So I talked with one of my employers today.  I was as honest as I thought I could be, shared honest doubts and questions.  I avoided the “A” word.  This guy is a friend of mine, he recommended counseling before leaving the job.  I was originally against the idea but he gave a secondary reason.  In a community like ours, there will be people quite upset that I just up an quit.  Even “if” I don’t change my mind, he said it would allow people time to process and would appear better if I said “I’ve been to counseling over this”.  Basically it’ll help me leave without pissing too many people off.  Since I still don’t have a job lined up, I’m going to have to take that suggestion.  “K” agreed with was the best way to go at this time.

Looks like I’ll still have a job for at least a month.


16 thoughts on “Delayed

  1. Yes, counseling sounds like a great idea as long as you keep your job and benefits in the meantime.

    I don’t know who is going to do the counseling, where and what their qualifications are. But I advice a very editorialized version of reality. Go in assuming that anything you say can and will be used against you.

    At the same time, stretch it as long as you can. Stretch the frequency of the appointments. If they are going to be weekly, make them bi-weekly. If Bi-weekly, make them monthly. Whenever you can get away with it, and with plenty of advance notice, postpone the next appointment.

    If asked why, say “personal reasons” if they push, say you needed more time to think about it.

    If nothing else, this will be a big, Olympic sized “screw You” for you know who. She’ll be sitting there waiting for the big blow up to happen any minute, blood dripping from her fangs into her elaborately embroidered white blouse, and nothing happens for days, then weeks, maybe even months.

    Meanwhile, that may give you a chance to write a few sermon about how uncomfortable hell is for those that their friends in the back. That is assuming she is coming to church. If she is not, she better have a very good reason for not showing up. In fact, I’d pay a personal visit, with a very large container marked Tithing” that you can leave on the coffee table while you recount to her all the sermons she has missed.

    Also, I am sure there is some fake “666” tattoo you can wear at the base of your neck so you can just let her see it and then remove immediately. Maybe a tattoo like decal would work best so you can remove it more quickly. And bring some sulfur scent if you can find it.

    OK, maybe I am going off the deep end, but it would be so much fun to drive this woman crazy.


    • Heh, she’s sounds so toxic and awful that I’m sure she’ll do an outstanding job of driving HERSELF crazy with no help at all! If she can’t stand it and starts blabbing, John, I’d avoid ANY communication with or about her. You and your wife can recruit a crew of allies to counteract her gossiping by telling everyone she’s spreading malicious gossip and rumors about a beloved pastor at a very difficult time in his life, when what he really needs is the love and support of his friends and flock.


  2. Might I suggest looking into when looking for your therapist (if they allow you to choose yourself)? This way, you can find one that won’t be overtly religious, but as this is kinda a “secret” project, they won’t know that the therapist isn’t religious.


    • Yes, this. I found a great therapist thru here. Also, I am a therapist myself. Do not authorize your therapist to release any information from your sessions. They are confidential information and it is unethical for them to do so and they can lose their license if they do. I say a minimum of three months of weekly sessions is minimum for you here. This is within the industry standard for most therapy (12 weeks) and will of course take longer if you have to miss a week. I’d mention 16 sessions as your baseline if anyone who is in a need to know position asks.


  3. Be careful with this. Unless you get to pick your therapist, it might be prudent to assume that anything you say to them can and will be used to fire you and reduce your severance package. Perhaps I’m being overly paranoid, but until you’re done with the job, I wouldn’t trust anyone your employers send your way.


  4. Yes, it may be the right thing to do. Sure, it’s giving in somewhat, but I agree the community will respond better with time to adjust and some assurance that you thought this through. I also agree that it would be better to keep your job longer.

    The interesting thing that comes to mind is whether you will be able to get something useful out of your time with a therapist. You might be glad you got the opportunity. However, you will probably be expected to go to a Christian therapist, which might get contentious and not fun. If you get a secular therapist, your quest to assuage the congregation will be compromised. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.


    • I disagree. Going outside the community is standard for pastors. By including burnout and depression as additional reasons, it’s perfectly valid to choose a secular counselor. Besides, secular counselor does not mean non-believer. It just means they approach it from a clinical perspective. However, another reason to go to a secular counselor away from the community is to avoid running into church members that have bee referred out locally. This is to protect them and their confidentiality as well as his. 😉


  5. Honestly I think you’ll have the job for more than a month. It takes a few months for the full counselling sessions. Not a bad thing if you ask me, and does allow you to leave on a sweeter note.

    For myself, I gave notice to the church that I was leaving in 6 mths time, and almost all the senior leaders knew that I was the dirty “A”. Funny thing is they were still letting me continue my capacity of the head of the young adult ministry. I guess relationships trump God’s covenants, and I think the same will most likely apply to you as well.


  6. John: I agree with those who are saying this is actually good news. I’m sure it won’t be a fun experience, but as powellpowers says above, practical and bureaucratic realities mean this will probably give you more like 2-3 months to keep the job search going full steam.

    But I also agree with those who caution you to watch your words carefully. Share honest doubts and questions and whatever you honestly can; but continue to omit things like the “A” word, or any indication that you’ve come to a final conclusion about your faith. As someone who has been in the closet for years, I know this may wear on your integrity — it does mine. But my opinion is that supporting your family is more than enough reason to withhold and omit certain things.

    I hope the best for you in the next few months! There are many here (including me) who care very much how this turns out for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is good news! It keeps you employed for a while, and you get therapy, which clearly can’t hurt. Definitely choose a secular, licensed therapist, and ask about confidentiality! Do anything at all that you can to avoid going to a “Christian Counselor” who may or may not be licensed, and may be worse than useless if you discuss your loss of faith.

    The good thing is, you get free therapy from a neutral third party. That’s WONDERFUL. You have been under enormous stress, and having someone to talk with/vent at about still working when you no longer believe might be a great relief and even helpful.

    Plus there are the financial benefits of staying employed as long as you can.

    We’re here, rooting for you!


  8. John: Tough situation. I agree with the rest that this counselling option is actually a great option as long as you can stomach to do church services (or perhaps they would give you a break from that too).

    From my experience right now, being outed as well, it really helps them to know I have counselling (marriage counseling) and I am having talks with my ‘leader’ here as well. Sometimes he says very weird stuff (such as I want to be an atheist so I can watch porn!) but other times I seem to be able to sow my seeds of realism into his heart as well. I can just tell it is truly a unique experience for people to talk to an atheist who is so well versed in Christianity and knows all the arguments inside out.

    Why am I saying this? Just in case they force you to go with a licensed christian therapist, you may actually find yourself enjoying explaining your reasons for atheism.

    What also helps is that I have a deadline in December for when I will leave anyway. When they raised trouble, my argument now was: “hey, I am leaving in 4 months anyway, what is all the fuss?”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. i think everyone should be required to go to therapy at least once. we all have issues, they’re different for everyone. helps to talk to someone , sort things out with a non-partisan

    Liked by 1 person

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