Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Betrayal, When It Gets Personal

Part 3 of 7

A quick turn of the wrist, and the knife was in our back. The leadership had turned on us.

The shepherds were deeming us the black sheep of the family. We were stripped of our reputation and rejected by those we loved and trusted.

There was nothing they could accuse us of other than questioning our motives and loyalty. We had served in our role wholeheartedly.
Curiously, not a single person mentioned concerns before the showdown. There was no Matthew 18 attempt to work things out, simply a trap to accuse.

We were portrayed as the enemy. A plot was conspired to destroy us. How could they treat us this way?

It still amazes me that one man's evil intent could produce so much destruction in my life and end so many relationships that I thought were real.

Many of the effects of the abuse are irreversible. There are things that can't be undone. The smear to our reputation and the damage to our relationships will never be mended.

I will never again be the person I was before this. It isn't possible. The wounds will heal, but the scars will always be there. I am learning to accept the damage and scars.

I do feel similar to a victim of incest, like I am the one carrying around the dirty secret. Even though I was the victim, somehow the shame also ended up on my shoulders.

I will not participate in the culture of silence. Perhaps the church doesn't want to acknowledge the ugliness that happens behind closed doors. To shame a victim of abuse into silence is to violate them once again.

It happened. I didn't choose it. It can't be dressed up to look nice. It was ugly, and it was wrong.

Although I'm telling my story now, that doesn't mean that I live in the bitterness of it. In fact the opposite is true. God has been faithful to gently lead me through the healing process.

By His grace, I relinquish my need for justice.
By His grace, I choose to forgive and love.

"There is the power to create and love and there is the power to de-create and hate. One exists forever, the other is a passing shadow no matter how dark and ugly at the moment."


CaseyD said...

Grace, I wonder if you will take the attitude of Christ in all this...

"..and he said nothing to his accusers..."

".. and love covers over a multitude of sin...

".. love does not delight in bring up and offence..."

".. bears no record of wrong..."

"..repeating a matter separates friends..."

I am concerned about the consequences of your bleeding heart... Do not let in defile others...

(the reason I post this publicly, is because you choose to post this publicly, therefore you also have the option of delteing my post for better more sweet sounding words)

I just wonder...if we could allow the process of restoration to take more time before we discuss our woundings with the world. The shame it communicates can destroy faith and cause fear and suspicion to root itself in hearts...

I wonder...

grace said...

I am sorry that you believe me to be unChristlike and defiling.

In leaving, my husband and I neither accused our abuser nor defended ourselves. The false accusations have been left to stand in our community.

We are the ones who live with the condescending looks and being treated like a leper.

Not to worry, no one suspects a thing. So the person who did this can continue in his position, surrounded by those who will pat him on the back and tell him how wonderful he is.

If any of my 6 readers are bothered by these posts, I hope you will please skip them. I'm sure I'll be on to more trivial things soon.

My intention hasn't been to bleed, ask for pity, or stir up hatred. The things like this that happen are sadly all too common.

As long as we protect those incidents as a well-guarded secret for fear of shattering the facade, the root ot the problem will never be addressed.

"Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!" says the LORD. (Jer23:1)

"Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them." (Ezekiel 34:10)

"for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven." (Matthew 23:2-9)

I wonder also.

Pam Hogeweide said...

HI Grace,

Casey said , "I am concerned about the consequences of your bleeding heart... Do not let in defile others..."

Um, I'm ok with that. Bleed away on me. I don't feel defiled at all. I choose to read your blog. If I get queasy around blood than perhaps I ought to be careful where I hang out, like not around bleeding people.

I think the reminder Casey is stating here is good, yes, forgiveness and love and all of that is good, we're all mature Christians and we know about Love Thy Neighbor and Forgive those who tresspass against us. However, when there is injustice and hypocrisy the bible does not tell us to stay quiet as if that was the only godly response. Yes, Jesus was unjustly accused and led like a lamb to slaughter...But, Who preached love and mercy to Jesus when he went after the moneychangers in the temple or called the religious leaders of his day (publicly) "white washed tombs"? He was quite violent about exposing the wrongs here. If Jesus had a blog I wonder what words he would have for leaders who abuse those who trust them?

Hey, there's a new slogan, What would Jesus blog? WWJB

Spiritual abuse is wrong. Slander is wrong. And sometimes silence is wrong, too, because it enables evil to flourish.

I'm sure Casey means well. But I respectfully disagree with their view point.

