Archive for July, 2011

How to Start a Difficult Conversation

I frequently counsel couples who have a hard time starting difficult conversations. It is not always because they have a track record of doing these conversations poorly. Frequently, these couples (or at least one member of the couple) are just painfully adverse to conflict.

This post is going to assume that a couple has a decent history of resolving difficult conversations well once they are initiated.

The question becomes, “How do we overcome this obstacle so that emotions do not build, while we wrestle with whether to say something, to the point that potentially good conversations don’t go bad? How can we save ourselves the emotional turmoil of waiting even when the end product is a good conversation? How do we get started?”

What I will offer is a highly practical answer. There is a problem with highly practical answers. They come across as cookie-cutter solutions and cause people to believe the remedy is in following the recipe. Such solutions can also come across a bit cheesy and have a propensity to be relatively personality-dependant.

With all that said I will still offer a highly practical answer and simply ask that you not turn it into a rule to follow. Be creative with it. Make it your own. Find a way to express the principle in your personality and as fits your marriage.

Here is my proposal. Give your spouse paper on which to write his/her concern. At the top of the page write (in your own words):

If you have picked up this piece of paper,
then I want you to know I love you and want to hear you.
I pray regularly for you to have the courage to come to me when you are hurt,
and I pray I will listen well and hear your concerns.
I trust you to bring things to me you believe are important,
and want you to know they are important to me if they are to you.

Sign under your note, but leave the rest of the page blank for your spouse to write his/her concerns. Once this piece of paper is received the spouse would know it is a time to listen well and would be less likely to interpret the subject as an attack or treat the subject as trivial.

Now you might say, “That is helpful, but where is the Bible or the Gospel in this type of exercise?” That would be a very good and worthwhile question. I believe in this type of exchange the first spouse is to love his/her spouse as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25).

This is a model of the invitation God gives to all his people in prayer. We have an open invitation to come to Him with any concern at any time with no fear of being turned away or dismissed. Too often we miss the fact that communication in marriage should resemble (be modeled after) prayer. We often say that prayer is simply “talking with God” but we fail to learn from this connection when it comes to communication in the relationship that our prayer life is to exemplify.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Communication” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Marriage” post which address other facets of this subject.

Book Review: Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault by Justin S. Holcomb and Lindsey A. Holcomb.

You cannot judge book by its cover, but you can begin to learn a lot from its opening statements. In this book, the Holcombs begin the first chapter by saying, “If you have suffered as the result of sexual assault, this book is written to you and for you – not about you. What happened to you was not your fault… You should not be silenced… You do not have to pretend like nothing happened (p. 15).”

These statements speak to the common fears and lies associated with sexual abuse. The authors begin where their readers begin. They know and care deeply about their audience. While many biblical counseling books discuss sin more than suffering and emphasize prescription over description, this book digresses from that trend.

As with any book worth reading on sexual abuse, this book is hard to read. It speaks of stories that most of us would prefer to never think about. The words of Amy Carmichael are worth considering to remind us why a book like this can be both disturbing and edifying, “Those who know the truth of these things will know that we have understated it, carefully toned it down perforce, because it cannot be written in full. It could neither be published or read… but oh, it had to be lived! And what you may not even hear, had to be endured by little girls (p. 228 in Things As They Are).”

In the first section of the book, the Holcombs use the category of “disgrace” to capture the essence and explain the effects of sexual abuse. The vividness of their authorship does an excellent job of displaying how this category serves to capture the experience of sexual abuse while, at the same time, preparing the reader to understand God’s grace as essential to the healing process.

In the opening chapter, the Holcombs seek to capture the contrast of disgrace and grace:

Disgrace is the opposite of grace… Disgrace destroys, causes pain, deforms, and wounds… Disgrace makes you feel worthless, rejected, unwanted, and repulsive… To your sense of disgrace, God restores, heals, and re-creates through grace. A good short definition of grace is ‘one-way love.’ This is the opposite of your experience of assault, which is ‘one-way violence’ (p. 15).”

