Handling Trauma with Faith: Faithful Healing, Dr. McNear

Show Notes

Discussing Dr. McNear’s Book: Finding My Words: A Ruthless Commitment to Healing Gently After Trauma

Embark on a transformative journey of healing and faith as you navigate trauma through the lens of Christianity. In this episode we are joined with renowned expert Dr. Mark McNear as he offers profound insights and practical guidance for those seeking to overcome the impact of trauma within the context of their Christian faith.

Drawing from his extensive experience and compassionate approach, Dr. McNear, author of the acclaimed book “Finding My Words: A Ruthless Commitment to Healing Gently After Trauma,” delves into the complexities of  his own trauma recovery. Through his empowering strategies and deep understanding of the intersection between trauma, faith, and healing, he provides a unique perspective that resonates with individuals seeking solace, strength, and restoration.

Within this transformative exploration, Dr. McNear shares invaluable wisdom, personal anecdotes, and practical tools inspired by his book. “Finding My Words” serves as a guiding light, offering profound insights into the healing process and the gentle approach required to navigate trauma’s aftermath. By addressing the specific challenges faced by Christians dealing with trauma and addiction, Dr. McNear provides guidance on integrating spiritual principles into the healing journey.

Dr. McNear’s compassionate approach, combined with the wisdom found in his book “Finding My Words,” will empower you to confront the effects of trauma, find solace in your faith, and embark on a path towards healing and restoration.

Through this captivating exploration, you will gain a deeper understanding of how trauma impacts your Christian journey and discover practical strategies to navigate the healing process. Dr. McNear’s expertise, compassionate guidance, and the insights shared in “Finding My Words” will empower you to embrace your faith as a source of strength, resilience, and transformation.

Join Dr. Mark McNear on this extraordinary voyage of healing, faith, and empowerment through a difficult journey. 

Dr. Mark McNear’s Links

Website: https://markmcnear.com/

Book: https://amzn.to/46uhbQP

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Johnny Sanders (00:09):

Well everyone, welcome to another episode of Faithfully Engaged. I’m really happy to have Dr. Mark McNear here today, and before we get into this really good discussion, just wanted to have him introduce himself to the audience. So Doctor Mark McNair, why don’t you kind of tell the crowd, crowd about you a little bit.

Dr. Mark McNear (00:30):

I’d be glad to. Johnny, I am an author, I am a speaker, and my primary job is being a psychotherapist. I live in Northwest New Jersey.

Johnny Sanders (00:40):

Great, great. And I was talking to just off camera for a little bit. I was really trying my best to make this book, which is his book, finding My Words, trying to make it look nice and professional. And I did read it and we are going to get into that discussion now. I was going to take it off during the interview and look through parts, but it’s not held together very well back there. So it’s going to stay static, but I’ll include a link to the book and the description and everything and I, I’d highly suggest everyone to check it out because it is a great story. And leading into that, let’s start with not so much into the book, which we’ll get there, but let’s just talk a little bit about your being a psychotherapist and everything. What led you to get into that? Just tell a little bit of that story.

Dr. Mark McNear (01:32):

Sure. I was in Bible college and I was originally going to be a pastor and then I think it was the third year in Bible college I was getting ready to be married. And so there was a lot of things that I felt like I needed to work on coming from the background that I came from. And so I had gone to a counselor and I found how helpful that was. And so I really felt called after that to become a counselor. And so I finished up the pastoral track at the college and then spent longer there in psychology. I did a minor in psychology there and then went on after that to NYU and then to subsequent training after that.

Johnny Sanders (02:16):

Great. Yeah, I always enjoy when I talk with another clinician, just hearing that story. I think we all have different paths, but those motivations behind why you get there, they, they’ve really helped fuel your work. For sure. Let’s kind of get a little bit, I don’t want to go too in depth into the book all at once, but since we do have it presented here and we really want to get into it, would you mind giving just a brief overview of what this book is is about somebody that’s just looking at it on screen there? What’s it about?

Dr. Mark McNear (02:57):

Actually, actually that’s a picture of me when I was five years old. Wow. So that’s a picture of me in kindergarten. So the book is about a journey that I started about eight years ago and I have been encouraged to write this story and it was really hard story to write, but about eight years ago I found myself going into rehab for substance abuse and then finding out just how much trauma I had in my childhood and not having the words to be able to talk about a lot of the things that had happened to me. And so little by little and the counseling that I had and the encouragement that I had from my wife and my daughter and my son-in-law, I have been able to heal greatly from the trauma that I had. And as I was progressing through, different counselors would comment to me, you know, really need to tell your story.

And I was like, there’s no way I’m telling my story. That began actually Johnny that began in rehab where therapists and other patients would say, tell me your story. And I was like, I didn’t have the emotional wherewithal to be able to do it. And not only that, I didn’t have the words to be able to do it. So the book talks about that journey. The beginning part is about being in rehab. The second part of the book is about complex trauma that I experienced in childhood. And then the last part of the book is really uplifting about the hope that I have in Jesus Christ and just all of the things that the Lord has done in my life in the last eight years.

