Friday, January 11, 2008

Leaving and The Truman Show

8 months out of leaving our former church and I am still learning some things. I was talking to my daughter the past few days. It has been a hard few weeks for her. For one, she ran into a whole group of teens and youth that still attend our old church. The sight of them and their subsequent shunning of her was so hard to take. It brought up all the old hurts in a way that I was shocked at how much she was still angry and unhealed. As we talked I realized that my leaving and her leaving were two different things entirely.

My leaving was much like watching the movie, The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey. In fact I was fascinated to see how the plot of the movie detailed my life in our church Some highlights:
The director tried to appear benevolent but it was all for the money and his
Those who dared go against the master plan of the director were quickly removed.
The whole plot depended on everyone playing their part.
Those who actually made the show happen had to pack away their conscience.
When Truman started to question his surroundings the usual tactic was used to
convince him that he was the crazy one.

And that was my church life. Like Truman, the first thing that I finally saw as unreal (for Truman it was the spotlight that landed in the street – for me the questioning of the use of titles) started me to question all the other things. It was because of my questions and the ensuing answers that did not match up to what Jesus taught, that I left.

But for my daughter it was not that at all. For her, she left because of the hurt and pain that she was made to feel from the people there. In fact she actually left a year before the rest of us did.

But because of this, I don’t know how to really help her. For me, I am just able to realize that I and everyone else were deceived and therefore I have changed my mind. This gets easier and easier the further away from May that I get. This does not work with her though. She has been wounded. She still bleeds. To see someone or think of times in the past will throw her back into the hurt of the day it happened. It is as fresh as if it were happening again, all over. The unhealed-ness is heartbreaking to watch and I feel helpless. Of course I know all the lines I would have told her last year at this time…”you just need to forgive, just trust God to work it all out, try to pray more, just have faith.” Fortunately, I know how wrong those would be to use on her right now.

Best Friend says it just takes more time and someone to talk to. I believe that and am more than willing to wait but do any of you have any more advice for us? Is there anything I can do with her or for her? She trusts me. Our relationship is really good which is amazing since I in so many ways encouraged her to just take the abuse and not say anything because these people were our leaders.

The best line by Truman’s best friend (one of the cast): “Nothing you see on this show is fake…it is merely….”controlled”.” For me, I realized that it was controlling and walked out. For my daughter, she was one of the ones who was controlled and thus hurt.
What do you think?


co_heir said...

I'm so sorry your daughter is going through this. Kids in churches like this can be as bad as the adults. Many times they're copying their parents attitudes and actions.

Does she have friends from outside this church that she can spend time with? Sometimes replacing people that have hurt you with people who accept and love you will help heal.

Barb said...

The kids were actually worse thean the leaders as they were far mour zealous with who they let "in" and who they kept out.
There are some dear friends who are around. Most are girls who are married or guys. No close friends yet. I too think that will help a lot but it is hard for her to find close friends as she is VERY wary of other christian groups and yet not drawn to the partying of the others.

Mary said...

I'm sorry your daughter is hurting, too. As I was thinking about this, I started wondering if there are any blogs or websites out there written for/by other teens and youth who are walking a similar journey to hers. I know how healing it's been for me to have others who understand and can validate what I've gone through. Do you think that this is something she would be interested in exploring?

Maria said...

I wonder whether some counselling or spiritual direction would help her work through the hurt and find some level of resolution/healing to move on to new relationships.

Barb said...

Mary, I know she would read anything that I give her. If you know of others who left really wounded and hurt, let me know about them. Most of what I read online was more like my own leaving..that of waking up and smelling the truth.

Maria, we have thought about counseling, have checked out a few places online but they are so expensive. She wouldn't go to a "church" counselor at this point I know.

I really think it would help her to talk with someone that seems safe to her. Am poking around town here to see if there is anything available.

grace said...

I don't really have any advice, but your daughter's experience sounds similar to what the teen children of some of my friends experienced at our CLB. I agree that the toxic nature of exclusivity and performance is often more intense in that age group, although it is a reflection of what they have learned from the adults.

One thing that I can relate to is that if she identifies herself with those relationships, the exclusion is really painful. I don't really know how you get past that because it does make it harder to want new relationships.

