Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Posted: December 15, 2015 in Uncategorized, When Church Hurts
Tags: , , , , , ,

We are approaching our second anniversary of being told that we were not to return to the church.  Whenever I think about that day (which isn’t often), I remember calling my (former) friend, whom I will call “Martha,” and telling her, “We are going to lose all of our friends.”

“No, you won’t!” she insisted.  “There are lots of people who love you and they aren’t going to abandon you.”

Martha stuck with me for a few months.  But then the expectation that we be shunned kicked in and I haven’t heard from her in at least a year-and-a-half.

Funny thing is, Martha (and a very few others), had heard or read my story of how the church leadership had been abusing me for over a decade, long before we were kicked out.  This small inner circle of friends knew about my blog and some had even followed it (one still does) and not one of them made the decision to shun me simply based on the fact that I was telling or sharing my story, either in person or on the blog.

Those who had heard my story were compassionate, empathetic, confused about the reason (as was I), and supportive.

Until we were tossed aside by the leadership.

At that point, nothing had changed.  I hadn’t embarked on a campaign to promote my blog to the masses.  I hadn’t made loud or overt public statements to the congregation or community about the abuse.

The only thing that changed was that the leadership became aware that I had “told.”  

Isn’t it curious that while the people I had “told” had been “told” months and years before and our friendships blossomed and grew as a result of my transparency until the leadership found out.  

I can only surmise that for those who had been my friends to admit that they were “in the know” about what the leadership had done to me for over a decade, would bring condemnation upon them, as well.  So, they had to feign ignorance, shock, and chagrin on behalf of the leadership – which also required that the act in a manner that convinced the leadership of their agreement and support.

And that meant shunning us.

Friendships that fail due to fear of being judged by church leaders.  

Well, I don’t have to tell you what to think of that.

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Comments
  1. Celeste says:

    Friendships are treasures and become woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. It is a seriously negative approach when church leaders use brainwashing to pull your friends away from you. It will have far reaching affects in the community. Those who chose to separate themselves from you are practicing a new, unhealthy way to go through life. And to think their learned it in the church. Ugh!

  2. Celeste says:

    As you experience your second Christmas season outside of this church, I hope you are able to see with fresh eyes, the many treasures that are woven through this season. May you worship at the manger with a deeper sense of God’s provision for hope and healing through the birth of Jesus. Merry Christmas, new friend!

  3. Sandy says:

    It’s been over six years since it was suggested my family leave the church I loved in my rural community. Opposing verbatim plagiarism and personal stories of other ministers as his own resulted in the suggestion we leave the church, I am sure he was embarrassed but he resorted to name calling and pitting members against each other rather than saying he needed to be more faithful to his pastoral duties. more Amazingly those who suggest we leave did not even live in my community. Of course a couple of friends called asking we not us to leave and one explained it this way ” We don’t want people to say we ran you off ” when in fact they did.
    One never gets over the rejection and name calling that comes from church but you move on and trust God so much more , There are wonderful people in God’s church who love as God called us to but there are also many with personal agenda for titles , power and seats of honor.
    There are to many stories of abuse in the church today,

  4. Dave says:

    John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

    I can’t even imagine what contortions the church must go through to convince themselves that they are following Jesus’ instruction in this passage. They may think that you damaged the witness of the church by “telling,” but Jesus’ words make it clear that they destroy their own witness by not loving.

    The loss of friends is difficult enough. The loss of friends who knew details of your story is far worse and must be so painful at times. I can only imagine how much hurt you have borne through this.

    The world watches those who claim the name Christian, and the world is quite adept at spotting two faults, among others: hypocrisy and an unloving attitude. The damage done to the message of the gospel is evident and far-reaching.

  5. I know this is littering your blog with comments, but just came upon it today and your story really resonates. There are few things more painful than being abused spiritually and treated like a leper by ones whom you thought were friends, when all you wanted was to be treated decently by people whom you thought were followers of Jesus. The last three years since we were jettisoned from/left our second abusive church have been more painful than the years following my father’s death. In a way it’s like a death.

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