Practical Advice on Dealing with Your Emotions
ALL OVER THE PLACE
When accused, we have all kinds of emotions. We have feelings that are scary, that are upsetting, and that cause all kind of havoc in our sense of direction. "Muddleheaded" is putting it mildly.
No matter what the accusation, especially if we are not given any specifics, our own GUILTS go flying off in all directions. Most clergy operate on guilt - we are often so self-critical that we convict ourselves of things no one else even noticed. Maybe we did happen to "like" a particular hug an attractive person gave us. Maybe we missed a meeting we had called. Maybe we blurted out some stupid thing that alienated someone. Maybe, a long time ago, we did something dumb. We are very aware of how short of the glory of God we've fallen.
HARD AS IT WILL BE, SET ALL GUILT ASIDE!
That's where care of friends can help. It is also where your advocate needs you to be.
YOU ARE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.
Don't let your normal guilt feelings play into the hands of an accuser or of
your superiors in office if they become accusers (believe me, they are sorely
tempted!). If you are actually guilty of serious harm, your advocate should
help prevent over-punishment and vengeance. This is no time to let guilt put you emotionally out of control.
DISAPPOINTMENT is also powerful. How could anyone believe all those awful
things about you? But they do. That's enough to make anyone consider suicide, or at least go into a serious depression. "Move your muscles" to get help, to discover that not everyone believes the allegations, and to realize that all is not yet lost. DO NOT CRAWL INTO A HOLE AND PULL IT IN AFTER YOU.
FEAR is also, amazingly, a major motive that drives most clergy. We may well be scared someone will discover our failures, our doubts, our inadequacies. We may well be scared we are not good enough to have our position or that someone may not like us. We may well be scared we will lose our reputation, our job, home, and even family. Most of those fears are unfounded in reality if fair process is followed. We are usually no worse than average! The first words out of the mouths of the angels in Jesus' birth stories were "BE NOT AFRAID."
ANGER is also a significant force, often the energy inside the drive to
leadership. It will be triggered by the anger of the accusers and the church
leaders who believe the accusations. It may cause you to act hastily, to
withdraw, to fire off salvos of invective, to consider wringing someone's neck! So face up to it and don't let it eat you up. LET YOUR ANGER STRENGTHEN YOUR RESOLVE FOR JUSTICE, NOT RETRIBUTION!
Mix these all together and you've got a tempest inside that destroys rational thought and decision-making. GET HELP IMMEDIATELY. Sort out these feelings and realize they have distorted your thinking. You need your wits about you to face the accusations, so buy time, as the 20 and 30 day waiting periods allow you before a hearing. YOU ARE NOT GOING CRAZY. Any normal person would be torn up when facing accusations. God gave us many ways to "restore our souls." Use them before making any decisions or planning any responses.
by Rev. Jerry Eckert