As I have been sharing my story for the past few months, a common response has been, “He didn’t think you would stay.”

The pastor didn’t think I would stay after being told that I couldn’t participate in music.  My guess is that his experience with musicians is that they want to be on the stage, in the limelight, front and center.  What he didn’t anticipate is that I am not one of those kinds of musicians.  I don’t have a deep burning need to be up front or for others to even hear my voice.  I enjoy singing and playing various instruments, but mostly in my own living room or in my car or in my kitchen when I am home alone.  I am more a teacher – one who enjoys recognizing the gift of music in others and helping them be the best singer, player, performer they can be.  And since I do that 180 days out of the school year, my appetite for teaching is pretty well satiated.

The pastor didn’t think I would stay after being told I couldn’t attend the final spiritual gifts class – the one where we would sit with a church leader and discuss our top three gifts and how they could be used in the church.  Again, the assumption on the part of the leadership was that my top gift was music and if I couldn’t use it, I would be out of there.  Music ended up number 5 on my gift list and, as a teacher – and at that time as a teacher and team trainer in a Bible college – my gifts were being used far beyond anything I would have done in the church.  No worries.

The pastor didn’t think I would stay after being told I couldn’t do ANYTHING in the church except attend services.  What he didn’t plan on is my tenacity.  My faith is tenacious.  I believe in loving people through, and in spite of, and no matter what.  I believe in grace and forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration.  I believe that God works everything together for good and that given enough time, and the opportunity to talk, one day, all would be well.

The pastor didn’t think I would stay if this decree, this judgment, this ostracism went on long enough.  It was a stare down.  Who was going to blink first?  I didn’t blink.  For more than a decade, I didn’t blink.  And neither did he.

The pastor didn’t think I would ever be so bold as to challenge the abuse I had been experiencing in a public forum.  So when I stood up in front of more than 300 people at a Journey to Wholeness conference and declared that I was the victim of a lack of forgiveness on the part of the church, that must have been stunning.  But not stunning enough for him to initiate a conversation with me about my plight.

The pastor didn’t think I would be so bold as to ever share, even privately, on my blog the full and complete story of my shunning and ostracism.  Because when you are shunned and ostracized, you must have done something truly awful.  Churches just don’t shun and ostracize people for no good reason, they think. And no one wants to consider the fact that the “good reason” might just be because the pastor simply doesn’t like being held accountable.  Nor will they ever speak out loud that the person being ostracized simply doesn’t have the right last name, doesn’t live in the right neighborhood, doesn’t make or give enough money, and therefore, doesn’t deserve to be there and, since it doesn’t affect them, they really don’t care.

The pastor didn’t think I would wait to leave until I was flat out told to go.  He thought that I would take the hint with that very first meeting with the Personnel Committee.  And then with the ostracism.  With his lack of response as he ignored my pleas for answers and for help.  He didn’t plan on someone who truly believes all that he was preaching about.  Someone who would not be easily offended.  Someone who is long-suffering because they will know we are Christians by our love.  Someone who believes that if Jesus never leaves or forsakes us, why would I leave or forsake the church?

And finally the day came when he blinked.  The stare down was over.  But it wasn’t the God-glorifying Jesus is Lord ending.  It was the Pharisaical “you’re not good enough and we don’t want you here” ending that he always wanted – message finally delivered in no uncertain terms.

Still, I believe.  In grace. In forgiveness. In reconciliation. In restoration.

Still, I have not blinked.

 

 

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Comments
  1. A. Amos Love says:

    Bravo – Great Post

    “The pastor didn’t think I would stay…”

    “It was a stare down. Who was going to blink first? I didn’t blink. For more than a decade, I didn’t blink. And neither did he.”

    “And finally the day came when he blinked.”
    ——–

    My experience only lasted six months. In a ministry I was with for three years, full time, five days a week, volunteer, NO pay, feeding, praying for, with, the poor, in vacant lots, on the streets.

    Very uncomfortable knowing they did NOT want me there.

    They asked me NOT to talk to anyone about Jesus. NO more Bible Studies, praying for, ministering to those who came. Those who I loved.

    I could still work – But NO talking about Jesus…
    “The pastor didn’t think I would stay…”

    But – I could NOT leave…

    Jesus said, “Serve.” And I continued to serve.

    I just kept on showing up, cleaning the parking lot, taking care of the garbage dumpster, vacuuming the rugs, doing food pick ups, serving the ministry and serving people.

    “And finally the day came when the pastor blinked.”

    And I was asked to leave… Ouch!!! 😦

    Thank you for your story…

    Jesus loves you this I know…

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