Johnny Sanders (04:32):

And that’s something that when my process through reading the book it, it’s really interesting that first part because I was telling my wife when I was reading it, it’s kind of like when you’re watching a movie and there’s this big scene that happens and you’re like, oh my gosh, what’s going to happen next? And then it takes you back to the past. And that’s really how this book is written. And I don’t want to certainly use too many words here because these are your words, but definitely that second part, and you even wrote about it, it’s intense. It’s very intense. And that’s what I was saying off camera, that so many books and experiences, things like that on trauma, they seem to stop there. They just stop at the bad. But this book doesn’t that hope at the end there. I was going to ask this maybe a little bit further down, but as I was talking about that this came to my mind where in that journey, throughout this story, where did your faith in Christ really, really first pop up throughout your whole life story?

Dr. Mark McNear (05:50):

One of the things I talk about in the book is the car accident that I had. And so I was about 19 years old, I got hit head on by a drunk driver and ended up in the hospital for about a month, a little bit over a month and had a lot of injuries. And so after that I started searching and actually I think that the Lord started searching me out and just putting people in my pathway and putting books and things like that. And I started reading a book by Norman Vincent, peel the Power of Positive Thinking. And then from there, as I read that book, it talked about getting a bible and going to church. It talked about underlying underlining passages in scripture. And I did that. And then I went to church and I can remember it was a Saturday night that they had a special service and they had a guy come in and he spoke about going the second mile and he gave an invitation to Jesus Christ at the end of it. And I wasn’t totally aware of what I was doing, but I went forward and then felt the call after that to go into Bible college shortly after that.

Johnny Sanders (07:05):

That was something that really struck me with, I can’t remember exactly where this was even written. In fact, I think it was written in multiple places, but that you spoke to how God was calling me. It wasn’t, boy, I just woke up one day and I got it all figured out. Perfect. No, you were searching you with on the addict side of things, I think especially after hearing, oh well I found Christ. Well, if you found Christ then we don’t have any more problems anymore. We don’t deal with issues so clear,

Dr. Mark McNear (07:54):

Clearly not.

Johnny Sanders (07:57):

So speak a little bit more into that of what that path of addiction looked like and what led you to get some help.

Dr. Mark McNear (08:08):

Yeah, sure. I’d be glad to. I had gone, when I was at New York University training, I had gone to a psychiatrist because I was really struggling a lot with anxiety and depression and I was diagnosed at that time too, probably misdiagnosed with A D H D, but I was given medication and the medication immediately made me feel different. It made me feel calmer, made me feel more relaxed. The problem with that, that was wonderful, but the problem with that is it didn’t last. And so I would need to take more to get to the point of feeling that relaxed feeling in my body. And so I was really trying to outrun the trauma that I had experienced in my childhood, the trauma that I had had experienced in my childhood. So what had happened was that through the years, I just took more and more medication to be able to cope with the trauma that I carried inside of me and I was still going to church and I talked about that and then I wasn’t going to church for a while. Things really fell apart for me, but that’s the message that I wanted to bring forth in the book is sometimes when things fall apart, that’s when the Lord is moving into the situation and bringing forth restoration

Johnny Sanders (09:34):

That That’s a really good point. Something that we’ve been, this book we studied at my church recently and something I’ve really have been encouraging just all sorts of people in my life to do. We were reading this book called Reading the Bible, or sorry, praying the Bible and praying the

Dr. Mark McNear (09:52):


Johnny Sanders (09:53):

And it is what it is it, it’s talking about praying through scripture and specifically the Psalms. And what made me think of that when you were saying that there is the Psalms are filled with lamentations. I mean sometimes we forget about it, but some of these were written when the Israelites were in exile. I mean it was bad. And we often think as Christians kind of how great God is and we have the salvation, and yes, we should absolutely have that joy, no doubt. But at the same time there are some rough things that happen. And when you’re talking about your complex trauma, you didn’t ask for any of those. They happen though, and I think that’s something that we can do as Christians and also as clinicians to really point to where, okay, those complex traumas, those issues I’ve dealt with, I can’t run away from them. I can acknowledge them and as a Christian I can acknowledge ’em to Christ and that is not a sign of weakness. That’s actually what we’re called to do. So since going back into the rehab period, what would you say your process like that is as far as recognizing these issues and actually acknowledging them to Christ? What was that process like for you?

Dr. Mark McNear (11:26):

I, and I wrote some of this in the book. One of the stories that I talk about in the book is when I was four years old, my dad had forced me to eat carrots at the dinner table. I ended up vomiting and he got very angry and picked me up and threw me in the garbage. And so I talk about in the book, fast forward from four years old to late twenties, my wife and I are at a wedding and there’s steak and there’s potatoes and there’s carrots, and I didn’t even Johnny, I didn’t even think anything of it. And so I take my fork and I stab it into the carrot and I bring it up and I take a bite and immediately I start to gag.

