by Mike Manzie and Russell Willingham
As a child, Melvin longed for stability, support, and love. Looking back, his earliest memories are of childhood sexual abuse and abandonment. Without the protection and support of his family, he struggled to cope and cut off his emotions.
In time, Melvin met and married Sue, and had a baby. He desperately wanted to enjoy life, hold down a steady job and move on from the craziness of his early years. But his long-standing addictions kept him bound to a past he couldn’t shake.
At every turn, deep-seated fear and anxiety drove his life choices as he struggled to put a finger on the source of the pain. Drugs, alcohol, and violence became his default, ending in big fights with his wife that created legal problems.
Unsure of her options, Sue scoured the internet, looking for Christian resources, and stumbled across NCM. She began getting counseling for herself and Melvin followed suit.
But the struggles continued. At her tipping point, Sue’s heart was broken and she wanted out of the marriage. That ultimatum got Melvin’s attention. He rededicated his life to Christ and entered an in-patient alcohol rehab center.
After months in rehab, Melvin returned to counseling at New Creation. During a session, he shared with Russell about an exercise they had done during rehab. In the exercise, the leader invited them to take the “backpack” of addiction, pain, and trauma and drop it into an imaginary well, to be free of it. As Melvin did the exercise he looked into this imaginary well and saw the faces of his abusers reflected back at him. The experience scared and disturbed him but he wasn’t sure how to process it.
Months later, Melvin had a rough day at work. After hours spent underground repairing a dark, filthy old well, he came home “off.” Assuming he was using again, Sue confronted him over his actions. Melvin exploded, locking himself in a bedroom and barring the door so she couldn’t get in. Desperate and fearing the worst, Sue called the police, who eventually talked him out.
In the days following, Melvin and Russell met to discuss his strange behavior. As they processed his feelings and actions, Melvin was at a complete loss about what had triggered him.
Until a moment when Russell was struck by a powerful thought…
Melvin spent his days working on old wells, repairing broken parts, and making them usable again. What if the action of climbing into that well had brought back the emotions, pain, and fear of throwing his “backpack” of struggles away?
That insight from Russell helped Melvin draw closer to the God who could help him unravel his abuse. And as Melvin has clung to God, He has been faithful to help him unlearn the destructive coping mechanisms that plagued his entire life. Allowing him to find hope and support he so desperately needed.
Breakthroughs like Melvin’s occur as God leads through our hour-long sessions. It’s in those moments that we celebrate the Power of an Hour in the life of yet another client.
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