Saturday, February 9, 2008

Help Please - Negative Feedback Wanted

UPDATE: I have decided to post the comments that I have recieved. I was not sure at first because I did not want it to look like I was posting because people were backing me up. But as I read the comments this morning I think they are balanced and most of all display a very loving attitude towards Meg. All of us know to an extent what it feels like to have the emotions that she expresses. I hope as she and maybe others read your comments it will let people know that it is ok to be mad but it is also ok to enter into discussion with those who are willing to listen and along the way you may find yourself in a safe and loving place with people who really want to hear you and love you.

I have a question for those who read here. If you could help me, I would appreciate it.

I got my first and only (thus far) negative response to a post that I began this blog with. It is my post The Person Formerly Known as Your Leader. If you scroll down to the end of the comments you will see the last comment is by a person who goes by the name of Meg. In it, she tells me that this post really offended her and why it was so hurtful.

My question is this: Have any of you been hurt by this post or experienced a reaction in any of the same ways that Meg states? When you read it, (if you did indeed read back that far) did you have a bit of a negative reaction but just stuck around anyway out of a desire to love and encourage me?

Most comments, I have found, even on other's blogs tend to be in agreement with the author. Not many seem to have the guts to disagree...they just move on and quit reading. Do you think I am offending many like Meg or is her pain just triggered by what I wrote?

Please be brutally honest with me. I really have no desire to hurt anyone on purpose - especially those who are coming out from being hurt already. I want this to be a safe place for those who visit here.

Please also note that I don't want to hurt Meg (if she would read my blog again) by what you answer me so I may not post every comment that comes in. But I am intensely curious and willing to change some things if I need to.

Thanks for taking the time here.

16 comments:

Sue said...

I can't understand where Meg is coming from if she has come out of a cult. However, I disagree with her. What you described is the behaviour that the system forces people into complying with. It's messy and its horrible, that it coerces people in this way.

I didn't have a negative reaction to your post. What it described to me was someone who had seen the ways the institution taught her to behave, who had come out of that and who was now repenting.

Really, Barbara, I wouldn't be too hard on myself if I was you. I can understand Meg's reaction, but I also think it was an overreaction. It was taking what you said and turning it into a negative. I thought that post was pretty cool, actually.

Erin said...

I think it simply has to do with perspective. That post in particular outlined some of the same things I was both victim of and perpetrator of. Having been in a mid-hierarchy position in a megachurch, I modeled what I saw being modeled. So I completely identified with your sentiments in that post...but it also made me angry....not at you, but because this is what had been done to me and what I had been taught to do to others.

I can't judge how Meg might feel or react from what you have shared; and she has every right to feel angry about this. I can completely see her perspective.

However, I think you ought to say what you need to say for your own healing...because while other's journey's aren't like yours, neither is yours like theirs, and this blog is your place to work out your pain and experiences.

Also, your honesty is helpful to many of us who have been in similar shoes. Don't censor yourself for fear of how others may feel. Maybe one day hearing your thoughts in the post you mentioned will aid in healing those like Meg when they are at a different place in their journey.

Feel free to post this comment or not. I won't be hurt if you feel it is better not to.

Ché Vachon said...

I read the comment, Barb, and I read your response.
I think you did well, in the post, and in your response.
It sounds like Meg has come from a brutal situation, and my heart goes out to her.
And she raises excellent points, though I'm not sure they all apply to you. If she had read many of your posts, maybe she would have gotten a clearer picture...but maybe the amount of pain she lives with just makes that difficult.
I have found your blog to be enouraging. I don't always share the same experiences, yet how you've written about them has helped me think some things through.
And, I'll say it again, I LOVE your articles about the boats....I still go back and read them again...helps me keep some perspective...

Ian said...

Barb,

I've ready a number of different blog posts along the lines of "The People Formerly Known as" and derived benefit from them. I guess when I read your contribution I processed it as something written using a particular literary device for effect. I think it worked well but Meg articulates a different view in her response and I'm guessing you would agree that it is okay for her to do so.

There are some comments in Meg's response that I would feel uncomfortable about, especially "your actions prove that you aren't honest and loving". From reading your blog I don't believe that is true. From your writings it was a factor in the past but no longer.

Also, I look at my own involvement in an unhealthy church involvement and although I was never a leader I think that perhaps I was culpable / complicit at times. For example, when a number of families were outed from fellowship, why didn't I just go ahead and love them instead of following the party line?

In the end it is not about blame but about finding health and restoration and a new way of life. Each of us ultimately has to look at our history square in the face and realise that being a survivor is far better than being a victim.

I know that comments like this can also seem a bit trite and even pharisaical but truthfully blogs aren't the best vehicle for heart-to-heart communication. Sometimes hard sounding words are ameliorated by a regretful smile or tears.

For what it's worth that's my take on things. I hope others are able to flesh this out more.

Ian

Rick said...

I think you've done the right thing in taking a negative comment to heart, using it to self-discern again. You've probably done that over and over, and having an outside voice to push again isn't necessarily a bad thing. Moving on, for you in your thing and for her in hers, is a good thing, too.

