Caring for the Heart Series (Part 5): In Conclusion – Seeking Help
(this is a continuation of Part 4: Doing the Work)
Criticisms of Psychology vs Spirituality
For anyone who criticized me about this method of spiritual counselling as undermining the power of preaching-ministry, message tapes, prayer, faith and the wisdom of scripture, I simply considered how much energy people in churches spend covering, hiding, struggling to overcome, repenting, praying – and self-loathing. I just have to recall the types of confessions I received AFTER I began helping people in this manner, and understand why they couldn’t disclose these issues of abuse to their pastors. There is something about the ministry of the message that does not welcome full disclosure. I stood in too many prayer lines, had too many conversations with people buried in pain to know that something more was needed.
I do consider Caring for the Heart to be psychology. It deals very specifically with the human psyche. So does all “preaching”; you are appealing to human behavior by pressing upon manner of thought. The intention of Caring for the Heart was not to do anything more than radically, unreservedly care for the heart of another human — and seek to bring freedom to a state of inner turmoil. The criticisms I weathered were no more effective then telling me I should be ashamed for being a good Samaritan.
To The Message Pastor
If you are a message minister reading this, by all means, look to scripture and pray. But also – as a manner of practice, set your ecclesiastical robes aside, put down your sword, let go of your pride and pretenses of godliness, and learn to REALLY care and listen.
If you want to hear what is really going on in the hearts of your congregation – the girl who got an abortion, the woman who was stood against the wall to be shamed by her father, the young person who doesn’t want to go home from youth camp because of how their father abuses their mom, the deacon who is ravaged by pornography, the incestual-abuse of family – then stop being so revelated and high-minded. Kneel in the mud and stay there.
Conclusion: To Anyone Who Needs Help
It was – and remains – my contention that The Message severely lacks the means to REALLY help people. It brings conformity and pulls people in line. However, it’s an impersonal act to merely offer a scripture, a sermon, a quote from ‘the prophet’ and a lofty prayer – and expect there to be a miraculous healing of the heart to the ‘core’, and bring a real affectual change where rubber-meets-road.
It became offensive to me to know there were so many instances of abuse and neglect sitting in the congregations, and yet, there was such a strong aversion to doing anything more than offer canned-message rituals.
If I could implore any message believer who has lived a life of emotional suffering – do not be afraid to seek help beyond your pastor. Caring For the Heart was one mode of help I encountered, but it’s not the only one. Seeking professional help from a psychologist, from a counsellor, from a different pastor who exhibits more care and ability to connect than your own; all of these things should be acceptable and require no “permission”.
If your personal well-being is such that you:
- feel depressed
- suffer past/ongoing emotional trauma
- feel incapable of opening, connecting or communicating
- feel overwhelmed with bitterness, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety
- feel isolated and alone
- cannot disclose a past of sexual, physical, spiritual abuse against you
- feel abusive to your own spouse or children
- feel trapped and hopeless
- or any other type of emotional distress and frustration
…do what you need to do for help.
Don’t feel bad for needing or wanted more assistance than what you’ve found in your church. Reach out beyond what you’ve been told is permissible by your church. You deserve more and better; and I believe there is hope and freedom for you. This is not a plea to leave the message; this is an act of care towards another human who’s life and purpose has value.