Keep it coming to the light Grace. Seems to me wounds heal faster anyway when they are exposed.

fr'nklin said...

There is nothing "hateful" or "shameful" in this post. It is softly stated. I saw my parents go through something that sounds very similar...and they healed...but it took TIME. What "the church" has done over and over again to countless people is sinful...there is no shame in admitting that. I remember the words of Steve Brown: "The Church is a whore, but she is your mother." The incest analogy is probably closer to the truth than we might want to admit.

I've had my own dark nights of the soul...I do see some sunlight now...but it still seems as if it's always threatening to rain. Much grace to you and your husband. Jesus is a wonderful friend...counselor...king...brother...and shepherd...

Rich said...


My wife and I in many ways are still in recovery from a prior abuse at the hands of a church leader. I know the hurt. I know the disappointment. I the feelings of betrayal.

I also have witnessed God restore us and I pray the same for you and your husband. Stay strong sister...

With Love,

The Wagners

Cindy said...

Grace, just to agree as well, I read no malice or accusation in your posts. I need the e-church, to calm my spirit and provide acceptance and community in a way that my local church cannot. I think the blog world is a gift God has given to many of us for the healing of our heart-wounds and the encouragement of our spirits. Peace, Grace.

grace said...

Casey, your comments are welcome here. I might not always agree with them, but I won't delete them.

Pam, your thoughts are always so well expressed. Thank you for saying what I meant. :)

fr'nklin, your encouraging words meant a lot to me today. I pray for more sunlight for you also.

rich, I'm sorry you've gone through the same thing. We are recovering also, not always as fast as we'd like, but definitely healing and growing.

Cindy, I appreciate the e-friends I have made here. I see the emerging conversation as a group of people encouraging one another in whatever God has next. It has meant a lot to me to join in the conversation.

CaseyD said...

I understand how easy it is to read between the lines in Cyberspace.

My Comments, were in regards to the attitude of the posts that 'may' be percieved by some as 'wounded'. I in no way called you 'unChristlike'.

I have been watching the Blogsphere for about four years.

My observation so Far...

"many of those that are Christian Bloggers, now do not participate in a 'local church'"

"most, the reason is due to a wounded or broken experience with a local church"

"most now find church online, thus Resonate, Allelon, Ginkworld, THe Ooze, etc. (christian online communities?? can there be such a thing??"

These are just observations... I am just watching and questioning... wondering ...

Whatis really happening here?

I maybe disagreed with, but I am ok with that. I will endeavor tocontinue to communicate my observations and wonder aloud...

THanks for the opportunity to do that "Grace"...

grace said...

This will be a good discussion to have at some point. I think I've hit aspects of it in various points.

My understanding and perception is that most of the participants in the groups you mentioned are intent on being the church in their daily life and enjoy gathering with other believers, although their gatherings may not include bylaws and staff.

But this gets into the issue of what constitutes church and which expressions of church are we willing to consider as legitimate, which is one of the main underlying themes in the emerging conversation.

Have a good day in England.

grace said...

"in various POSTS."

Todd said...

as a pastor. reading things like this is very healthy for me. thank you for your honesty.

grace said...

Thanks for your comment todd.

Depending on the government structure, pastors are also sometimes the victims of this kind of abuse.

Trailady said...

Grace, pay NO attention to Casey D. He/she is the perfect example of the "protect the church at all cost" mentality. By his response, I seem to detect a small amount of guilt. Hmmmm. I received similar criticism on my blog for posting my 'Long Road' series. I think you are doing a very healthy thing here. You are expressing what happened without mentioning names of persons or the church where all this happened. It is obvious to me that you are not intending to sling hash, but to make sense of a VERY painful situation. The Bible quotes that your critic mentioned don't necessarily apply here. Does this person go to the church where your bad experience happened? Where was this Casey with quotes during your betrayal? Instead of correcting you, he should be comforting you. The pain that you feel is searing upon the heart- I know because I'm there right now...

Truly some of your innocence has been lost. It will be difficult to trust again. Mourn your losses. Keep handing your broken heart to Jesus and you will be strengthened. By the sound of it, you are already on the path to healing.

Love & Prayers to You!!!!

PJ said...

