As anyone who's visited my Facebook Page could tell you, I read a lot of blogs. That's who I am. I read, I ponder, I process. A lot. It's how I'm made. (Apparently, some people believe "thinking too much" is a sin - but that's another story...)
Anyway I recently came across a post by Andy Gill entitled Escaping Evangelicalism. But it was the subtitle that caught my eye, "The Process of Healing from Spiritual and Theological Abuse".
In it, he talks about his struggle to fit in:
"I tried really hard to pretend and warp into who everyone wanted me to be. But it was a double-edged sword deciding between the choice of being accepted as someone I’m not or the choice of being rejected for who I actually am."He adds:
"The church is where I heard about freedom and grace, but not where I experienced freedom and grace because I never felt safe enough to truly be myself."He concludes:
"In the last 5-years I’ve learned that there is no pastoral position, no Christian-career, no single person worth losing your autonomy over. It’s an amazing thing to learn that who you are is enough. It’s even more amazing to see how much you can accomplish by just being yourself."And it reminded me of my last encounter with "J" and his wife. Sure, it had shaken me up for a time, but the truth of Mr Gill's conclusion is my truth too.
There's nothing worth selling your soul for!
If the price of acceptance is living a lie, then I'll take the rejection - I've seen what living a lie costs!
In October 2013, board member D wrote the following words to me:
"All of the leadership have left this difficult situation behind a year ago. We have moved on, we have and are walking in victory, we have forgiven you for your cruel words, accusations, and your gossiping to others."
But it's just not the truth. The look on the face of J's wife was neither one of forgiveness nor victory. It was a look of vitriol, of bitter hatred towards me.
I think D wrote it because it's what he needed to believe, but I also think it's because that was the lie that had been fed to him.
I've seen this couple say and do the 'right thing' in front of people who 'matter', even when this contradicted things spoken to others. I've seen them pretend and cover up (like this) to protect their image.
And I just can't begin to imagine the horror of living with such feelings and not being allowed to own them! I couldn't live with the knowledge of my true feelings having to be imprisoned within me because I'd bought my acceptance at the price of honesty.
The saddest part is that it didn't have to be this way.
It doesn't have to be this way.
It makes me weep for the thousands of others in 'the church' right now who are caught in this trap of their own making. People who bought the sweet-sounding offer of "Just As I Am" only to find it quickly turned into "I Want to be Clone".
Brothers, sisters, I pray you find a way to break out of your prison - that you escape the unending requirement of having to act out your part in a meaningless charade.
My heart breaks for the people who found the price was just too high and have chosen to walk away (or were driven away). How many of them now find themselves shunned by former friends and family? How many are out there, staring down the long road of healing from spiritual abuse?
Precious people, I pray that the joy of your freedom grows ever stronger, and the pain of your rejection dulls and fades. I pray you find peace with the One who knows what it is to be despised and rejected... and free!