So it has been things like that that I’ve noticed triggers things from the past or not the past when they come up in the present, unre unresolved things. Another thing I don’t talk about in the book, but I found this really interesting is that when my dad would come home, I would get very anxious as a child, but I would know that he got home because the garage that he was coming home because the garage door was going up. So now you fast forward to being married for quite a few years and we move into our one house and it has garage doors with electric garage doors. And so when my wife comes home from work, from school where she works, the garage door goes up and my heart begins to pound and I feel this sense of dread. So I wanted to write about my process of being able to backtrack in so many areas and pick up on triggers that I found in my body that I would feel panicked in my body and I wouldn’t know why. But then as I would backtrack or I would have a counselor help me or just reassure me that there’s something there going on, I’ve been able to put quite a few of those together.

Johnny Sanders (13:30):

It’s so interesting, I think especially in today’s culture where terms trigger warning thing, things like that, they’re throwing around so much in popular culture that I think that’s one of the problems with that is it really loses some of its meaning when it’s just spread so much. But that is exactly what that is. You eating that dinner not, oh man, let’s think about childhood trauma. That was not at the top of your mind at all, but it’s immediate. It’s just right there. I’ve had a similar experience, it’s not a traumatic one, but just where did that come from? Type of moment where I was at Walmart, this has been several years ago, and my grandma had died at that point, maybe a year or two prior. And it was sad, but I wasn’t still really distraught or anything like that. So it wasn’t on the top of my mind. And I’m just walking through Walmart and this older lady walks by and bam, she had the same perfume that my grandma had. And yeah, there we go. That now I’m thinking about grandma. There’s those emotions.

Dr. Mark McNear (14:43):


Johnny Sanders (14:44):

So it’s just that same thing, but when it comes to trauma, it can be that much more intensive. I did want just something that you’ve been talking about, I realize we understand what this is, but maybe just to go a little bit more detail with the audience, when you say complex trauma, what would you mind going a little bit more in depth of what complex trauma means?

Dr. Mark McNear (15:10):

Not at all. So when we look at trauma, when we look at P T S D, we’re looking at an individual who has suffered an incident in their life that has caused trauma and has caused traumatic symptoms in their life. When we look on the other hand at complex trauma, we’re looking at a series of events that have happened in chapters four, five, and six of the book where it’s one incident after the next incident, after the next kind of, I say this to clients when I’m working with clients, it’s kind of picture with P T S D that there’s one pancake on the plate and it’s severe that I’m not negating the effect of that, but with complex, it’s multiple pancakes stacked up over a period of time. So it’s where it’s one event after another another. And in my childhood, and I talk about this a little bit, I didn’t really get a chance to catch my breath until I was in rehab at 55 years old.

Johnny Sanders (16:17):

Yeah, no, I really like that example because yeah, you have one specific event, bad car wreck or caught a tornado or whatever it may be. Again, issue no doubt, like you said, we don’t want to negate that, but it’s pretty easy to conceptualize this is the problem, this is what I need to work through

For You mean now we’re talking about carrots and stuff. You can’t just sit there and have, oh, this is all I got to do and I’ll get over it. And that’s the kind of line of thinking that I know we went kind of the other way for a little bit of be just being stuck in trauma, which we don’t want that either. We want that hope on the other side. But could you speak a little bit more on the other side, and I see this some particularly in some Christian circles. Well, that was your childhood, like you’re an adult now. Let’s move on past that. Let the past be the past. What would you say in a situation like that, why is that flawed thinking to think like that?

Dr. Mark McNear (17:30):

Well, I think that there’s a couple things that right away come to my mind Johnny. One thing is that the past is never the past when it’s coming up in the present. So if I’m sitting there and I’m looking at carrots and I’m getting ready to eat a carrot and I’m gagging, obviously the past is affecting it. I think that a lot of times we don’t like to deal with pain, and so we would rather give a verse or something like that and say, move along. Aren’t you trusting God fully? And it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the fact that God has created us with bodies and with just incredible brains that are impacted when things go wrong, when there are traumatic things, whether it be physical abuse or whether it be sexual abuse, whether it be verbal or emotional abuse.

And it is really important for us to go back in time to look at how that impacted that person. I think when you ask that, one of the scriptures that came to my mind in Genesis where Abraham and Sarah had kicked Hagar out into the wilderness, and so she’s out in the wilderness and the angel of the Lord comes to her and asks this just incredible question, where have you come from and where are you going? And the idea is a lot of times we can’t really navigate going forward unless we look at where we’ve come from and how that’s impacted us. And definitely that was one of the reasons why I wanted to write the book is because I fell greatly and it was because so much, because of the things that I wasn’t aware of in my life that was impacting me,

Johnny Sanders (19:20):

That I really like the scripture that you used there and kind of using that as some of the wisdom there that we don’t want to be stuck in the past because the past has happened. But you’re right that that’s something that as Christians, we need to know that it’s not just, oh, emotions are you’re weak to show emotions or whatever. Who created those emotions