I have read all your spiritual abuse series and the "how to ruin a church" post. I hope you don't mind, but I linked it to my blog. (I'll remove it if you do.) My wife and I left our church of 13 years last summer. We were in full-time ministry there for 11 years as associate pastors and your story is mine, too. I can almost put people's names in spots of your story. The only difference I can see was I was paid staff, and that my pastor was in the same situation as I was, dealing with an apostle. I would love to talk to you sometime. Maybe you can check out my blog and email me and we can talk. Thanks for sharing your story. The good thing is that we find out because of it, we're not alone. The bad thing is we're not alone. This ought not happen in the Body of Christ. This is not the Church Jesus built. Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

Seed of Life Kuwait practices these abuses.This article is a life saver for anyone trapped.

Ronni said...

I know this is an old post... but for some reason God brought me here. I'm dealing with my own betrayal, and it hurts deeply, and leaves me wanting to know why. I really don't have the words to express it. You have. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am thankful that you are posting these blogs on abuse in churches.
Such things are more common than I thought and it is only our enemy that wants none of this in the open. Why? Because if the sin gets uncovered, it would take the eyes of Christ's members off of the the "local" gathering and men therein and place them more clearly upon the Head.
Also a comment about keeping quiet about it: the Corinthian believers were told to put out from among them the believer praticing a habitual sin. They were to do this, practicing love at the same time. The sin was to be noted, but the sinner loved. This is the balance. Not talking about it and hiding the sin is not a biblical approach. It is a major offense to the Head of the Body to have a part usurping it's place as lord.
Keep up the gracious outpouring. ;)

Sharon said...

I am grateful for your blog. I have found some healing here. I still cannot think about what happened without crying. A pastor should not say and do the things that were done to me and the leadership is culpable because they care not what he has done. I was there for 14 years as an active member with my husband and on staff for 7. Sweeping the dirt under the rug and hiding it from sight doesn't clean it out the house either. This just happened a few months ago we are still so devasted.

Jo said...

I feel the need to share because I am so profoundly frustrated at Casey's initial response.

Silence is what helps abuse continue.

I feel as though Christians have not been taught with how to deal with abuse, manipulation and control and instead walk into it with beliefs that one should never confront abusive behavior. We somehow pick up down the road that we should keep quiet about pain, that we should let people walk all over us. I had to learn the hard way that this is not healthy. In my opinion it fosters a low self-esteem and low sense of self. I know many people have successfully responded to this already, I just felt I needed to add more information.

The fact is, all of those scriptures are true in context. The trouble comes when you remove scripture from context and use it with your own interpretation and your own use. This is exactly what can happen with spiritual abuse.
"..and he said nothing to his accusers..."- is taken out of context. This is what Jesus was called to. We are in no way called to be abused by our leaders, especially our spiritual leaders- and say nothing. There is a way in which we can "speak the truth in love" without being the "accuser" of the brethren. Leaders (and all Christians) should be held accountable for their actions, and they should be open to constructive criticism.

I experienced a situation in which a man was stalking me who claimed that God told him that we were to be married. His actions were incredibly violating and emotionally abusive (very much like a rape- except the violation happened over and over). I felt as though I was going crazy because this man would not leave me alone. He would drive by my house a few times a day, he would be parked outside of my house when I would come home, he would call all hours of the night, leave gifts for me, sit outside my apartment all day and "pray for me" and in the middle of this he was charming all of the leaders, and all of my friends. Taking them out for dinner and being their best friend. My pastor even said that it was just because he "really liked me".

I was trying to keep my distance, have boundaries and I was also trying to be a "good" Christian. I was trying to do the "biblical thing". But nothing worked. I tried to only tell those I thought needed to know (so as not to slander his name). And do you know what happened? I became isolated which led to me being suicidal. A friend was trying to have me reconcile with this man who believed he was hearing from God (and everything he did he claimed God told him to do) and when I told her I couldn't be around him because of what was going on, she said- "Don't let the devil win".

We are not trained in the church how to stand up to evil. Thankfully there are groups like International Justice Mission (IJM.com) who are speaking out against injustice.

I was a victim, and because of what I was taught- I did not stand up for myself in the way that I should have, and in the way that others should have encouraged me to do. This may be an extreme example, but this violation of power happens a little bit every day in churches around the world. Between friends and pastors.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. And that freedom is about honesty- not slander. But we also must protect ourselves and others from this kind of abuse. I pray this man has healed- and thankfully he has moved on and got married- but I pray that he is still not deceived into thinking it was my "free will" that stopped God's will from happening. Because that was one of the last conversations we had. And if he is still walking around believing that, than someone else can easily be mistreated and abused. Maybe not in the same way- but abused none the less.