The second and third chapters do an excellent job of defining sexual abuse, describing the impact of sexual abuse, and summarizing the key research on the subject. At this point the reader gains great confidence that the author knows me (if he/she has experienced sexual abuse) and that the authors have invested their lives in knowing my struggle. For a reader who has been silenced for most of his/her life and likely spent the rest of it hiding, those are powerfully important messages.

Chapters four through nine seek to capture six experiences of sexual abuse: denial, distorted self-image, shame, guilt, anger, and despair. Each chapter is introduced with a four to five page case study that sets up the discussion of each struggle.

This section begins to speak slightly more at a counselor’s level than a counselee’s. The description of the experience, discussion of alternative explanations, theological insight, and application are excellent. However, there are two aspects that (for this reviewer) make this book more valuable for the counselor.

First, the depth of empirical research and theological discussion may lose a reader who is overwhelmed by their initial experience(s) of abuse and the post-trauma that emerges from considering the subject again. Because of this, a strength of the book may get it caught between audiences (counselor and counselee).

If giving this book to a counselee, the counselor may want to offer the following points of advice:

  1. Read the book slowly. You may have a spike in emotional disturbances as you read a book on sexual abuse. This is normal, but can be alleviated by not trying to finish the book quickly. [This is general advice for any book on the subject.]
  2. Read the book twice. The first time do not try to understand everything. Get the big picture the first time. If something feels deep, know that you can come back for it the second time. This is a book that goes as deep into the cross as it does into your pain and that is hard for anyone to digest in one reading.

Second, the material seeks to dissect the individual experiences of sexual abuse rather than charting a journey through those experiences. It is often hard for a victim of sexual abuse to pull apart his/her emotional experiences. This book does a good job of labeling the “baskets” of experiences. Each of the six experiences are described well enough to serve as a stand alone resource on each subject for teachers (regardless whether the subject being addressed is sexual abuse). However, for the reader seeking to be taught how to “sort the laundry” of his/her experience they may desire more process instruction.

The richness of this book would make it an excellent resource for someone well into their recovery who wants to understand what God has been doing all along the way. Even if their recovery was found through a secular counselor or the “school of hard knocks,” I believe they would be able to trace the hand of God in their life with the quality of writing and scholarship in Rid of My Disgrace.

I am personally excited to see books like this one being written by biblical counseling authors. I pray that God will bless not only the ministry done with and through this book, but that God will use it to inspire more of its kind.

This review was originally posted at The Biblical Counseling Coalition site. I would heartily recommend the BCC as a resource to find information about the best resources on Biblical Counseling.

“Overcoming Anger” Videos Now Posted

Many of you have been asking, “When will the videos from the ‘Overcoming Anger’ seminar be posted?” Those videos are now becoming ready. The first two are currently up and the rest should be posted by the end of the week.

For the link to these videos click here.

If you are interested in studying these materials as a part of a intensive group to overcome a struggle with anger that is disrupting your life, I would encourage you to contact our Freedom Group ministry.

If your small group is interested in studying through these materials as a way to encourage and disciple one another on the subject of anger, please contact our church office for copies of the seminar notebook designed to facilitate these studies.

The Momentum of Wisdom

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“Remember that, as I said, the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less… You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping… You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either (p. 93).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Wisdom is more like the wind than a rock. It is something with movement to be experienced rather than a static entity to be possessed. The wind changes things. Rocks sit. Rocks can be collected, stored, and brought out whenever the owner likes. The wind can be harnessed, but it is subject to no man.

These parallels seem relevant to Lewis’ observation that a prerequisite to knowledge is living in the right direction. When someone is living in the right direction, wisdom is like the wind at their back building upon the momentum of character. When someone is living in the wrong direction, wisdom is like the wind in their face making each step more difficult and souring the entire journey.

Yet we only acknowledge this is true when we are living in the right direction. Someone with the wind in their face is convinced the wind is “against” them even when it is blowing in the direction they should be going. Their direction obscures their ability to determine friend and foe; assistance and hindrance.

This leads to Lewis’ point about sleep and sobriety. It requires a certain condition in order to be able to accurately perceive a problem. Consciousness is required in order to know unconsciousness (i.e. sleep).  Soberness is required to know unsoberness (i.e., drunk). Wisdom is required to know unwisdom (i.e., foolishness). Holiness is required to know unholiness (i.e., bad).