Elle said...

What a lovely heart you have to even be able to ask the question!

Timing is everything. In my experience oftentimes the perfectly right words at the wrong time can really hurt someone. Obviously your initial post really resonated with most people who read it. In the blogosphere, however, you cannot control the timing of who reads what when! I suspect when Meg has received much more healing in her life she will then be able to read the post and appreciate the humility that you displayed. However, when we are still wounded I think it is our natural inclination to "demonize" every part of the person who hurt us. In other words, to say that they could not have done anything from a loving heart, that they are pure evil, etc. The truth is, we are all such a mixture of darkness and light, and that's a tension we must live with in one another until we reach our final home.

I could have written your original post minus a few lines and plus a few others; it so reflects so much of my own experience. Also, I could have written what Meg had written many years ago when I was still very much in the process of becoming healed from the wounds inflicted on me from the leadership folks I worked with at that church. When we first left and were working through our issues our pain was so immense that we were convinced that the leaders at that church had never done a decent thing in their entire lives. :-). Now, many years, tears, and healings later, I see what they were able to do from a loving standpoint as well as where they were operating from deception at the condition of their own hearts in some areas. Aren't we all like this? Such a mixture! Obviously there are some folks who do far more damage than others, and I don't want to minimize that in any way. If someone had tried to tell me in our first year or so after leaving that we needed to forgive and see the good in those people that had hurt us, I think I would have been offended and hurt. It was mission impossible at that time. Now it brings an ease and a joy, but it took many years to get there.

Well, all that to say that I think your original post was not insensitive or unkind at all and that you responded to Meg with real grace. Now we pray for her heart to continue to heal. It can take a long time. I know from experience! Feel free to post this or not, as you think best!

Grace to you,
Elle

Watchman said...

You are doing the right thing by processing your story outloud. Meg (or anyone else) will interpret it as they see fit. We let those chips fall where they may and carry on.

watchman

Mary said...

Barb,

I appreciate that you asked this hard question. I can see where Meg may be coming from. It sounds like she has been deeply hurt, and that makes me very sad. It's quite possible that you became a flag bearer of sorts for the leadership in her life. There would have been a time not too far back in my life when your post would have made me very angry, too, because I would have had the image of the person who hurt me in my mind when I read it. I just wouldn't have been ready to read it with your heart in mind. But, like others have said, you can't control when people stop by.

I really hope that Meg does come back to your site - even if she only reads your response to her. It may be one of the first times that her honesty and hurt are met with grace and humility instead of condemnation, retaliation, and anger.

co_heir said...

Barb,

It seems to me that Meg is still working through the hurt and bitterness caused by those she trusted. She sees nothing good in any of their actions or motives, and seems to be projecting those feelings onto you.

Unfortunately, you can't control how other people will perceive you and what you write. The only thing you can do is tell your story, and those who will be helped will be helped.

I hope Meg finds her way out of her hurt.

Sue said...

Regarding my post above - sorry, I meant I CAN understand where Meg is coming from if she's come out of a cult.

Ruth said...

Barb - I think you have truly demonstrated the heart of Christ in this and I commend your humility and authenticity. You are a true leader!

Anonymous said...

this was the first post on your site that i read, in fact when i book marked your site it was from this page. so whenever i go to your site this is the posting that comes up, i know i could change it but i choose not to.
why,
it is a gentle, humble reminder of where i came from.
i was a recipient of such abuse, and also a perpetrator.
i will pass it on to others as the Lord leads.

Barb said...

Thank you all for taking the time to go back and read and then respond. I really appreciate it. I went ahead and posted all that I got in. No one suggested that I take it off although if anyone else has that opinion I would love to know what they are thinking.

I think that your responses though brilliantly showed why I have recieved healing through writing here. You are so full of grace. Many have walked through the same things and have such a heart for the hurting. I hope Meg and others will find you all and garner the same grace that you have showed me.

Thank you for your care and concern. I remain grateful.

Tyler Rosenquist said...

Meg is hurting and she is still suffering with her anger. Abba has to work that out of her, your post was just as likely as any other to set her off. Just as it is hard for someone who detests murders to see one come to repentance and be saved, so it is hard for someone who is angry with religious leaders. In our hearts, we all have had, at one point or another, a group of people we desire to have rot in hell, or burn, or whatever. To see even one of them escape when we are angry is difficult. It is a heart work. If she is willing to not be angry, or at least to forgive, Abba will heal her heart.

Tyler Rosenquist said...

I should clarify -- I didn't mean to intimate that religious leaders are going to burn and suffer in hell, only that, when we are angry, that we very much desire for them to do so. We don't want them to come around and be nice, loving people -- we want them to suffer forever because of how they hurt us. This is as far from the heart of God as we can probably go in our anger, but it is a very human condition.

Barb said...

My daughter told me today that she wished she could have had a fist fight with her leaders. That way everything would have been out in the open for everyone to see and the hurt they inflicted on her mentally and emotionally would be able to be viewed as well as knowing that her blows would show on them too. It is hard when this is what we really want. Thanks for the clarification but I understood. And thanks for stopping by and commenting!