Faith.

Family.

Kindness.

Respect.

Honesty.

Integrity.

Generosity.

Transparency.

Adherence to scripture.

Hard work.

Pursuit of Excellence.

These are the values that my husband and I agree are important to us.

Yet, as we talked about our values at a workshop this weekend, we came to realize that we spent years allowing a few of those values to be compromised.  And by allowing compromise, we put ourselves in a position to be deeply wounded.

Part of the workshop this weekend was to contemplate the gap between what our values are and reality.  We were encouraged to “mind the gap” – to live in such a way that the values we espouse are evident in the way that we live our lives.

It was in considering these values that we realized that we spent years allowing our values to be compromised.

We value integrity.  Yet for years, we would say to one another, “How can the pastor preach grace and forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation, and yet he is allowing this ostracism, condemnation, and wounding to continue?”

We value respect.  Yet for years, I was not treated with respect by the leadership of the church.  Leaders told me I was unfit to serve but would not tell me why.  The pastor would not respond to my requests for answers, my requests for meetings, my requests for grace, my attempts to guess what I had done and pleas for forgiveness.

We value honesty.  Yet for years, I was lied to by the pastor who claimed he knew of no reason why other leaders chose to ostracize me.  He claimed that he “doesn’t make all the decisions around here.” Yet, in the end, his brother let us know that it was the pastor who was behind all of the condemnation I had experienced. This same brother is the one who stood up in front of an entire room full of people and blatantly lied to all of us.

We value transparency.  But when the church became less and less transparent in many ways, but probably most notably with finances, we didn’t question.  Even though we would never donate money to an organization that will not release the specifics of their finances, we continued to give – and even gave with increasing generosity – without knowing specifically how the money was being used.

We value adherence to scripture – most notably Matthew 18 in our situation.  Yet, as much as I begged for Matthew 18 in my experience, it was consistently denied.  When accusations were made to the pastor and he met with me to address them, when I asked where my accusers were, his response was that they wouldn’t approach me on their own first.  When I asked for a leader to go with me for the second step of Matthew 18 after my going to the person on my own, the leader insisted that instead of two of us going, as scripture states, it should be an entire committee.  The results were disastrous and completely opposite what the leader had told me was going to happen. Not only was Matthew 18 not followed as I had requested, it was not followed in the way the committee then attacked me.  If I had truly been the problem that needed to be addressed, the person with the concern should have spoken to me individually first.  The entire situation was handled very poorly once I asked for help.

We value faith – a faith that says we can admit our faults and failures and find grace and forgiveness.  No one in leadership in the church has ever been able to come to us and admit fault in handling anything poorly, in wounding me so deeply, or in contributing to the shaming that came when I was condemned, ostracized, and shunned for more than 10 years.

Staying in a place with people who were so bent on wounding me so deeply for so long and without regret – this was a blatant compromise of several of our values.  We are guilty of not “minding the gap” by removing ourselves years earlier from an institution whose leadership did not reflect those things that we hold dear.

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