Posted: December 14, 2014 in Uncategorized, When Church Hurts
Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday, I was asked to list three things that have happened in the past year that I can celebrate. Immediately, I wrote that both of my sons graduated from college and both have jobs in their fields of study – not always an easy task these days.

My second item of celebration was that I became a grandmother for the first time. No one ever told me that I would become addicted to my granddaughter and that I would need a “baby fix” every few days – but it’s true! I am so blessed to have her nearby so I can see her often.

But then I got to the third thing. And I wrote about being tossed out of the church. Sometimes, it’s in writing and just letting the words flow through my fingertips that I realize something really important, and as I wrote, that’s exactly what happened. And the “something really important” that I realized is this:

I can set the bar for other people.

You see, one of the major incidents in my spiritual abuse story is that when I was told that I could not do anything in the church except attend services. When I asked why, I was told that they could not/would not give me a reason or tell me what I had supposedly done. When I asked what I would have to do to regain the privilege of serving or participating in church activities, I was told that they would simply be “watching” me and that if they saw what they wanted to see, someday I “might be invited” to take a class or two that would instruct me in the ways that I should behave. I immediately pointed out that, not only was this unscriptural, but I also made the point that since they would not tell me what I had done wrong they were setting an invisible bar for me.

What I didn’t realize then, and hadn’t put into words until I began writing about it, is that while they were setting a bar for me, I could also set a bar for them – as well as other people in my life. One of the key things I have come to realize over this past year (I was tossed out on December 20, 2013) is that I have the power to set a bar for people and if they don’t measure up to it, I don’t have to allow them in my life.

So, while yes, I was tossed out of the church, I could have done much more and tried much harder to rectify the situation. I could have groveled and begged and argued and shamed myself in a desperate attempt to continue to reach that bar that was set for me for all of those years. But instead, I reclaimed my power to set a bar for the church. Not only the church leadership – the senior pastor, his brother (the pastor who told us not to come back), the lay-leader of the congregation, but also those who claimed to be my friends but really weren’t.

I set a bar that there are certain behaviors that they must exhibit in order to win back a positive position in my life.

Over this past year, without really thinking about it, I have been living out this “setting the bar” practice in many of my “relationships” outside the church, as well. For example, I have “unfriended” people. I have said “no” to requests to have lunch or coffee with people who I have realized are toxic. I do not allow people who exhibit a pattern of diminishing me or others to have a prominent place in my life.

From my experience with spiritual abuse, I know how important it becomes to want to live up to whatever the church leadership is demanding and often, that people-pleasing mentality spills over into lots of other relationships and we get taken advantage of not only by the church but by people outside of the church, as well.

May I encourage you to set the bar? And if people aren’t measuring up, walk away. Unfriend. Take control.

And celebrate!

  1. […] just read a post yesterday that really nailed this idea of setting the standard for the people you allow to be in […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s