Thursday, September 15, 2005


Part 5 of 7

I’ve had only a glimpse of suffering, just a taste of violation, betrayal, and rejection. Yet the intensity of the pain left me in shock.

From the very moment, when it seemed that my entire life crumbled, I felt the Lord's presence sheltering me. I was not rescued from the pain of this event, but I know I did not walk through it alone.

It is normal after abuse to feel confused, disillusioned, guilty, and angry. The extreme emotions in this phase can be very unsettling. The feelings of emptiness were overwhelming at times. It all seemed so unfair and so unbelievable.

I struggled with the fact that evil seemed to prevail. This was so disillusioning. I held my breath, waiting for God to smite them. I truly believed that sooner or later truth and right should win, and falseness and crookedness should fail. That isn't what happened.

I spent over a year railing against the injustice of what happened, trying to push the reality of it away, to deny its existence, to just get over it. My attempts to forgive and heal seemed fruitless at times. The reminders of what happened kept me in a perpetual cycle of forgiving repeatedly.

I longed for a short cut, an easy path to healing, but I couldn't find my way around the pain I was going through. Accepting the grieving process helped. There would be no quick cure for the grief, confusion, and pain.

My losses were many, and I acknowledged how much that it hurt. I accepted that I would have to simply experience the pain as part of the healing. This writing expresses those feelings:

IT HURTS by Jan Groenveld

IT HURTS to discover you were deceived.

IT HURTS when you learn that people you trusted were setting a trap for you.

IT HURTS when you are accused of being a troublemaker. It hurts even more when it is your friends making these accusations.

IT HURTS to realize their love and acceptance was conditional on you remaining a member.

IT HURTS to see the condescending looks on the faces of those you had befriended.

IT HURTS to know you must start all over again, to have wasted so much time.

IT HURTS to feel betrayed, disillusioned, and suspicious of friends.

IT HURTS when you feel as though you no longer fit anywhere. You want the security you felt before, yet you know you cannot go back.

IT HURTS when you feel you are all alone and that no one understands what you are feeling.

IT HURTS when you realize what you gave up, what you had invested.

I have done what I can to heal. I wrote letters of forgiveness that were never sent. I gave up my demands for justice. I forgave and let go to the extent that I am able to for now. I believe that the Lord will continue to work in my heart to increase my love for those who hurt me.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said it well in the comments from yesterday...
"It took me well over 2 years to be able to think of my former community without deep woundedness...Years later, the wound is healed, but can still ache in certain 'weather', if you catch my meaning."

Yes Jamie, I know exactly what you mean.


Pam Hogeweide said...

Grace, I thought of you tonight when I stumbled on this passage from a well-loved book I was thumbing through:

Men and women in the kingdom of God who do not have a healthy revelation of the weakness of their own flesh are dangerous if God anoints them for leadership and ministry. They can wreak havoc in the kingdom of God through spiritual pride.
There is nothing more abusive than a leader anointed in ministry who does not have a humble revelation of the weakness of his flesh. Self-righteousness, spiritual abuse, and misuse of spiritual authority can all stem from this problem.

(p.17, The Pleasures of Loving God, by Mike Bickle)

Though I personally cannot recall a time I was spiritually abused by a leader I have known others, including my husband, who have been. Ok, maybe I do recall a time or two, but it wasn't major so I just left it alone. Tricky business, isn't it, to confront those in the grip of their own self-importance and measure of ministry success?

Cindy said...

Grace, like I said before, it's been a long time of healing for me. After these 10 years I can say that I no longer see those years developing relationships and trusts were wasted years.

It does hurt to be suspicious of friends, and everyone. In spite of how it sounds, that suspicion - and those "wasted years" have brought me closer to the only One I can fully trust. Can't you now more fully understand what was meant by, "Jn 2:23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25 He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man."?

What I also see, though I don't always like it, is that I can identify much better with the disciples and Paul in the days of the early church. They didn't belong anywhere- they belonged everywhere. Likewise I still don't feel that I belong anywhere, but in many places. I'm beginning to think that's where God wants me.

Anonymous Mom said...

by sharing your story so openly and honestly, it will touch many people who have been through similar experiences. Thanks on behalf of all of us.

~WandererShe~ said...

I can identify with how you are feeling, thanks for sharing your part. I am learning over and over that truly, no-one is good, not one. I get it now - but thank God, God is good. At least we are not all alone. Thanks for your vulnerability!

Rob said...

I discovered that reading the Psalms was actually bad for me for the first few months: I kept reading stuff like "break my enemy's face, oh Lord" (that's a paraphrase), and I was unable to read those verses without putting names and faces to them!