Dr. Mark McNear (19:48):


Johnny Sanders (19:49):

Created this sense that in your case you definitely see some of those attachment type of issues that God made us in a way to be dependent on our parents. And I can look at my kids and I know that I make mistakes, I know that, but I also know that after I make a mistake or whatever, my kid’s upset that, then they come up and hug me later because we have that attachment. And when you’re not getting that from your caregivers, that doesn’t just affect you because that child that grows into an adult is weak. It’s because sin was involved maybe from the individual, but more so just in that environment. We live in a sinful world. So to just expect to get over it that that’s not the way that God made us in that way. So with that, somebody that is either maybe not necessarily has complex trauma but is just dealing with hardship in their life, they’re a Christian, they believe in Christ, what do they do? Did they just sit there and think about the past all the time? What can they do to help work

Dr. Mark McNear (21:09):

Through that? I think that’s such a great question, Johnny. I think the idea, and I talk about this also in the book, those one another to be able to go to others and to talk to others, especially people have that have gone through the same types of situations and have overcome in those areas. Also, you and I would advocate for our profession to go seek counseling or go into some therapy, get some help. There’s nothing wrong with leaning on others to get help and to get wisdom and to get insight.

Johnny Sanders (21:45):

I think that’s another key point too, that especially as Christians, we need to recognize that we’re not this lone island and that absolutely that is not just a cultural thing or whatever, but it’s the way that we’re made. And if you think about the church, if it was truly just me and God, I know some people have kind of used that terminology. I don’t need church. I just got my own religion, basically just me and God. There’s pretty clear mandates that we’re supposed to be around other believers to have that community. And if you think of Jesus himself, you think he really needed those disciples? No, no, he didn’t need them, but he had them anyways. So it is kind of arrogant of us if we look at it that if I need help and like no, no, no, just I don’t need any help. Good. That’s not the way we were created.

Dr. Mark McNear (22:47):

And yeah, I think of the verse, bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ. Or another one just came to my mind is confess your sins to one another that you may be healed.

Johnny Sanders (22:57):

Yes, yes.

Dr. Mark McNear (22:58):

So important.

Johnny Sanders (23:00):

I wrote a recent blog article talking about just kind of generic depression and Christianity, and I know that oftentimes we get stuck on just talking about confessing sins. Okay, what did I do wrong here? And now granted, in that post I mentioned if you have legitimate sin that you have not confessed, then we need to do that, confess it to Christ, confess it to your wife, to your peers, whatever. But if it’s not a individual sin component, I am not following something that I should be. Sin is still impacting what’s going on. It just may not necessarily be your individual sin. It’s just again, we live in a sin for world. Your childhood was the product, was the fruit of sin, not just you. In fact, most of this was not you, but sin is definitely there. So I guess with us just kind of thought of this too, we can really communicate this in a biblical language because I think it just really fits so nicely. What about people that don’t have faith? I think we would both agree that ultimately that full hope is can’t really be there with without Christ. But how could you communicate this type of growth from complex trauma to somebody that doesn’t share our faith?

Dr. Mark McNear (24:40):

Well, we were talking a little bit about some of the symptoms and I put down some of the symptoms. I thought we could go over those a little bit and just if people would first even become aware that some of these things are signs together of trauma or complex trauma, and then to be able to go seek help, things like mood dysregulation, issues with depression, sadness, anxiety or anger where they just have a hard time regulating their mood throughout the day. Nightmares or sleep interruption is very common with trauma. People who’ve been traumatized as a result of that. Fatigue and tiredness, a big one. Johnny, as you know, is feelings of shame or guilt, worthlessness just not being worth or good enough. Relationship issues, codependency, a sense of emptiness or loneliness, just like a chronic feeling of loneliness. Physical symptoms like chronic pain. Headaches is a big one for people who’ve been traumatized, difficulty in trusting others, fearful, fearful of others, understandably because of being hurt so much. Hypervigilance always being on the outlook or look out for danger, unwanted behaviors, things that you can’t understand, things that you do that you just don’t understand, you don’t want to be doing, but you’re still doing them.

Lack of memories of the past is a big one. Holes in your memory, and I have had a lot of those and I still have those, but not as many after going through this process. And addictions a big one. Big, big, big one is addictions, whether we’re talking about process addictions, things like gambling or shopping, pornography or masturbation, things like that, or whether you’re talking about substance addictions where it’s either with me prescription medications and sometimes alcohol. Sometimes food can be an addiction for people. So just even going over that list and kind of saying, where do I stand with those things? Because if you have a few of those on the list, it might be worth going in looking into to getting help.