To the fool everything seems wise, except wisdom. Hence, wisdom becomes a term void of meaning. Then because nothing works, everything becomes permissible. When someone suggests wisdom as the solution to folly, they are rejected as absurd because they dare to suggest the “worst” approach to fix the mess made by the “reasonable” ones.

When one is headed in the wrong direction, both good and bad lose all meaning. Without these categories of thought it becomes impossible to accurately know yourself or make consistently good choices. Life becomes random and meaningless.

Meaning becomes a joke that is too painful to tell. It is like a starving man trying to joke about good. The subject so offends his condition that the joke (even if true) offends his condition and highlights his pain. For someone without an accurate and effective sense of right and wrong, “should” becomes a subject (even if real) that offends their sinful condition and highlights the darkness in which they live.

So what do we take away from this reflection? Wisdom is something that we surrender to, not something we collect. We place our life in the flow of its current or we try to fight against the current and create directionless turbulence surrounding our life. With that turbulence, the disruption of wisdom, it becomes impossible (apart from God’s grace and our surrender to it through repentance) to regain any meaningful sense of direction. Let us never forget the ripples of destruction when we try to define good and evil for ourselves (Gen 3:5).

Effects of an Affair

We know that the betrayal of an affair hurts, but the intensity of the pain, awkwardness of the subject, and crisis-nature of the disclosure often cause us to neglect asking, “What does an affair do that causes it to hurt so badly?” In this post, we will look at three things that an affair does which account for the level of pain it creates.

Shuffles Our Story

Affairs hide and lie. We live in ignorance. While we may not think things are “great,” we have no idea what is actually occurring in our life story. Innocently, we can live a lie for weeks, months, or years. When the facts come to light we look back on our life and don’t know what parts of our memories are true and what parts are fiction.

Before the facts came to light if someone asked you to tell your life story, you could (although it might be a time consuming request). Now you can’t. That is incredibly painful and disorienting. It makes you feel mentally, emotionally, and narratively naked. We make so many decisions based upon where our life going (tracing the direction of our story). When your story gets shuffled, the ability to make decision can feel paralyzed.

Confuses Our Vocabulary

I love you. I’m going to the gym. Every compliment. Every criticism. Every apology. Any reference to the future. Any reference to the past. What do they mean? What did they mean? Do they mean anything? Obviously I missed the message before and I don’t want to miss it again. Every word becomes a riddle.

It is painful to feel forced to live as a constant skeptic in one’s own house for the purpose of self-protection. This is the marital equivalent of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9). When language is stripped of meaning, then the currency of relationships has its value removed. We can exchange words, but it doesn’t feel like any transaction is occurring.

Makes Trust Seem Naïve

Home is no longer “safe” for the reasons discussed above, and when home is not safe (a place of rest and replenishing) then the whole world feel more threatening. We begin to believe that only pain and bad news can be true. If I get good news and believe it, I am just being naïve like I was before.

This is the pain of lies. We don’t lie to make things sound worse than they are. So when lies have jolted our world, we begin to believe that everything is worse than we have been told. Common sense is something we gain on the other side of innocence. Now that we are “wordly wise” innocence (expressed partly as trust) it is hard to regain and often feared more than desired.

Where Do We Begin?

This picture sounds pretty bleak. It is. Hope enters a dark place when it returns after an affair. Anything that minimizes this fact gives false hope to the offender and places unwarranted pressure upon the betrayed. There is hope, but hope should not be used to minimize the damage.

So what should the offender do? These points are meant to correspond with the relational damage described above. They both assume that repentance towards God has already occurred and examining the lies and deceitful desires you bought into during the affair.

First, join your spouse where they are. You know what happened; they don’t. Do not speak with a confidence that assumes their world is as certain as yours.

Second, seek to understand their experience. Words will begin to have meaning from you understanding them not them understanding you. You should answer your spouse’s questions (with complete honesty), but trust will build from you understanding them not you giving facts to them.

