as we watched a uniformed male employee repeatedly stroke a female employee’s face sitting in front of him.

 

“Is he giving her a facial massage?” My husband queried.

 

“No. I think he’s putting some sort of cream on her face.” I said.

 

We shamelessly stared. “There must be some rules against employees publically touching one another like that. Snap a picture with your cell phone,” I said.

 

We stood up to snap a picture and immediately saw things from an entirely different perspective. The woman was confined to a wheelchair. Her arms and hands useless, curled tightly at her sides. Her fellow employee was tenderly rubbing moisturizer or makeup into her parched skin.

 

My heart sank. How quick I was to jump to conclusions and to judge his actions as wrong. How naturally and automatically I made up a story about what I saw when in fact, I did not see clearly at all.  

 

At first glance this man’s behavior appeared unquestionably inappropriate. It was only when I saw things from a different vantage point did I discern that his actions were actually the opposite. They were kind, generous, and gracious. In the same way, Jesus repeatedly attempted to show the religious leaders of his day that everything wasn’t the way they thought it was.

 

Things are not so easily explained in terms of what they thought was lawful, or right and wrong. Perhaps they weren’t things as God would have them see.

 

For example, Rahab the prostitute was spared by Joshua because she protected the spies from being captured (by lying about which way they went) even though one of the Ten Commandments forbids us to bear false witness (see Joshua 6:25).

 

Jesus did not follow the Jewish law when the woman was caught in adultery as the crowd expected. Instead of sentencing her to death by stoning, he said “Whoever is without sin cast the first stone”

 

The Pharisees condemned Jesus as a lawbreaker when he healed on the Sabbath yet he challenged their deeply held beliefs by asking them, “Which one of you wouldn’t rescue a son or an ox on the Sabbath if they had fallen into a deep well?” (Luke 14:3-6).

 

Jesus taught that doing good, helping others, and loving well was more important to God than legalistic adherence to biblical law.

 

What does that mean to us? Every day you and I have the opportunity to peer into a small section of someone’s life-story like I did with the two airport employees. We make judgments and create stories (often untrue) of what we think we see. 

 

Other times people may invite us to look into their life to give them advice or biblical wisdom about what they’re doing (thinking or feeling). We then judge it as right or wrong, biblical or sinful, godly or worldly. 

 

At times I’ve been guilty of using the Bible as a rule book to find what God says is permissible and/or unacceptable. But even Jesus had exceptions to his laws and the laws of love, mercy, justice, and faithfulness always triumphed. As I listen to people’s stories I ask myself is there only one right biblical answer for every situation?

 

In closing, ask yourself some crucial questions when facing these kinds of dilemmas.  

 
1. What is the whole counsel of God on this matter, not just one or two verses?

 

2. What is the context? Not just the biblical context but also the client’s life story context. We can’t just take a single observation and make a judgment upon it. Just as I was very wrong in my initial assessment at the airport about what was truly happening, sometimes we can’t always discern what’s right and what’s wrong. Changing our vantage point might open our eyes to an entirely different perspective. 

 

3. What are the biblical exceptions? When were they permitted, or even sometimes commended? When the woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ head, the disciples judged it to be a waste of a valuable resource. Jesus thought otherwise and through this example, taught us that what seems right or even logical isn’t the only biblical way to make a good decision. Although what she did was extravagant Jesus said she’d always be remembered for her great love (Matthew 26:6-13).

 

In striving to be Christ-centered I am learning more and more that there is often more than one biblical answer. My job isn’t to judge or decide for another person what’s biblical or not. 

 

Perhaps the best thing we can do is help someone view his or her situation from different vantage points, (for example, temporal, eternal, short term, long term), talk about what God might be up to in her particular situation and how to listen to the Holy Spirit so that she can learn to walk by faith and not by sight.

 

How about you? Do you tend to be “the biblical answer person” instead of helping your friend learn to listen for God’s voice for herself?

 
 
 
Am I Making Up My Abuse?
 See Original Post

 

This week’s question: I just read your book about Emotionally Destructive Relationships. I’ve been feeling emotionally abused by my husband for the past 7 or 8 years. We’ve been to counseling to little avail. I am now on medication for depression. I’ve been taught that the only reason for divorce is adultery, so I’ve been feeling very stuck.


Almost every day I get a lecture about how I communicate and instructions on how I could have said things better, in a way that doesn’t push his buttons. I can’t be myself and I find myself guarded with what I say and always expecting a lecture. I try to let it slide off my back but it’s getting to me. I used to explode a lot when he said demeaning things and insulted my intelligence.

 

Now that I’m on the medication I can keep my emotions under control better, but I’m wondering if I should continue to put up with this. It affects our kids. They hear their father talking to their mother in very condescending tones and it’s not healthy. And sometimes they hear me sobbing or yelling when I can’t take it anymore.


Here are some of the phrases he uses with me:


“You didn’t bother to….”
“I don’t understand why you want to lose.”
“You are a very unique woman”
“I’m waiting for you to get your head out of the sand.”
“That isn’t very smart”
“You’re not paying attention”
“This does not bode well for getting good results.”


It’s not just the area of communication where he acts controlling. He doesn’t want me to make any decisions on my own. I can decide regular daily stuff, but anything new or different he demands he be consulted. He gets very upset if I circumvent his authority. Here are a few examples.


He got upset with me telling our daughter that she could go somewhere without consulting him about it first. I went to pick out new glasses after my prescription was filled without asking him first. I invited my parents to come take pictures of my daughter and her date for the prom without letting him know first.
Even though I apologize for these misunderstandings, he continues to bring them up and remind me of my failures.


