It Was a Friday

Posted: December 19, 2014 in Uncategorized, When Church Hurts
Tags: , ,

One year ago. It was a Friday. Last year it was the last day of school before we were to go on Christmas break. This year, while today is a Friday, we will have school for two days next week. So, it’s not quite the same. Yet today is much like that Friday one year ago.

On that day, my husband was trying to set up a meeting with church leadership to discuss the spiritually abusive treatment I had received for over a decade and the leadership’s angry response when they found out that I had broken their mandate to keep quiet about what they had done to me all of those years.

It was when my husband insisted that they would need to apologize to me if we were to continue as members of the church that he was told via email that there would be no meeting and we were no longer welcome in the church.

Isn’t interesting that in that church, something so important and life-altering as being tossed out of the church was not discussed in a face-to-face conversation? In fact, there was only one time over those many, many years of being told that I was not good enough to participate in church ministry that a person in leadership actually asked me to come into her office to deliver the news. It was a very brief meeting in which she told me that I would not be considered for a leadership position. Of the other conversations, one was made over the phone, another was on the sidewalk in front of one of the church entrances, and one from the same person with whom my husband was communicating, had also sent me an email several years ago indicating that I couldn’t even take a class.

I think about that today and am awed by the cowardice. This is a church that boasts over 2500 people crossing the threshold every Sunday. This is a church that has a multi-million dollar budget (the details of which are only known to the 3-5 people on the “executive team”). This is a church whose “weekly need” is well over $60,000 per week in order to pay the bills.

Yet, these leaders of one of the largest churches in the entire region – listed as a “mega” church on many websites, couldn’t face a humble, quiet, soft-spoken, sweet gentleman (my husband) and acknowledge that they had allowed me to be treated in such a way that my spiritual health had been massacred.

There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from their gutlessness.

They knew they were wrong.

They knew that if they had to sit down face-to-face and answer for what they had done, they would not be able to defend their behavior.

And they knew that if we were allowed to stay, there was a good chance that more and more people would become aware of the truth. And people would wonder. And people would remember others who left suspiciously. And people would ask questions that were embarrassingly difficult to answer honestly. And the pedestal would erode.

Much better to cut us off without looking either of us in the eye. Much better to order us away and tell lies and half-truths about us in order to placate people. Much better to convince anyone who might wonder or ask, that we are the bad guys.

And so I sit here, one year later, smiling as I write this. It’s a knowing smile. Because knowing the truth is emancipating.

It’s a delightful smile. Because telling the truth and putting shame in it’s proper place is joyous.

It’s a winsome smile – the smile of one who is innocent.

A year ago, on a Friday, I thought my world was crashing down. But now, I know that my world was just opening up. To freedom. To peace. To sweetness.

Welcome home, Ellen.

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Comments
  1. Been there says:

    Ellen, I first read this blog about three months ago and saw so many
    familiar issues with my own experiences I was in awe. It’s funny that
    until we start sharing with others and getting their feedback we
    always think we are the only one going through this sort of thing.
    But honestly, I can say, I too have gone through similar things in
    the church although not exactly the same.
    I too was told the pastor had no time to meet with me nor would he
    ever have the time. I was ignored repeatedly when I wanted to do
    it the biblical way (concerning confrontation). I was never given an
    explanation nor was I allowed to know who my accusers were.
    I was called out publicly in a crowded Sunday morning service. That
    was the initial thing. Then when I tried to meet with the pastor I
    was refused a meeting. When I went back weeks later, trying to
    forgive the offense and go forward, I again was rebuked publicly, only
    this time it was worse. I recall over the years hearing things here and
    there about the leadership there, but since I had not experienced
    anything in that church I kind of let it go in one ear and out the other.
    It wasn’t until I started attending years later, that I happened to be
    one of his victims, that I started seeing those reports were not
    exaggerations. The thing is, I’m tired of hearing people who have
    never had a bad experience in their church doubting the experience
    of those that have. Did I want that to happen to me? NO, of course
    not. But it did, and for awhile I thought maybe it was my fault.
    But over time, with the Lord’s help, I see I did all I could do.
    Now I actually feel sorry for those that are still there and think they
    have to stay in an abusive church. The way I feel about it now is I
    could not stay in that kind of church even if the abuse was not
    directed at me personally. Just seeing it happen to someone else
    would be enough for me to stay away. Of course I would do whatever
    I could to bring reconciliation, but sometimes no matter what we do
    or say, it falls on deaf ears.

    • Ellen says:

      We sound so very much alike. It’s always good to know when someone else “gets it.’ Unfortunately, it’s usually because they’ve been there. Those who haven’t have a difficult time believing our stories. Thank you for commenting and encouraging me and others who come here for help and hope.

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