Shedding Light in the Dark Night of a Forced Termination
It is almost impossible for anyone to go through a forced resignation, the loss of one’s livelihood, the rejection by people to whom one gave one’s life, without feeling some depression.
This can show up physically in degrees of anxiety, aches and pains, loss of appetite, and lack of sleep.
Depression also reveals itself in the anger, guilt, and self-blame for what has happened.
Yet, our “fix-it” society encourages those who hurt to accept feelings they really are not feeling as a way to “fix” the problem.
Feelings of depression are not like a broken leg that simply can be set with a cast and sent back to work.
Ann Kaiser Stearns describes the patience and friendship needed in cases like this: “Like a musty blanket, feelings require sunlight, day after day, until the fresh air has finally cleared the cold dampness away.”
The “sunlight” comes with telling one’s story–to deal with the anger and guilt.
Some counselors have suggested that one needs to tell the story at least three to five times for healing to begin.
Others have used a figure ten times that.
The point is that talking to someone is vital.
Many ministers have a ministers “support group with whom to share, to talk, to listen, and to pray about the trials and tribulations of one’s ministry.”
Tragically, friendship in times of forced resignation is often difficult, if not impossible, to come by.
The Center for Lifelong Learning’s Healthy Transitions Retreat for Clergy and Spouses provides a safe and structured setting and opportunity for telling your story so the healing may begin after the trauma of a forced resignation.
The cost is only $100 per person or $150 per couple.
Or, if you know a ministry colleague who can benefit from this experience, please encourage them to participate.
Adapted from James Bruce Lancaster, From Whence Comes Help: The Church’s Ministry to Ministers Going Through Forced Termination.