Friday, 25 July 2014

Just Get Over It!

Rotten ecards

Imagine you were part of a circle of friends, many of whom you'd known for a long time. You are close, you often spend time together in each other's company. Everyone tells you how much they love you and value you. You feel happy and accepted.

Now imagine that things start to change. In subtle, and not-so-subtle, ways you start to feel pressured to conform to expectations you never agreed to. To comply with other people's dictates. Eventually, things become more overt and these friends start to slap you around.

You object.

You might even fight back.

But they club together. And one day, they gang up and beat you up so badly that you can't even get back on your feet. Bones are broken. Flesh is bruised.

You plead for justice. For your wounds to be tended. For them to love you once again.

And they turn and say, "Oh, we're sorry that you feel hurt."

You look at them incredulously.

They continue, "We've said sorry and we feel ok now. We've moved on. You need to do the same. Just forgive us and get over it."

You protest.

So they turn away. They can't be around someone so bitter and unforgiving!

Does this sound at all familiar? Have you experienced this type of behaviour?

I ask this because something I read the other day reminded me that this was what happened to me. I came across across this article in a Newsletter written by Leslie Vernick. The context is domestic abuse, but the principle applies to any type of abusive situation.
After having said, “I’m sorry” often the destructive spouse believes he or she is now entitled to amnesty, forgiveness, and full restoration of marital privileges without ever having to make amends, suffer long-term consequences, or work hard to repair and rebuild trust. Sometimes we collude with such unrealistic and unbiblical thinking pressuring the injured spouse to forgive and reconcile. 
But if she’s not yet ready, or refuses to grant amnesty, or restore full marital privileges until she sees evidence of repentance, we often start to label her as ungracious, ungodly, rebellious, and hard-hearted. Instead of being supported and validated for the pain she’s in, she now feels pressured, scolded, shamed or scared for her “unbiblical” stand or refusal to fully reconcile.
Thank God, I'm in a much better place these days!

But what if you're not? What if you are being pressured to forgive and move on - to "just get over it"?

If that is where you are, I want to share the truth with you.

It is not unforgiving to refuse to trust someone who has betrayed your trust. You are not being bitter if you insist that words are meaningless without the actions to back them up.

You are not ungodly or unrighteous if you hold out for evidence of repentance! You are WISE!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Surprising Discovery

Desktop Nexus

The realisation suddenly hit me the other day that I've never in all my life felt more confident or more comfortable with who I am. I'm more at ease, relaxed, at rest, in knowing who I am.

I no longer feel I have to prove anything to anyone. That I have to live up to someone else's expectations. Fit into someone else's box.

And it's a good feeling!

But it's rather ironic.

I spent all those years "going to church", trying to be a "good christian", doing what I was told. Believing that if I did and said all the right things I'd feel the peace and joy I was promised.

But it always eluded me. For years. I'd catch glimpses but then it was gone. Maybe if I just worked more, tried harder, was more submissive to those 'over' me…

And then came the betrayal. And all the words I'd put my hope in proved hollow. All the answers, worthless. It took pain and suffering to make me question. To rebel. Turn heretic.

I let go. I stopped trying. I gave up.

And amazingly, the peace and the joy I strived so hard to achieve are now discovered floating gently into my life and settling around me like feathers.

In being rejected I found love.

I turned to the One who made me and I trusted.

I learned to know and embrace who I am. To be at peace being me.

And I stumbled upon acceptance.



What a wonderful discovery!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Righteous Response or Manipulation?

In my post, Magic Words Syndrome, I wrote about a particular board member who does a lot of counselling and mediation work in churches. One of the questions he often asks when someone has an issue with another person's behaviour or attitude is, "What is your righteous response?"

In other words, "How do you think Jesus would want you to respond to what you have experienced?

Now this is not a bad question to ask. What would Jesus want us to do? What behaviour might he have modelled that he would want us to use as a guide? On the face of it, this was an entirely appropriate question to ask.

The trouble lies in the presupposition which lurks within this question - the assumption that Jesus would tell us to be 'nice' and then insist that we 'submit to authority'.

I wrote about one of those mediation sessions in my post, Jesus the Buddhist? That was the first time I had used the "A" word.


Finally, I was admitting (to myself and those involved) that I felt abused by the bullying, controlling behaviour of elder J and his wife.

But this was given no credence by those present. I was told that while this might be my reality the actual issue was, "What is your righteous response?"

Of course, the 'correct' answer was to forgive and forget. And stupidly, desperately, I played my part in the game. Did exactly what was expected of me.

Which meant that I just continued to be bullied and abused… until I longed for oblivion.

And there was nothing I could do about it because "everything had been dealt with" and I had "promised not to bring it up again".

But nothing had been dealt with! So I did bring it up again. Which proved how 'unforgiving' and 'bitter'  I was. And I was damned for 'going back on my promises'. And the abusive cycle just kept rolling...

So what was the righteous response I should have given?

Walk away.

Refuse to be manipulated.

Imitate Jesus.

There were plenty of times when the religious leaders of Jesus' day tried to manipulate and control him. They tried to trap him with his own words, they tried to force him to behave 'acceptably', they tried to bully and abuse him.

But he stood his ground and didn't play their games. He told them exactly what he thought of their behaviour. He refused to be manipulated. And he walked away.

That was his 'righteous response'.

I wish it had been mine.

It can be yours.

And that is why I am sharing my experience. In the fervent hope that someone reading this post might be encouraged and strengthened by what they read. And resist the manipulative teaching that too many religious leaders promote which says, in effect, that 'good christians' must submit to abuse.

I pray you see it for what it is and respond with the righteousness that Jesus displayed!

Sunday, 6 July 2014


In the last year or so, it's hit home to me how many labels christians use!

Patriarchal, Egalitarian, Progressive, Evangelical, Pre/Mid/Post-Trib… (etc, etc, etc!) The list just goes on and on and on.

And I haven't even started on the denominational labels!!!

I get so frustrated with our seeming need to categorise and 'box' everything. While labels can sometimes be a useful base-point to start to explore ideas, maybe we need to take a step back and look at our world with fresh eyes.

Followers of "The Way" are called to imitate Jesus. Can you really see him sizing you up by where you fit in the factional landscape of religious politics?

And while labels can be a useful starting point in a discussion, what one person understands by any particular label can be totally at odds with what another person pictures when they hear that word.

And worse yet, those labels are often used to dismiss a person before their argument is even heard. "Oh, you're an 'X'. I don't agree with that doctrine or position, so I don't need to listen to you."

Subtext: I don't need to see you as a real person… much less one who loves the same God I worship!

It's maybe time, we took the time, to explore those ideas together, recognising that we each bring subtle distinction and nuance to any label you care to mention.

Not to mention, emotional baggage!

Here's a suggestion. Let's actually talk to each other! Crazy, right?

But just maybe we'll learn that even disagreement doesn't have to mean discord. Just maybe we'll learn that it can mean real relationship!

It's so crazy, it just might work.