Not What I Expected

A common reason people come to counseling is “relationship distress.”  Relationship distress is the grief that accompanies a relationship that doesn’t meet your personal expectations.

The types of relationship can vary, but usually they surround one’s parents, siblings, children, or in-laws; someone through either birth or marriage you did not get to choose. 

Since I am a human, and live on the same planet as my clients, I am not immune to relationship distress.  This is actually helpful because it allows me to empathize, and more importantly, it gives me the opportunity to practice the same skills I give my clients on a daily basis. 

Recently, I encountered a situation in which a relationship was (once again) just not what I hoped it to be.  I spent the day after the encounter completely consumed by the grief of what I wished the relationship would have been.  I was grieving the closeness I desired in that particular relationship. I was jealous of other people who enjoy what I feel I’m missing out on. 

In mulling through this situation, I wanted to share some insight regarding navigating relationship distress.

Practice Acceptance

When a relationship doesn’t meet your expectations, rather than continually becoming upset; practice acceptance.  We have little control over the actions of others.  When a person behaves a way that is consistent with their behavior over a long period of time, it is unreasonable to expect that behavior to change and unfair for you to expect that person’s behavior to change. 

If you do not accept the behavior, then you will find yourself continually grieving the loss of something that will never be, which creates an internal angst that can come to control you.  While it is important to grieve the loss, it is unhealthy to grieve it over and over again. 

Don’t Compare

Through social media, a conversation, or an observation, we often see others enjoying a relationship with a significant person in their life and become jealous or sad. 

When you find yourself comparing your relationship with your mom/dad/in-law/sibling/child:

  • Catch yourself in the act.
  • Acknowledge the futility of the thought.
  • Redirect your thinking. 
  • Lastly, think about the great relationships you do have. And/or say a prayer, and move on. 

Forgiveness doesn’t always mean Reconciliation

Forgiveness is intentionally changing your negative feelings towards a person and not seeking revenge. One common cognitive distortion people carry, especially Christians, is that forgiving someone for their behavior equates with reconciliation.   

Reconciliation is the act of restoring a relationship. As Christians, we are absolutely to practice forgiveness. Two of the ways we can express relational forgiveness are through acceptance and releasing comparisons.

In some cases, reconciliation is viable. But if after 25 years you are still trying to reconcile a relationship, it might be time to stop in order to protect yourself from future hurts.   

Don’t Personalize

Take an inventory. See what role you might have played. Acknowledge when necessary. Apologize if necessary. Move on. 

Allowing anyone to make you feel as though you are not good enough is not OK and can make you vulnerable to manipulation by a person who likely is not concerned for your well-being. 

Most of the time their behavior has nothing to do with you. The behavior causing you relationship distress can be caused by past hurts and insecurities that are beyond your control.  Stepping out of the situation (and your feelings surrounding the situation) will allow you to recognize the behavior isn’t about you. 

Not personalizing also has a side benefit of creating compassion and empathy. It’s hard to be angry at or hurt by a person for whom you feel compassion.

Your Expectations are not their Responsibility 

Up until this point, perhaps you were on board with the steps for eliminating relationship distress. I’m going to lose a lot of people here because this step requires personal accountability. I know all too well how hard that can be. 

Perhaps your expectations are too much. Perhaps your expectations are unrealistic. Perhaps your expectations are impossible to achieve because of how God uniquely created both you and the other person. 

Expecting another person to fulfill your expectations in order to make you happy or content in a relationship is unrealistic and you are setting yourself up for failure. 

Just as it is unrealistic for others to expect more of us than we are capable, it is equally unrealistic for us to do the same to others. 

Will practicing these habits make the hurt completely go away? 

Unfortunately no; it still isn’t fair that the relationship isn’t how it is supposed to be.  However, practicing these habits will over time ease the pain of the hurt and create some empathy and compassion for the other person. 

It is a practice, and with any new behavior it will take time and repetition. 

Accept. Don’t compare. Forgive. Don’t personalize. Then move on with the humility of knowing that you too might not be meeting someone’s expectations and causing them relationship distress.

4 Sexual Injustices for Women in the Church

My husband recently asked me to write down some examples of injustices woman face in relation to sexuality in preparation for a sermon he was going to give on John 8.  The chapter is titled The Woman Caught in Adultery.

The woman in this story was found to be having an affair.  As the law at that time dictated, she was to be brought to temple and stoned by the people.  Jesus happened to be in the crowd and the religious leaders saw this as an opportune time to trap him into saying something they could use against him later, but Jesus turned them all on their heels when he said the famous verse  “Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone.” 

My husband, for the first time in his life, noticed that the man she had an affair with, also making him an adulterer, was not present to be punished for his crime.  As a woman, this is an injustice that I notice every single time I read this story.  It’s something that I understand and know to be true in regards to injustices woman faced then and continue to face now regarding their sexuality.  

As I was taking the kids to school this morning, I was trying to compile all the injustices in my head so I could send my husband some examples.  I was thinking about all of the messages I heard when I was younger and still continue to hear to this day not only from the church but from my friend’s moms, friends, and the culture in general.  I found my stomach getting very tense and started getting really irritable with everyone in the car.  It’s crazy how those messages affected me then and still affect me now.  

I can remember in my youth that virginity was very important to me.   It wasn’t necessarily important to me because I valued myself as it should have been. It was important to me because if I ever wanted to land a suitable mate I must remain pure for that person.  Plus girls who had sex, even once, were called whores, hoes, sluts etc. I’m not sure what the boy name equivalent to that is, oh yes, that’s right, I don’t know one because there isn’t one, which leads to the first injustice …  

Girls who have sex are demonized.  Boys who have sex are glorified.  