Johnny Sanders (27:03):

Yeah, no, I think that’s a great place to start. Everybody’s traumatic experience if they have one, is going to be different. We all experience different symptoms. We might go through the same situation and have different outcomes. That’s a great point. But we need to pay attention. That’s something that every book I read now that since I’ve become a dad, I read through a different lens because I look at my children in it and when I’m reading your story and just seeing the personality changes, all the clear signs for me on the outside looking in, I’m like, goodness. Yeah, it’s clear as day he’s going through this. And I’m thinking of my role as a parent. I want to do the best I can to try to prevent any type of abuse or trauma happening to my kids. But I also recognize I can’t fully prevent that. I can certainly put them in a safer situation, but life happens and I can’t fully predict against that. What I can do is help prepare them. And for me, being an observer that I know, my daughter is super fun, loving, smiling, making jokes, singing. If she was to come in the next day, she went out with friends or something and the next day, and she’s solemn and doesn’t sing at all. She’s super serious. She’s crying all the time. I like to think anyways that I would be able to pick up on that because yeah,

See her so that that’s something too. And maybe you can speak a little bit more into this as family members that maybe they’re not going through anything but they’re concerned about their kids or their spouse or whoever. Can you speak more into how loved ones can be able to help those that have either experienced trauma or might in the future?

Dr. Mark McNear (29:11):

Yeah, and I think you said it beautifully, that idea of awareness, knowing family members, knowing their temperaments, watching for any changes that come about for no clear reason. And I think that in this world, there’s different levels of trauma, but we all go through trauma. We live in a sinful world, so we’re talking about little T traumas compared to big T traumas. And I think that both of those are really important, and just to be aware of family members is really, really important. And to be aware of what’s going on in your body.

Johnny Sanders (29:49):

Yeah, and there’s

Dr. Mark McNear (29:51):

How you figured

Johnny Sanders (29:52):

There. There’s differing layers there. I recently spoke at my chamber of Commerce LA last week and that morning before I went up there, a little nervous, but I didn’t sit there and think, oh my gosh, what all is I, I’m being triggered. What’s all going on? Yeah, I’m nervous because I’m speaking in front of a hundred people to be expected, but that’s fundamentally different than I’m in a situation that normally doesn’t make me nervous. I’m eating carrots. I love that example. No reason for me to feel this way. Why what? What’s going on here? Awareness. So not just with other people, but sounds like what you’re saying too of yourself, your own body, your own cues. You can’t just afford to act like nothing’s going on when something really is going on.

Dr. Mark McNear (30:43):

Exactly, and and I were talking about the idea too of all of these symptoms or all of these things that manifest themselves and then how to counterbalance that. And so I thought we could talk a little bit about that. Again, put through together a list of things, some of these things that I do on a daily basis, and I always tell clients when I’m dealing with clients, I want you to build a toolbox of self-care and techniques that work for you. They might not work for me, but that doesn’t matter if they work for you. That’s the important thing. Things like walking or exercise, especially for people who’ve been traumatized, really, really important. Talking with a friend, connecting with others and doing breathing breath work can be really helpful and calming the body down when someone’s been traumatized. Mindfulness exercises, I do a lot of coloring in the morning just to calm myself down.

Drawing is really important. Another one is journaling. Journaling your thoughts and feelings and if you want to share them with somebody that’s safe, that’s the key. Finding somebody that’s safe that will be able to hear and not criticize what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling. Playing with putty, worry stones, I have a client, I got permission to share this one since she was a little girl, she would just roll with her. She had a lot of trauma in her childhood. She would just roll her fingers first with a pillowcase to calm her body down. And then she came up with the idea of using a string or a cord to do that. And to this day she still does it, but it helps her to regulate the anxiety that she’s feeling or experiencing. Playing with animals is a big one.

Listening to music or singing. I have a client that whenever he’s feeling really, he’ll say, what really helps me is singing, so he’ll spend some time singing, hobbies, praying, and of course praying and interacting with the word of God. So important, meditating, going outside, spending some time outside. We mentioned already counseling or therapy would be really, really helpful for somebody who has had trauma, doing body scans and just noticing, and we alluded to that, just noticing in your body where the uncomfortable feelings are. Not trying to get rid of it, just noticing where it is. Really, really helpful reading if the person can read and concentrate and just building a lot of self-care.

Johnny Sanders (33:31):

Yeah, and I love that language. I think I use this on occasion too with some of my clients of that toolbox analogy. Absolutely.

Because that’s what it is, that these are tools. It’s funny with you saying that too. I tell my clients all the time that, hey, journaling can be a fantastic outlet, really can. And I always add the caveat and say, well, everything I just said I agree with, I stand behind, but I’ll let you know. I actually personally don’t have a journal. The way that I really help process through things is I’m always been a pretty good internal processor, so I’m just always thinking. So if I go and take a walk and I’m thinking through those things throughout the day, that’s kind of my version of a journal it, it’s functioning the same way, but I’m not writing that out. But my wife, she does so much better If she has that pen to paper it, it’s not as much of an internal processor like that.