He refuses to allow me to get on his computer, even though he’s had a problem with pornography. He gets upset if I move any of his stuff when I’m trying to clean up the house. Heaven forbid if I move any furniture without getting his approval first.


Are these things controlling and/or abusive or is this just every day common behavior that I’m taking too personally?


Answer: I’m so glad you asked. We’ve been talking about why it takes some women so long to recognize abusive behavior and because your husband’s putdowns are more subtle, they aren’t always recognized as abusive.


My definition of an emotionally destructive relationship is this: Pervasive and repetitive patterns of actions and attitudes that result in tearing someone down or inhibiting a person’s growth, often accompanied by a lack of awareness, lack of remorse and lack of change.

 

If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to take the test at the end of chapter 1 of The Emotionally Destructive Relationship or take the free test on Emotionally Destructive Marriages. Click here for the test.


In many of these kinds of relationships, you can’t point to one specific abusive episode of grossly sinful behavior to “prove” that the relationship destructive. That’s the hard part, especially when trying to get pastoral help or explain it to a counselor.


But you know deep within that the person you once were is dying and you don’t know how to live in a healthy way in this relationship any more. You mention that you used to explode in anger and now with antidepressants you keep your emotions better in check.


I’m glad you’re not exploding anymore. That’s not healthy for anyone. However, my concern for you is that by dulling your emotional pain, you’re not paying attention to your internal warning bell that’s telling you something is very wrong.


Here’s what I mean. When you break your ankle, the pain drives you to the doctor. That’s a good thing so that you get help for your problem (broken ankle) and then you can take the pain medication and get crutches while you heal you’re ankle. If you just took pain medication so that you don’t feel your ankle pain and then continued to walk on it, you would make your ankle worse.


In the same way, when you feel continual marital pain, you need to ask yourself what’s wrong. Pain motivates us to take some action, to get help in order to fix the problem. If you just mask the pain with medication, you won’t solve the problem and the problem can actually become worse.


You said counseling has been little help. You’re not alone in this. I think it’s very difficult to describe the kinds of abuse that this kind of relationship entails. It’s also very hard for counselors to grasp. Much of what your husband asks of you sounds so reasonable.


For example, it’s normal (not controlling) for husband’s (and wives) to want to be included in decisions regarding where the children go, money spent (especially if the budget is tight), and in laws visiting. I’m guessing the problem is deeper than just a lack of information (in that you failed to inform him). But rather, he feels that it’s his right as the head of his home to decide the final outcome.


What happens when you do talk with him about these things and you have a difference of opinion? How do you resolve these disagreements? From the phrases he uses, it sounds like he has a very strong sense of win/lose in problem solving rather than mutual consideration, respect, and compromise. He believes that his authority entitles him to always have the final say.


But for you dear one, take heart. There is a God who see’s you and who knows what you are going through. There is a God who hates abuse and warns husband’s not to treat their wives harshly.

 

Right now if all you can work on is you and not your marriage, start there. Deal with your depression and anger. Do what you need to do to learn how to communicate in a strong and firm way that you will not engage in conversations that are disrespectful and demeaning anymore.

 

It is only from a position of wholeness can you then invite your husband into healthy change and make good decisions for you and your children.

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IN THIS ISSUE
 
ARTICLE

Are You Judging Correctly?

 

COACHING 
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WHAT'S NEW? 
Take a look at the upcoming events to watch for from Leslie
 
BOOK GIVEAWAY 
Forging A Strong-Mother Daughter Bond
 
LESLIE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
Am I Making Up My Abuse?
 
 
COACHING INFORMATION
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Coaching Programs

 
 
BOOK GIVEAWAY
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Forging a Strong Mother-Daughter Bond
by
Leslie Vernick


Moms want to be close to their daughters. Daughters (for the most part) want a good relationship with their moms. But when that relationship is strained by one persons attempt to control and manipulate, closeness is replaced by hurt, disappointment, anger, and fear.

 

Leslie Vernick shares two stories of moms and daughters who learned how to move beyond the cycle of manipulation and control and give and share love honestly and without fear. By revealing how Christ calls and empowers us to love, she offers hope and practical help in breaking these destructive patterns of relating.

 

"I really like this author's approach to marriage relationship counsel so I wanted to read this book. It is short and sweet but gets right to the point of dysfunctional relationships.

 

I will be sharing this with my adult daughter. Highly recommend this book if you are looking for practical, down-to-earth answers and a brief format. The author's other books and CD/DVD's should fill in if you need more. Great to share with young adult children who may not have time to sit and read a whole longer book."

 

- DLG

 

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

 

The Winners of 12 Smart Choices For Finding The Right Guy by Georgia Shaffer are Teresa S. & Sherry H.

 
 
 
UPCOMING EVENTS
 

April 11, 2015
Leslie will be speaking in the Lehigh Valley on Saturday April 11th for a morning session on "Lord, I Just Want To Be Happy". nbsp;Pre-Register by calling Jordan UCC at 610.395.2218
 
April 18, 2015
Desire Conference
Clarks Summit, PA
Register Here.

 

May 22, 2015

NCBA Conference

7 PM - 9 PM

Lancaster, PA

 
 
HERE'S WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT LESLIE'S COACHING
 

"Underneath massive changes have been taking place in my life and more importantly in my understanding of the problems and limitations within which I am functioning. You have helped me tremendously to see more clearly where I have obstacles over which I must overcome, both, internally and externally.


Considering my circumstances, I cannot have imagined anyone else who could have helped me in the way you have helped me. Your coaching, encouragement, wisdom, insight, perspective and prayer have been an answer to prayer for me. Thank you." 

 

-Tom

 
 
LESLIE WELCOMES YOUR QUESTIONS
 

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.


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