Boys are called “studs” and are taught to be proud of their conquests, meanwhile girls are taught they are damaged goods after one sexual encounter.  I heard from countless friend’s moms that boys like to have fun with the promiscuous girls, but like to settle down with virgins.  How messed up is that?  Not only am I supposed to remain a virgin, but I am supposed to be totally cool with my husband not being one.  

Girls bear the responsibility for whether or not sex occurs.  

We are taught we must be modest in all appearances because it is our responsibility not to tempt the boys.  We are in essence teaching our girls that men are wild beasts that can’t control their sexual desires and shouldn’t be required to, therefore we must cover ourselves, not flirt, and repress any sexuality because it is solely our responsibility to keep the boys from looking.  Meanwhile boys get to stroll around shirtless when they are hot because woman should have self-control over their sexual desires. I heard countless times that the girl was ultimately responsible in a relationship for saying no to sex before marriage because it is physically impossible for a boy to resist that urge.

Boys will be boys.  

Meaning, it is totally socially acceptable for boys to talk about woman, what they look like, what they have done with them, and how they grabbed a person’s genitalia.  It’s just what guys do, how can you expect anything different.  There is no accountability from men in respecting a woman through their long inappropriate up and down stares at us, when they say things like “you’d look great in a Hooters outfit” to us, or in what they say to each other about us in the locker room.  

Once you are a married woman, it is your sole responsibility to keep your husband “satisfied”.  

If you aren’t capable of doing this, then don’t let it surprise you when they look at pornography or have affairs, because men have needs and if you aren’t going to meet them, well, that is just the consequence of how you lack as a wife.  

I could go on and on and on, but again, I’m feeling my blood pressure rise and not feeling well just thinking about it. I will end with this.  The thing that infuriates me the most about the injustice in all of this is that culture has robbed woman of something that is supposed to be a gift from God.  My guess is you will be hard pressed to find a woman who doesn’t associate sex with guilt and shame.  We have been taught that sex and sexual desires are unnatural and something to be avoided and the pleasure in it is reserved for men.  When we finally get married and are allowed to do it, we are taught that we have to do it in order to protect our marriage.  

This message is a recipe for disaster. Repress, repress, repress, (SHAME). Meet someone else’s needs in order to not lose them (GUILT).

None of this is what God intended when he gave us the gift of sexuality.  The gift was to be a physical, mutually satisfying expression of love between a husband and wife,  yet once again, we humans went and messed it up.  

Ex-Mormon Turned Pastor Responds to Letter from the Mormon Church to be Truthful about What Church He Actually Belongs To

I grew up Mormon, and left the church while in college. Many years later I found Jesus (or Jesus found me) and today I pastor a small church my family helped start in SWFL. Recently I received a letter from the Mormon Church instructing me to “be truthful by telling others that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints“.

Well — I want to obviously be truthful. So below is both the letter I received from the Mormon church, and my full and detailed response.

The Major Thing

The death of George HW Bush has caused me to reflect on what really matters to my children and others at the end of life.  As I was watching the eulogy given by his son George W Bush, I made a mental note of what actually mattered to George W at the end of his father’s life and what things had made him a better, well-adjusted adult.  

Don’t Lift Alone

Something has been going through my (Scott’s) mind this morning as I leave the gym and begin the transition for work. I feel inadequate in posting items about faith because there are days I feel like a hypocrite, especially in what I’m about to talk about. But if I have learned something time and time again it’s that if God puts a thought or idea on your heart over and over again that it’s worth sharing – so here goes…

Compassionate Friends Fort Myers Chapter

When a child dies, at any age, the family suffers intense pain and may feel hopeless and isolated.   Refuge.Church is starting a Compassionate Friends chapter in Fort Myers to provide personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild, and to help others better assist the grieving family.

The secret of The Compassionate Friends success is simple: As seasoned grievers reach out to the newly bereaved, energy that has been directed inward begins to flow outward and both are helped to heal.  We call this bi-directional healing.

Samson Society

What is a Samson Society?

The Samson Society is a parachurch evangelical men’s ministry for those who are serious about authenticity, community, humility, and recovery.

The goal is to promote personal behavior changes in whatever area of life a man struggle’s.  We do this by assisting one another in our common journey through honestly sharing our own personal experiences and the challenges and encouragements of daily Christian living in a fallen world.

How are Samson Society meetings held?

Samson Society is an informal group of men 18+ that meet weekly on Tuesday nights at 7pm in the Refuge Youth room.

The purpose of this Tuesday night group is to allow a safe space for men to be honest about struggles they may be going through.

A typical meeting consists of open discussion and time of prayer.  Samson Society is a non-judgmental zone to facilitate the honesty and vulnerability that is needed for growth and recovery.

Whether you’re trying to kick a nasty habit, be a better husband, father or son; we at this Tuesday night group are here for you and will come along beside you in prayer and action.

Life was not meant to be done alone.

For more info contact:  Scott Morrison

Eating Junk Food

My middle child Presley has always been kind of sickly. You wouldn’t expect such a big personality out of her tiny little frame. You know the saying “if momma isn’t happy, nobody is happy”? In our house the saying is “if Presley isn’t happy, nobody is happy”. This personality spills into her food intake, or lack thereof. The kid is very picky and doesn’t really like to eat food in general unless it is candy. This lack of food consumption, leads to her perpetual state of sickliness. No nourishment means a greater susceptibility to sickness.