Third, recognize and honor the faith and risk of trust. This honor will be expressed dispositionally through patience, refraining from self-pity, and not getting defensive. Your spouse will likely be repetitive as they put their story back together (like someone who is grieving). This process is the building of trust and you honor it by not making them walk it alone. You are receiving grace from one who bleeds as they give it. Honor the Jesus you see in them.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Adultery” post which address other facets of this subject.

How Specific Should a Spouse Be Confessing Sexual Sin?

Note: This blog was originally posted in January 2011. It is being re-posted now because it corresponds with the weekend sermon messages at The Summit Church.

This is a difficult question. Unfortunately, it is also a common question. It is a question that, even when pressing, most try to avoid. But when we avoid the question, the person who gets hurt most is the person who has been betrayed.

We must not buy the lie that we can “protect someone from the truth.” The absence of truth is bondage (John 8:31-38). When we couch our silence as “protecting our spouse,” we make a virtue out of the cover up of our sin.

Take a moment to listen to this brief (5 minute) video by David Powlison.

I would encourage you to read the biblical passages referenced from II Samuel 11-12 as you go through this post. What follows is attempt to outline key elements of confessing sexual sin (lust, pornography, infidelity, etc…) from the account of David and Bathsheba. Remember, we have this account primarily because David volunteered it after being confronted by Nathan (see Psalm 51:13-14).

11:1 – You should confess the actions that left you vulnerable to this sin. This is important as the two of you develop a “how do protect against this happening again” plan.

11:2-3 – You should confess the steps that you took as entered into the sin. Rarely does sin “just happen.” You need to see where you chose to be blind. Confessing this helps your spouse to know you are taking the sin seriously.

11:4 – You should confess sin to the full extent to which it reached. Little is more damaging than the severity of sexual sin to slowly leak out. Trust begins to build and then is broken time after time. Learn from David – the truth always comes out.

11:5 – You should confess all consequences of your sin that occurred before your spouse learned of your sin. Did you lose your job, get demoted, contract an STD, take out an unknown credit card, etc…? Unconfessed consequences will be painful reminders for both of you later on.

11:6-27 – You should confess your methods of deception, others involved in the cover up of your sin, other sins you committed in tandem with the sexual sin, and the impact the sin has had on your overall character. Notice this section is the longest part of the narrative. Sin maintains its life and mutates into other expressions when we hide our methods of lying and resist reflecting upon its impact.

12:1-15 – You should confess how you were brought to repentance. As you confess this, remember it is God’s grace (although painful) that you were brought to repentance. If your spouse “found out,” you can still share how you came to the conviction to be completely truthful.

12:7-15 – You should accept the consequences that emerge after your confession. Being forgiven should not be confused with the removal of consequences. See the blog post “The Forgiveness Trap” for more on this.

12:16-23 – You should be willing to walk through the emotional ups and downs with your spouse as they learn of your sin, forgive, and work to restore the relationship. Don’t vomit your sin on your spouse and walk away from them to clean up the mess alone. This is a key part of loving your spouse well. It will not feel loving to either of you, but choosing to comfort your spouse over your own comfort is love (Philippians 2:4-5).

Seminars:

  • False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Lust to Adultery
  • True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin

Articles:

Booklets:

Two Time Tables of an Affair

This resource is taken from the “True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sinseminar notebook.

It goes without saying that when an affair occurs a married couple is not “on the same page.” But this is truer than our catch-phrase reveals.

Time Table One

As the news hits, the betrayed spouse goes from denial (This cannot really be what is happening. There has to be another explanation.) to anger (I cannot believe you did this to me.) to questioning (What did I do to make you stray? What made the other person more desirable than me?) to depression (I don’t think I can handle this.) to acceptance (I am going to have to chose what the rest of my life is going to look like.).

The rise and fall of these emotions is intense. The betrayed spouse’s emotions can ping pong between the first four experiences multiple time per hour. The fluctuation can be so physically intense that it is nauseating. Every picture and decoration in the house can trigger a new emotion. Any word in a conversation can seemingly change the direction of their heart.