One advantage she may have is that relationships are more transitory at her age because of all the changes she will soon be experiencing. Leaving home, starting college, pursuing a career, possibly moving, getting married, all of these things will help to distance her from this situation and experience.

I'm sure that watching you and your husband move forward through this experience has been helpful to her also in processing her own pain and grief. It's hard as a parent to accept that they've had to experience such a wound.

Wish I had some answers. I will pray for her.

Paul K said...

I'm assuming your name is Barb?

Hello, my name is Paul. I just came across your blog through Windblown Hope. I have the distinct feeling I'm intruding on a very personal conversation and realize you don't know me, so please forgive me for weighing in.

I have a background as a lay counselor and have invested much time and energy into understanding the issues we face spiritually and psychologically. Perhaps more importantly I have spent years working through my own brokeness and needyness in my search for Abba. I am a very avid reader and in all my reading perhaps the best book I have ever came across that deals with healing from the wounds of broken relationships and the sin done against us is a book by the title True Faced by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John Lynch. It is a Navpress book and can be trusted as a authentic representation of true Christ-centered, grace focused healing.

It has much to say about community and the difference between grace communities and works-based communities, and the healing and wounding fostered by both.

Most importantly it gives consise direction on how to work through the issues we face when we are wounded. Very grace centered, and practical. There is not an "ought' or "should" anyplace in this book.

I recommend the first publication which can be found for about six bucks at;

Hope this helps ya out.

Mike said...

Barb, I'm printing this to read it to my daughters. Maybe it help them to know others go through similar experiences.

In our case the recovery is not complete, though some good new friends have made a tremendous difference in one case. But with my older daughter the church/partying divide is still a problem we have not solved.

Thank you for the post.

Barb said...

Grace, We have often thought that in God bringing her a husband it will help so much. It is scary though because we were taught to look for husbands at a "church" and so I still find it hard to believe that God can actually do it outside of the box. (Even though he did for my oldest daughter). Thanks for your prayers.

Paul, The purpose of the blog is not to be exclusionary. I welcome your voice. I will check out the book you recommend and have actually been facinated with your series on Desires on your page. Have been reading it today. Really good - thanks. A lot of it speaks to what she is experiencing I think.

Mike, Keep me updated on how they are doing. I have a feeling there are many more out there like them.

Mary said...


I really don't know of a lot of websites along those lines either. My experience was more like waking up and smelling the coffee (or something much more foul than that). I'll pray for her and dig around a bit.

traveller said...

Like the others this is very sad. I know it is difficult for your daughter and for you to go through this. As a parent I understand the difficulty of watching our children work through these types of issues.

I would recommend another book that is more general than the one Paul suggested. It was very helpful for me, and still is, in understanding my own brokenness.

The book is entitled "Embracing Brokenness: How God Refines Us Through Life's Disappointments" by Alan Nelson. It can be found here:

Mike said...

Barb, I guess I was more right about the parallels than I realized. I left a printout of your post on the desk and my older daughter read it and thought I must have written it about her.

It would be funny if not so sad.

Barb said...

traveller, i will check out the book, thanks so much

Mike, if she ever wants to talk, write to me at formerleader at hotmail dot com and i will forward it onto my kid. i'm so sorry.

Sarah said...

I can relate to your daughter's experience. I went through a similar experience when I was 20. I lost all my Christian friends in a very short period of time, and I was then shunned and disdained. It was very painful, but typical of the religious environment in which it happened.

But that was 12 years ago for me, and I now am thankful for the experience. God did so much, and saved me from so much by teaching me about some of those things early on. I read a book during that season called "God Meant it for Good" by RT Kendall. It really ministered to me in a time when I felt abandoned and rejected. I will pray for your daughter!

Old Pete said...

I understand something of the thoughts being expressed, but maybe a different perspective might be helpful. We experienced a trauma in 1994 when the church we attended as an extended family 'changed its doctrines'. My daughter was married in the church. At the time of the split we went one way, while her in laws went another way. My daughter's reaction was 'you can't both be right' and my son in law is now a positive atheist.

I've been through a wilderness experience since then and learned a lot. My daughter still hasn't started and in this life may not - but I can't blame anyone for her problems - it's all part of the journey of life - and we can't live other people's lives for them.