So that really helps her get that out. And that’s the beauty of this is you find what works for you. I know you communicated it in that way and then just do it. And I like to constantly talk about too, and I’m curious of your thoughts on this of, I’ll say some of these concepts when it comes to either trauma work or just in general. They’re really not that complicated. It’s not that difficult to understand, but that’s fundamentally different than it being easy. Just because something isn’t all that super complicated and you need a PhD to be able to figure it out doesn’t mean that it’s easy to do. So why do you think that is something such as just going for a walk? There’s nothing hard about that. Why can that be so difficult for somebody that has dealt with trauma to do a seemingly simple test?

Dr. Mark McNear (35:31):

That’s such a great question. I think a verse comes to my mind and it, it’s in, Paul writes it in chapter two and verse four. It is the kindness of God that leads to change. And I think that for people who have been traumatized, they have not experienced a lot of kindness, and they’re not really good at being kind to themselves or compassionate to themselves. Sometimes. Sometimes people say to me, oh, no, no, I can’t do that. That’s selfish. Or I need to put other people before myself. But you know what? Sometimes you need to put yourself with self-care. You need to put yourself first so that you can take care of others and do a really good job with that.

Johnny Sanders (36:16):

I just recently had another blog. It was actually based off last word segment on the previous podcast, but it was talking about humility and it was really taking the same type of concept. I never can remember I, I need to look it up of where this quote came from, but it’s talking about humility being that you, you’re thinking of yourself less, not thinking less of yourself, of yourself.

Dr. Mark McNear (36:41):


Johnny Sanders (36:42):

That’s such a huge difference. You have to know because if it’s all about me and every single little situation, then that there probably is some selfishness that’s coming in there, but beating yourself up saying how terrible you are, that’s not being humble, that you’re just talking bad about yourself, but yourself is still there. So the reverse comes true. When you actually do healthy things, you’re going, you’re exercising, you’re eating, you’re praying, you’re going to church. Doesn’t mean your life is perfect, but things are probably going to go better. Guess what? When things are going better, you’re not thinking of yourself as much. You’re able to think about other people. Exactly. Yeah, that is a huge part point that, again, this isn’t just Christians that think that or struggle with that, but I think Christians, especially because we have some of that language of putting others above us, of putting Christ above us, and there’s great, beautiful wisdom in that, but we need to be careful about functionally of what we’re really doing with that. Because if it’s just beating myself up that that’s really not working out in our favor by doing it that way.

What are some other things? I know we’ve talked about a lot of just fundamentally great things in your story, and I certainly don’t want to give every little detail out because we want people to read this, and in fact, it just comes out better when you’re able to read it anyways. But what other things do you think listeners might really think would be impactful from either just your story as a whole or specifically from the book

Dr. Mark McNear (38:26):

Johnny? I think I wrote the book so that I could demonstrate and show a picture of somebody who really fell greatly, who made a mess of their lives, but by the grace of God got back up and I now have the privilege of being able to share with others what I’ve learned. You had alluded to the fact, and we talked about it before we were on, it’s not an easy book to read because there is a lot of abuse. There’s sexual abuse and there’s physical abuse, and there’s emotional abuse and there’s verbal abuse. But I just think that so many people encouraged me to write the book because the childhood, my childhood was so strange in so many ways from armed robberies and sexual abuse and digging holes in the wall. For my dad, I’ll say this, my dad gave us forks and knives and spoons and had us dig out a room downstairs so that he could hide valuables and money and things like that.

So I think that I wanted to write it because like I said, I thought it was a unique book about trauma and I tried. The other thing I wanted to be is really vulnerable in it, and to put away my therapist hat until the end at least, and really just talk about this guy that really got beat up in a lot of ways and was having panic attacks and rehab and felt like crawling out of his skin and had some really neat people come alongside me and really help me to learn my story and help me to be able to tolerate that story in my body. I can remember getting out of rehab and some days just being really shaking. My body would shake as I would think about the things that happened, and now I can talk about them with relative ease. So that’s the story.

I think somebody who is really fortunate to have really had a God walk with him through the valley and to come out the other side, and also as I progressed in the book, I didn’t want to be like, okay, I went through rehab, I processed this trauma and everything’s good now. I have days filled with depression. I have days filled with anxiety, I have flashbacks lessened, but I have flashbacks. So I just wanted to make it something that was like this guy’s journey, and it’s been a really good journey. I have a great marriage. My wife Debbie is just phenomenal. I have my daughter, Emily and her husband, Brandon, Emily and Brandon. They just can’t tell you how supportive they’ve been in my journey. So that has been, and also so many good friends that I’ve had that have been key in helping me. So it really takes a lot of people to have safe people though. People that can hear how much you’re struggling, struggling, and sit with you.