So I focussed on the Sermon on the Mount instead. :)

Angela said...

Hello Grace! Wow! I'm amazed that your words and thoughts and feelings on this so closely resemble what I've experienced. My husband and I have twice felt the bitter sting of false accustaions, damaged relationships, wounds & scars that never go away, haunting dreams, and the pain of being "jilted". I don't know who Jan Groenveld is, but by the read of her poem I have to believe she too has walked in my shoes. And in response to Jaime's comments about woundedness...I, too, still feel twinges of pain in certain climates.
So, now, we've stepped away from our church-addicted behavior and we find ourselves wandering and wondering. Where do we go? How do we get there? What will it look like and who will share it with us? Ah, but patience is not my greatest quality!
Thank you for sharing! It matters!

Linda said...

Thanks for the excerpt Pam. I think that "leaving it alone" is a good response. It is God's business to deal with the hearts of others.

Cindy, I understand what you're saying. The stage I'm at now is learning the things I needed to learn from the experience.

well woman and sliverzgirl, thank you again for your encouraging words.

Robby, I grok. :)

Angela, it's nice to meet you. I'm sorry that you've also experienced this. I related to your last paragraph about wondering what's next. I am sometimes impatient and sometimes excited about the possibilities.

Jeff Kursonis said...

Hi Grace,

I read your whole series, and I really loved it and felt like it helped me by validating my similar experience. I am simultaneously healing while starting a new church where a culture of communion can exist, where leaders have the Fear of God in them concerning their abuse of the power they hold. Power is the key. It is not two humans having a problem, it is a human and an individual with all the religious and societal power bestowed upon him by his position as a religious leader using that "bully pulpit" to trample the human, whose very cries for help are likely to be heard as the screams of a crazed person.

We are trying to build a culture where leaders regularly take a "power abuse audit" - to review any "official" decisions made about any person they worked with to make sure that person felt served and not controlled or rejected. Even rejecting someone from becoming a deacon or whatever, can be extremely hurtful if done in the wrong way. I say, "we almost always say yes", and the only possible way to say no, is if the "no sayer" also automatically has to committ to mentor the "rejected person" until they are ready for that leadership role - therefore, because this puts the obligation of requiring more work, the leadership culture produced tends to want to say yes, more than no.

Once someone is in a new role of leadership, they are automatically going to be mentored by being around the other leaders. Often people that are rejected from a certain role because they are to young or someone doesn't think their personality is right, etc. the rejection is often followed by other leaders feeling a little awkward about it and inadvertently kind of avoiding the person - so the rejection becomes twofold. Our principle is that we rarely reject, and in the super super rare case where someone is just not ready or right, we only "reject into care" (as described above).

This and so many other principles we are developing are, we hope, the foundation of creating a "leadership culture" that is in its very nature servant based - that leaders walk around looking for who they can love, raise up, encourage, and afraid that they would ever offend one of God's precious little sheep.

Plus, and it's too lengthy for this comment, but because the whole design is such a broad leadership community with so many people involved, there is a sense that it is almost hard to notice who the leaders are, and that means each leader has to carry a lighter load because it is distributed so broadly, and everyone living together in a shared communion environment just mitigates a lot of the crap associated with leaders who are above, and hold on to power and as a result end up abusing something there not even supposed to holding on to, but laying down as they die daily for those around them.

Jeff Kursonis said...

Hey, I forgot to mention, I'm Jeff from Communion of the Arts. Thanks for your nice comment.

Trailady said...

Again, I can relate to everything you wrote in this post! Well stated. You are helping people with your openness. God bless you for being REAL!!!!!! :o)

Sharon said...

The people from our church have not shunned me. They know what was done and have said and they don't like it--that it's wrong. They have told me they do not want this to sever our friendship. In the meantime, everything goes on as usual on Sunday and though they don't like that it has been kept "hush-hush" and "swept under the rug" not one dares to directly confront the man who wears the black robe. My husbband and I were very active for 14 year and I was on staff for 7. We feel that our service was unto God and not unto men... but, when have such strong connections and then you are treated this way by leadership, you really cannot stand sitting in the pew and listening to what feels like nothing more than lies. The Sunday before the final incident happened, the sermon was about letting the mind of Christ be in you... strange how an out-of-control monster emerged the very next day after he preached those words. I attended the funeral of my very dear neighbor there at the church, only weeks after the final incident and it was so hard to hear him speak of the love of Christ... his words were empty and brought no comfort. He is an imposter in a black robe and he has no compassion. iwzbx