Time Table Two

When the affair comes to light the betrayed spouse is usually surprised at how calm and nonchalant the offending spouse has been.  What is often overlooked is that the offending spouse started on a similar emotional journey when the affair began and has been at the last stage for some time now (at least until the infidelity came to light).

When the affair began as an “inappropriate relationship” chances are the offending spouse experienced denial (No, that is person is not interested in me. This can’t really be happening.), anger (What am I thinking? This is stupid.), questioning (What if I get caught? Am I willing to risk it?), depression (in the form of shame after sexual encounters or telling the lover, “We can’t keep doing this?”), and then acceptance (a sense of normal settles in and its only emotionally intense when they almost get caught or something sparks their conscience to the choices being made).

So by the time the betrayed spouse finds out what it going on the betrayed spouse has been processing the shocking information for weeks, months, or even years. This accounts for the difference in response and is understandable (not acceptable) given the amount of time each person has had to process the infidelity.

What Do We Do?

You begin by acknowledging what each time table represents. Table one is a shock response to traumatic life-changing news. Table two is a picture of how the presence of sin slowly hardens our hearts. There is no way to quickly undo either response. Shock takes time to process regardless of whether we are ready to forgive. Hardness of heart does not wear off at the first penetration of light into our darkness.

Then you must each realize that your time table will distort your responses. Neither person “sees clearly.” This is why counseling is an important part of restoring a marriage broken by adultery. Both of you will be “it’s not like that” frequently in the coming days and weeks. Unless you are able to gain a shared accurate understanding of what has taken place and what needs to happen, then the sense of mistrust will multiply with each attempt to talk and you will likely conclude “we just can’t recover from this.”

Finally, you must realize that you will never have the same experience of the affair. Each of you had a radically different experience. What you should be able to agree on and experience the same is: the affair was evil and must be completely severed, the Gospel offers the power to change and comfort we each need, and a standard of future faithfulness and transparency.

It is by God’s grace through this kind of process that a couple can begin to live “on the same page” again. An affair causes a division that is larger than a series of sexual encounters. It will take more than an extended time of “being good” to bridge the gap. The patience the offending spouse shows is not an act of penance, but a recognition that their spouse is “catching up” (in addition to forgiving and healing personally). The betrayed spouse can benefit from understanding these things, because it often makes the offending spouse seem less callous or aloof.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Adultery” post which address other facets of this subject.

TGC & BCC: 5 Part Series on Depression and the Ministry

Recently, The Gospel Coalition and the Biblical Counseling Coalition posted a 5 part series on “Depression in the Ministry.” This is a vitally important subject.  Pastors are people like everyone else. This has two implications.

First, we should care for pastors like we care for everyone else in the Body of Christ. Too often more is expected from pastors than anyone else in the church and yet pastors recieve less personal care than anyone else in the church.

Second, even if you are not a pastor these discussions of depression can benefit you too.

I hope you will read these posts and pass the links along to those in your church who are in positions to think through how your church cares for her pastors.

Part 1 – The Set Up by Paul David Tripp

Part 2 – Occupational Hazards by Garrett Higbee

Part 3 – A Ministry Sabbatical by Steve Viars

Part 4 – The Need for Wise Disclosure by Jeremy Lelek

Part 5 – Facing Depression with Christ by Bob Kellemen

Choices Turn the Central Part of You

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature.  (p. 92).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Does this quote amount to anything more than “our choices add up”?  If that is all that Lewis is saying, then it’s a poetic duh-statement. But I believe Lewis is saying more than bad choices add up to a bad life.

Our choices reveal where we are preparing to live. But his preparation is less overt than we would like to think. When we enjoy something we are (in effect) declaring it “heavenly.” If the thing we enjoy (as we enjoy) resembles something heavenly, our soul is slowly transforming into a character than could enjoy heaven.

However, if the thing we enjoy (or the way we enjoy it) does not resemble heaven, then we have created a counterfeit heaven. There is only one name for such a place – Hell. If our soul is having its tastes shaped to enjoy a counterfeit heaven, then our inner person is becoming more suited for Hell than heaven. At the end of our days, God would merely be giving us what we wanted all our lives.