Johnny Sanders (41:52):

I, I’ll tell you, as you’re kind of going through just the people that are obviously so important to you, I’ll admit when I read books, I’m usually not great at either reading some of the forewords or this book is in honor of blah, blah, blah. I’ll tell you, I did for years though, and I’m so glad that I did that almost. It almost enhanced the story that much more because when I’m reading it, I intellectually understand that you’re a real person and this is your story, but I’m reading it more like a novel. This is the character in the story. It’s kind of the hero of the story that goes through all sorts of issues throughout the time. And reading those acknowledgements that took me back into is like, oh yeah, those other characters he was talking about in their, they weren’t made up. That’s not fictional. Those are real people. Yes. So you could just sense the importance of these people in your life throughout just those acknowledgements that I know you had that thing with the doctor in your rehab, which clearly was a monumental person in your life. So I think you could just really tell that importance throughout sobriety of the book too.

Dr. Mark McNear (43:19):

Yeah. And Johnny, I’m still in touch with him today.

Johnny Sanders (43:27):

We You hear me?

Dr. Mark McNear (43:29):

I can hear you. Can you hear me?

Johnny Sanders (43:30):

Yeah, sorry, it was something weird happened there.

Dr. Mark McNear (43:35):


Johnny Sanders (43:35):

Okay. I think we’re good though.

Dr. Mark McNear (43:37):

Okay. But what I was saying is I’m still in touch with that doctor today.

Johnny Sanders (43:41):

Okay, great. Great. Yeah, I think you just kind of cut out there for a little bit because I didn’t hear that part. But yeah, I think that was very well clearly communicated in the book, which I just think is so neat to see that passion of how important these people are. And that’s what I wanted to communicate too, as we discussed here and everything that I mentioned, that fictional type of book in my mind when I’m reading it and talked about you being the hero, certainly don’t want to communicate that. You’re like, oh, I’m perfect. I made it through the other side. No arrows.

Dr. Mark McNear (44:25):

I limp daily.

Johnny Sanders (44:29):

And I do think you did a good job of actually saying who the hero was so that, hey, I wouldn’t be able to make this without my faith in Christ. Absolutely. I think you did a really good job of communicating that.

Dr. Mark McNear (44:41):

Thank you. That I hope so because that’s the message.

Johnny Sanders (44:44):

Yes. Okay. One other quick thing, and this is really more so for my benefit, I didn’t have this planned. I was just curious as a clinician, I know when I was trained that it was kind of one of those, nobody told me absolutely couldn’t ever do any self-disclosure, but it was like, Hey, be careful. We don’t want to make the session about you. Have you found yourself being able to self-disclose some of this story with some of your clients? Or do you feel like you really need to separate those two things? No,

Dr. Mark McNear (45:20):

I think that the majority of my clients have read the book, so it’s not like we spend the sessions talking about it, but they will comment about certain things and certainly I will try to apply that to their life. Or I can say to them, something that I found really helpful in learning my story is to write down every trauma I talk about in the book, having to write down every trauma and then go over it. In that case, Harry Flanagan from Pure Desire. But I think that the days of not disclosing anything are kind of fading. I think people want real people that they know have worked through things. And so one of the concerns that I had, and it is a great question, Johnny, is once I put this book out, what am I going to do? Because people are going to run and I won’t have anybody to see. My business has really grown tremendously as a result of being more transparent, being more vulnerable, and being more real. Like, yep, this is what I struggle with.

Johnny Sanders (46:35):

So glad we got into this, really didn’t have this planned. But I think you’re right as far as that, and for people that maybe don’t have an idea of what we’re talking about in the counseling relationship, there is a degree. I don’t think that those warnings came from absolutely nowhere that somebody comes in and they say, well, my dog died. Oh my gosh, my dog died last year and I can’t believe how hard that was. And then just go on and on and on about myself and the client’s like, but my dog just died. I want to talk about me.

Dr. Mark McNear (47:08):

Exactly. Yeah.

Johnny Sanders (47:09):

So that’s where that’s coming from. But to your point, people want to know that you’re a person. I was really trained too on you’re this blank canvas essentially. You’re just I was

Dr. Mark McNear (47:24):

Too. Yeah, I was. You just there. Yeah.

Johnny Sanders (47:26):

And I don’t think that that is not going to say that it doesn’t work at all, but you don’t get the same impact as when you show a little bit of vulnerability and you have to have a skill with it. You have to know what benefit Is this going to bring my client?

Dr. Mark McNear (47:45):


Johnny Sanders (47:46):

I use my kids all the time in session and I do it. It’s actually a really fun way because I will be able to disarm them. They might say, I don’t know that this person’s not doing anything for me in my life, so should I just completely get them out of my life and I might use, and to kind of diffuse the situation. Well, my son doesn’t do that much for me. Should I just get rid of him and just to use that and we’ll use my son as just, that’s our logic battleground there. Let’s obviously an extreme example and they would understand that, but then we can take it back into them, but they see a human side to me, obviously I care about my son and then we can take it back to their issues. So I love that. I love that you’re able to use your story and show that we’re not blank slates, we’re not robots, especially with the rise of kind of AI stuff, chat gt yes, you know, can get that if that’s what you really want. But I don’t think that’s what we’re necessarily called to do. We’re humans.

