Sunday, October 15, 2006

Blogging the Journey

The circumstances at our former church came to a head in the spring of 2004. This led to our resignation and our decision to leave that church. It was one of the only times that I have been in a truly lose/lose situation. We were faced with the choice of submitting our lives to lies and more abuse or leaving the group of people who had been our church family for many years.

At the time we left, we felt that the Lord's instruction to us was to leave quietly, neither to accuse others nor defend ourselves. The walking out of this has been extremely difficult and lonely. It required silence on my part as friends sung the praise of those who had intentionally hurt us. It required allowing our reputation to be maligned by these same people without setting the record straight.

Most difficult of all, it required letting go of my desire to see justice. At first, I was convinced that their plans would fail because they were wrong. When I saw no evidence of that, I became discouraged and angry. I had to get to the point where I truly left the outcome of it all in His hands, trusting that His ways of dealing with it would be better than my imagined expectations.

The other aspect of this that has been really hard is that they, my family, were all still happily together. I have hated being the pitied fool who walked away from the perfect church. Even with the few people who have remained friends, it has been difficult retaining the friendship across the chasm that the church situation created.

When we left, I was so confused and alone, and I had no one to talk to. Wanting to understand, I went to Google. (I know, you thought I was going to say God. I went to Him too.) I'm not sure that the term abuse was even in my vocabulary yet. I typed in hundreds of interesting search phrases about church government and improper leadership in churches.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered the Spiritual Abuse Recovery Forum. I joined there in December of 2004, almost a year after the actual abuse. It was the first place I could talk openly about what had happened. It was an important part of my healing.

Also, in my internet searches, I came across Len at Next Reformation. I used to visit his website every day. I didn't know it was a blog, I didn't even know what a blog was. I just knew he posted new stuff on his "website" every day. He also had many articles in his archives that were really helpful to me in beginning to see church differently.

After I had been reading at his site for some time, I discovered that one could click on a commentor's post and visit their "website." I believe it was through this process or by clicking on a link that I discovered Brother Maynard at Subversive Influence.

The important thing about discovering Brother Maynard was that he spoke my language. Our church backgrounds are so similar that I could immediately relate to what he was saying. At the time I started reading there in March of 2005, he was doing the series, "I Long for a Church..." These were seriously mind-boggling ideas to me at that time.

It was around that time that he also asked for prayer for his friends Robbymac and Wendy who were going through a difficult church situation. This led me to Robby's blog where I began reading about his journey and his thoughts about church and leadership. Like Brother Maynard, Robbymac also spoke my language. It probably isn't surprising that I initially resonated with some of the charismatic voices in the conversation.

I wish I could remember the actual moment when the light bulb came on, and I finally understood what a blog is. At some point, I realized that there was a world of people out there writing about things that I was interested in reading. Each blog was a treasure, just waiting to be unearthed. This was a season of discovery as I came across many of you who are now on my blogroll.

I believe it was someone at the spiritual abuse forum who actually tipped me over the edge to consider having my own blog. They were explaining it to someone else, and I thought, "I could do that."

And you know the rest of the story, a visit to blogger.com and 1,2,3, a new blog is born. In July of 2005, I was welcomed into the blog world.

Now, 200 posts later, I have a record of the ups and downs (mostly downs) of this journey, a record of the process of exploring beliefs and ideas, a record of sharing some of the rough spots along the way and receiving encouragement and love from people who only know the words that I write.

This morning I went back and skimmed old posts, remembering how it has been. This process has been surreal from day one, a strange and twisted path I never expected to traverse. How did we ever end up here?

My journey is taking an unexpected turn. The reason I am remembering, the reason I am pausing, is to place a marker at this point in the road.

What's next? I'm not sure yet, but you, my friendly strangers and strange friends, will be the first to know.

7 comments:

trace said...

I can relate. I too left 'the perfect church.' Although it was many years ago, the pain of broken relationships and judgment, still lingers. I was young in my faith back then, so the experience really shattered not only my faith but my self-esteem and confidence as well. Spiritual abuse - for me, it was emotional abuse as well. I don't wish it on anyone.
Glad you're in a better place now.

Anonymous said...

Heya Grace

Isn't it interesting to go back and read the documentation of your journey? I just did some of that and am amazed at where I've been. I also love how this blogging thing brings us together with precious, like-minded people that we would otherwise never have known.

Thanks for the sharing you've done. I can't count the times you have encouraged me.

Love from one of your "strange friends",

Lily

Pam Hogeweide said...

i'm so glad you started blogging. ya know, i've made a new friend here because of you. Lily and I live in the same city and it was your blog that brought us together. We might be getting together for lunch (again!) this weeek and next month we are attending a conference together (www.revolutionconference.com)

Thanks EG for blogging. The blogosphere wouldn't be the same without you!

Robbymac said...

Grace,

I just read your post out loud to Wendy, and we both were so struck by the similarities between our journey and yours, that we figure that if we all ever sat down for BBQ and brews together, we could probably finish each other's sentences!

Your voice in the Blog Collective is a very welcome one. I'm glad you were assimilated! :)

Looking forward to hearing whatever is "next"!!

Anonymous said...

grace,

Even though I am from a "cessationist" fundamentalist (anti-charismatic) background, it is remarkable to see how similar our language is. When it comes to abuse, there is nothing under the sun.

It has been a privilege to part of your journey.

Lorna said...

glad you took time to lay down this marker. I've only just found your blog and I love it already.

be blessed :)

wilsonian said...

It's an amazing thing that though you lost what you "wanted" ie. a church famiily, you gained what you "needed" ie. fellowship, support, and deep love in Christ.

Cool :)