We don’t think of day-to-day choices this way. We might think of a choice to have an affair, dismantle our children’s world, and leave the church this way. Or, we might think of a choice to use hard drugs, waste our life savings, and become physically-financially dependant that way. But that is only when we face these choices hypothetically or see them played out in the life of others.

If we truly were making these choices, we would be convinced of their happiness, necessity, or our ability to make these choices while remaining “the same person.” We would view ourselves as being in control – the opposite of changing. It would only be the reactionary and judgmental people around us who changed.

As we read this, we should be afraid. It makes me uncomfortable to write it. The pattern has been played out in too many lives for us to be the exception. Yet it does not take a “big” life-changing sin to have this influence.

If Lewis is correct, every choice is slowly turning the central part of our soul towards Heaven or Hell. Our life is lived on such a grand stage every day that we have grown immune to the importance of what we relate to as “mundane.” We are worse than the athlete who grows bored with playing in front of tens of thousands of cheering fans while making millions of dollars.

The point of this reflection is not to paralyze us in fear, but to wake us up to reality. Nothing that has been said makes reality more real. More than that, God is for us. God is not waiting to catch us in a mistake. He wants to be known and for us to enjoy knowing Him.

The goal is to disrupt the malaise of boredom that comes when we think our daily choices don’t matter. Simple choices made to love God and love others matter immensely. They are what God uses to change the world and to change us. Realizing this, let us give ourselves fully to the full breadth of choices we will make today (significant and, seemingly, insignificant).

The Forgiveness Trap

Forgiveness is never simple or straight-forward because it always involves both sin and sinners. Worse yet, it always involves a sinner who has sinned against another sinner.

Usually in the post-sin, pre-forgiveness stage of the process there is some clear role definition that occurs. One person is the offender. The other person is the offended. I acknowledge that we are all sinners, but for repentance and forgiveness to occur, these roles must be defined even if they are alternated.

During this middle phase there is usually some delay of time when the offending party(s) is trying to decide if they are going to repent. They replay the events looking for a way to justify their actions. Maybe they weigh out whether their actions were “wrong enough” to warrant an apology. But in order to enter “the forgiveness trap” the offending party must come to the person they offended in repentance.

Eventually they come to the person they offended and say, “I was wrong for doing what I did. Will you forgive me?” The trap has been set.

But wait a minute. You’re thinking, “What is wrong with that?” Nothing. That is exactly what should happen. I am not saying that the trap is manipulative or intentional.

So what is the trap? An immediate role reversal in which if the offended person does not promptly reply with absolute forgiveness, the sinner vs. saint roles are reversed. The white hat and the black hat switch heads. Often times a hesitancy in forgiveness becomes a greater sin than the original offense and the offended person is not even given the same period of time to forgive that the offending person took to repent.

I am not saying this is what should happen, but it’s often what does happen. Sometimes, it is an innocent misapplication of biblical teaching on forgiveness. Other times, it is manipulative form of repentant-revenge.

I am not saying that forgiveness is optional. Even if the offending person does not repent, forgiveness is commanded as an authentic expression of our appreciation for Christ’s forgiveness of us (Eph. 4:32). To fail to do so angers God greatly (Matt 18:15-35).

But too often, “the trap” assumes this must be done immediately and that full trust must be restored upon forgiveness. We must remember that while God can command forgiveness, the offending person cannot. The offending person requests forgiveness recognizing forgiveness is an act of grace. To demand forgiveness and use Scripture to pressure forgiveness is a sign that the “repenting” person does not understand what he/she is asking.

As a general guide line, I advise a repenting person to wait at least as long as it took them to repent before they mention the offended person’s obligation to forgive. In cases of traumatic offenses or painful betrayals it may be wise to wait longer. If not, it falls into the “now I’m the good guy and you’re the bad guy… God’s on my team” trap.

It should also be noted that the restoration of trust and forgiveness are two distinct but related things. One can “cancel a debt” without being eager to “give more credit.” Attacking someone with their fault is a sign of unforgiveness, but a hesitancy to potentially place one’s self in harms way again is not. If these two things are treated as the same thing, they create another “forgiveness trap.”