And that’s something too in my own practice that I’ve actually seen with some pretty good feedback from people that like, wow, you, you’re open about your beliefs. I have my statement of faith that is on my website, and I make sure put it in bold there. You do not have to agree with the statement of faith.

Dr. Mark McNear (49:21):

Exactly. Yeah.

Johnny Sanders (49:23):

This is here, this is where I’m coming from. Even on my informed consent, I have that same statement of faith and have, do you agree with this? If not, why do you disagree with? And if you do disagree with it, are you okay being with me? Because yeah, if you are, great, let’s keep going, but if not, okay, we can find you someone else. And that level of vulnerability, again, not just about me and my beliefs, but somebody that’s looking for more of a Christian type of therapist that helps them feel more comfortable in that situation. So I love the fact that you’re doing that in a, you have years of experience of how to do it appropriately. I think your clients probably benefit from that vulnerability quite a bit,

Dr. Mark McNear (50:10):

That I think people are willing, what I’ve seen is people are willing to talk a lot more even about their addictive behaviors or addictions because they don’t feel the shame.

Johnny Sanders (50:20):

Yeah. And what if I feel like it’s just this person that’s given me all these red marks, oh, you did this wrong, this wrong, this wrong. Got it all figured out that, yeah, that doesn’t come across very well. Kind of on the shame, shame topic A, there’s a difference between we talked about sin of I did something wrong, I need to apologize. In that case, that guilt in that situation is actually a good thing that it points me that, Hey, I was wrong. I need to write this wrong or I need to apologize. So we don’t want to demonize any and all kind of those negative emotions, whatever we want to call it. But what is the danger of shame in particular if it just goes unchecked in somebody?

Dr. Mark McNear (51:20):

Well, yeah, and let me just back up for a minute. I think guilt is much different than shame. When we look at guilt, you know, go into a store and you steal candy and you come out and you feel badly about it, that that’s a healthy feeling, you know, have violated a store. You violated the owner, you violated others. So that’s a really healthy thing. Shame on the other side is this feeling that you’re less than, that there’s something wrong with you and that people won’t want anything to do with you. And interestingly, Johnny in the literature, the literature points to the fact that when people feel a lot of shame, they go back to their addictions. They want to self-medicate.

Johnny Sanders (52:10):

Yeah. Well, if I’m less than I’m, I’m really not that important or anything, then why shouldn’t I just go back to

Dr. Mark McNear (52:18):

It? Right? And I feel so terrible. I need to numb that pain.

Johnny Sanders (52:25):

And that’s another excellent opportunity too, on a Christian side of things of you don’t have worth because of all the great things you’ve done, because of all your accomplishments, you’re made in God’s image. So that has worth, and we believe that too, not just as Christians, anybody that the satanists that hates God, they still have worth because they’re human and yeah,

Dr. Mark McNear (52:53):

They’re image bearers from Genesis chapter one. They have been created in the image of God.

Johnny Sanders (52:59):

Yes. So we need to be able to keep that side of things in mind, whether we’re dealing with some of those shameful feelings, or if somebody is acting wrong and they are legitimately wrong, we just need to be careful that we are not putting ourselves way back above Absolutely. And that we’re way better, because again, we’re all made in this image and we need to keep that reminder. For sure. Okay. Well, any other things that you want to throw the audience away before we wrap this up?

Dr. Mark McNear (53:33):

No, I would just say that, and if I haven’t said it already, I’m a big proponent of getting to learn your story. And I think that we all have stories because in Ephesians chapter two and verse 10, it says that we are his masterpiece or we are his handiwork. And actually in the Greek, that word is po, am I, we get the word poem or poetry from that. So it’s as if God is writing our story, he’s writing a beautiful poem. And so I just encourage people to get to know their story better, the hard parts of it, as well as the parts that cause a person to feel joy.

Johnny Sanders (54:23):

Yeah. Oh, I think that’s a fantastic point. So where can they find the book and is there a way that they can find more information about you?

Dr. Mark McNear (54:33):

Yeah, so they can log on to Amazon and just look up Dr. Mark McNair, finding my words, A ruthless commitment to healing Gently after Trauma. And they can just go to Google and type in www.markmcnair.com and there will be my website and they can get in touch with me and email me from there.

Johnny Sanders (54:54):

Perfect. And I would encourage everyone to check that out. I’ll include some of these links down below in the description as well. But yeah, it really is just from whether you’re a clinician and kind of hearing a story about trauma just in general or just want to know what a healing process looks like, it really is a great, great story. It’s quite intense. But again, there’s hope, and I know you and me as well, we want everyone to know that there is hope and definitely this story’s just a great example of that. Well, it was absolutely great having you on. I really enjoyed the book. I don’t even think I mentioned this earlier too. I was actually gifted this book, so wanted to thank you for that too. You’re welcome,

Dr. Mark McNear (55:42):


Johnny Sanders (55:44):

It was like I said, a great read, so definitely check it out. I’ll include all those links down below. And until the next episode, I hope you guys have a great week.