Posted by: Marie | June 7, 2010

(329) Session deux – Part 2 of 3

Post #329
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, January 21, 2010 – continued from previous post]

For the first two minutes of his sermon, I didn’t say a word . . . I think my mouth may have been hanging open a bit as I stared at him in amazement . . . what the hell was he thinking? I thought . . . maybe, if I listen carefully, I might be able to figure out his logic.

But . . . no.

Finally, I interrupted him.

I said with exasperation, “Excuse me, but right now you are talking about your beliefs. This is exactly what I mean when I say I believe you will not be able to keep yourself from talking about your beliefs in my therapy. This behavior is not acceptable. So, why are you doing it?”

He looked at me rather surprised . . . and inquired, “What do you mean?”

“Why are the words you are saying right now coming out of your mouth? You are telling me what you believe. Just a few minutes ago, you gave me your word that you wouldn’t do that! You’re already breaking your promise to me!”

“I’m not telling you my beliefs. I’m telling you what the Bible says.”

“But why are you doing that?!?!?!?”

“I’m just trying to clarify in what ways your beliefs don’t match up with what the Bible says. I thought that is what you wanted!”

“No, my faith is not Bible-based. I asked for secular therapy, not Bible-based therapy! Why do you keep bringing the Bible into my therapy?!?!?”

On the Walk by Martin Chen

“You said you believed in parts of the Bible and not in other parts . . . you are struggling to bring your interpretation of your life experiences into alignment with what the Bible says . . so you can find peace and understanding around all parts of the Bible.”

“No, I said that I think the Bible has some good parts – it has pieces of truth and wisdom in it – I think some of the historical documentation is likely true – I see it as a valuable book.”

“Well, that is how I feel about the Qur’an and all the books of other religions.”

“And that is how I feel about the Bible. My faith is not Bible-based.”

“Well, either the Bible is inerrant or it is errant . . . either you follow the God of the Bible or you follow some other god. Which god do you follow?”

“I disagree with you that the God of the Bible and the God of other religions can’t be the same God. I follow the same God you do; I just don’t follow the Bible. I believe we worship the same God – I believe it is our understandings of that one God that differ, which results in differing religions and different religious texts. I believe all paths to God are valid and appropriate.”

“So, do you follow the God of the Bible or do you worship another god?”

“I will use your terminology if it will help clear things up in your mind . . . I believe in the ‘other’ option.”

He then waved his hand and said, “Oh! Well, that sure changes things! I thought you were a Christian looking for clarity. Now that I know you are of another faith, I’ll quit trying to help you bring your beliefs in-line with the Bible.”

(Ah! A lightbulb came on for me. So, it has been a huge misunderstanding causing all this grief!)

We talked about it for a few minutes – made sure we were both clear about what I wanted and where the boundary was positioned.

I felt a huge sense of relief when I saw he finally understood my boundary and when he indicated he would not violate it in the future – and, by the way, I do believe him. It seems he really understands and appreciates my boundary now.

However, what he said next didn’t sit so well with me. He said, “There are Christians out there who will try to cram Christianity down your throat if you tell them you are of a different faith – I think they are being disrespectful when they do that! I would never disrespect your beliefs like that! I respect that you have a choice to believe as you deem ‘right’!”

My mouth almost hit the ground . . . I guess it didn’t occur to him that he has spent the last two years doing exactly that just because he didn’t take the time to get his facts straight. I have been through hell because of his not understanding. He still seems to have no comprehension of how I have been affected.

He went on to explain that he thought I was angry because he had shared his own interpretation of the Bible – he thought that the boundary I set in 2008 was to keep him from sharing his own interpretation. But, he thought he would still be honoring the boundary if he were careful to only quote the Bible and to not share his own interpretations.

He thought my resistance to hearing quotes from the Bible had to do with how angry I was at my dad for his use of religion to manipulate me into complying with his rules. Mark said he had been working so hard to figure out how to break through that wall of resistance. He felt that I had to have a “break through” in this area in order to fully heal.

When I look at the situation from Mark’s viewpoint, I can see that he really was trying to do the right thing. He really was trying to do what a therapist should do . . . help a client find a way through fearful and angry resistance.

Too bad he was violating a boundary he didn’t understand while trying to knock down a wall that doesn’t exist.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. Oh, Marie … I hope you will not be offended when I say that I found this to be hilarious. Of course I do not find your suffering to be funny at all, and I hate it that you had to go through it and feel so judged and manipulated. But there is something really comical in the “Oh! So that’s what you meant! Never mind!” reaction. And that he could have that reaction without really acknowledging what he’d put you through… well, that’s funny too, in the blackest and most ironic way.

    • Hey, David –

      No, I’m not offended . . . in fact, I’ll have to admit that, in the thick of things, the thought crossed my mind that I must be on “Candid Camera”. I couldn’t come up with a better explaination in that moment, LOL!

      The “Oh . . nevermind!” thing got my goose . . . he had no clue.

      Anyway . . . I appreciate you giving me reason to see it in a humorous light now!

      – Marie

  2. Well, that was interesting. I know every therapist makes mistakes (and if handled right this can be a good thing) but well, What does the word narcissistic mean to Mark do you think?

    Like David, I do think it has its funny side.

    Looking forward to part 3

    • Hey, Evan –

      Actually, many times in our time together, Mark laughingly talked about his “narcissistic personality”. I thought he was joking . . . or at least was just talking about his natural tendency to be narcissistic in his weaker moments . . . but, trying to work though all this with him left me with some doubts about my earlier grasp of his personality.

      So, I think you are hitting one of the issues right on the nose!

      – Marie

  3. I can sure understand your frustration. I’m sorry you had to go through so much to get where you are. With the newest therapist, I made it very clear to him in the beginning that I am an atheist so he would leave his own crap out of the equation. Still, these things are tricky and he said a couple of things that triggered my ‘religion radar’ and I went off on him and accused him of being a Christian and trying to slop it over onto me. Then he said that he is NOT a Christian and that he would be happy to tell me what he believes if I would like. I very bluntly told him no, that his personal spiritual beliefs are totally not relevant to my therapy and that I do not want to hear about them or ever detect them there. I think I have been clear with him, but I went through hell with another therapist on this kind of stuff to the point where I’m militant about it now (to the point where I have joined up with local atheist activists because I’m SO FED UP). I totally understand you not wanting someone else’s beliefs involved in your therapy and I am very happy for you that you were able to clear it up and that Mark was able to get to the bottom of where his mistake came from.

    • Hi, EH –

      In my day-to-day life, I am very careful to listen but not judge other people’s belief systems . . . and I would never try to push my beliefs on someone else. I actually talk about my beliefs very little unless someone is actively looking to learn about my beliefs in an open-minded way.

      I guess what makes that possible is that I think all paths lead to “God” or “Source” or “Mother Nature” (or to whatever is at the end of all this), so I actually believe that everyone’s belief system is valid.

      All I ask from others is the same . . . but, some people can’t give me that . . . and the result is that I feel that protective anger rise up when people disrespect me. It is likely I am more sensitive about the matter than most . . . so, I understand what you are saying.

      I wish they could understand that being so pushy actually harms their evangelical agenda!

      Anyway . . . I appreciate the input!

      – Marie

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