Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Silence Is Not Golden - It's My Time To Speak

UPDATE:

To all....I did call my (former) wonderful friend on Wednesday. She assured me that to be in contact with me would just cause her to look at issues that she just can't afford to look at right now. It was heartbreaking to hear the fear in her voice. We won't have any contact from this point out but I got to tell her that I loved her and when she did have the freedom to look at the issues, she was always welcome at my door. (even if she did not want to talk about anything church related) I was eleated to get to talk to her and really end it for the time being. My only hope is that they are now in the position that Husband and I had left in leadership. NO ONE HAS EVER LASTED IN LEADERSHIP THERE!!! So it is just a matter of time before I get to have a real relationship with her again. And I assured her that I would never be angry enough at her to not be her friend in the future. I was so excited to address the elephant in the relationship that I danced around the house the rest of the day. Truth truly is freeing! And I love elephants!

I will no longer be silent!

I feel this today as clearly as I felt that we were to leave our CLB.

For the past year (except for a letter to two friends the first week we left) we have not initiated any relationships other than the ones who sought us out and those whom had already left the church.. We have worked hard sometimes to keep those – especially in the beginning – but we have not gone to our former friends to see if they wanted to have any sort of relationship with us.

But somewhere in the past few weeks I have decided something. I’M NOT WRONG!!

Now, I may not be entirely right. In fact I can say quite emphatically that I am certain that I am not entirely right on how I see facts from our past or our present situation. Really, that does not bother me anymore. I don’t have to be completely right. What a freedom that is!!

Husband has always said that when I finally decide that I have done nothing wrong, I will be dangerous. He was right because what has kept me quiet all this time is that I felt that somehow, I was missing something. Somehow, I was reading the situation at our CLB wrong. Somehow, I would find out that really they were not as deceived as I thought they were. Somehow, I deserved to have relationships cut off. Somehow, I had done something really wrong. Somehow, what I had done necessitated my not being able to have relationships with these people.

I felt like I needed to just disappear from their lives so that they could go on unhindered in the church life that they have. If I saw them, I needed to just tell them that I loved them and “be nice to them.” I felt that I should not be the one to address the proverbial elephant that was standing in the corner of our conversation.

Then Daughter taught me a lesson the other day. She ran into some of our leaders unexpectedly. They waved and smiled. She approached them and without a lot of anger told them that it was not appropriate with what they have done to simply smile and wave at her. She stood her ground. She pointed out the elephant between them and her. She told them that she was not going to play the games and then turned and left.

Know what? In addressing the real issue that is between her and them, she felt free for the first time since she left. Fear rolled off her. She is a new person today. She is no longer slinking around. She is no longer afraid. She found freedom! I was so proud of her. To our knowledge, no one has had the guts to do what she did.

If people are willing to talk, we are ready to talk. I re-read every blog that I have posted. I would love to sit down with ANYONE and discuss the things that I have written. I’m not ashamed of my journey since last March. In fact I think I have something to say!

I am not wrong. There are problems with my CLB. For instance, I can show you multiple sites that have lists of what makes a church a cult and my former ‘church’ fits all but one or two of each list! There is a problem there. I did not make up the lists. Nor did they visit our group and then make up the list. The lists FIT!! This is not my problem! We did not know this when we left. We just knew that the leadership was way too interested in their own position of Apostles and Prophets and in ranking themselves above all the rest of us.

I have learned enough now though to quit doubting my own sanity. I have learned why we are shunned. I have learned more about the whole movement of the New Apostolic Reformation. I have learned what about it I agree with and what about it I abhor. And, I have decided not to be quiet and play along with the whole thing when I have the chance.

Now, let me say this to alleviate the minds of all those who think I’m going to go off half cocked. I’m going to try and not be foolish about this. I am not going to go and intentionally stir up trouble. Wayne and Brad on their last podcast said something to this effect, “Don’t go and start a war in someone’s heart before it is Father’s time.” Therefore, I am not going to go and write to everyone who is there. There will be no mass emails, phone calls or visits. But to those that I just ‘happen’ to run into, I just may address the elephant in the room.

Maybe not, we’ll see.

I will not slink around them though as if I have done something wrong any more though. I will not play the game any longer as if I deserve to be shunned. If someone is uncomfortable talking to me I am apt to ask them why all the discomfort. If they ignore me, I am apt to ask why they do that. If they pretend that everything is just fine, I may ask why they are pretending with me when I know they have huge problems with me.

And, I am going to call two close former friends and ask them if they want me to leave them alone or if there is a way to have a friendship in the midst of all of this. At least I will know and not be left to my assumptions. Knowing is always better for me.

Will let you know how it goes.

31 comments:

Tracy Simmons said...

Barb, you won't believe what I posted just about an hour or two before you posted your blog today!

http://tinyurl.com/2wnf7w

I hear you loud and clear. You are getting your voice back in a new area and it is wonderful to behold!

Barb said...

Tracy, I did read your's today and just smiled as I knew what I was about to post. I really need to get this book.

For the rest of you, please add Tracy's blog to your reader. It is, so often full of the richest quotes that are like a devotional to my mornings.

grace said...

Woohoo! I have so much more to say, and no time to say it. Just know that is a very full and emphatic woohoo!

Barb said...

grace, if you ever get the time, would love to know what is rolling around in your thoughts. thanks for the woohoo though!!

malegra said...

Yay! What a place of freedom! Standing firm in the truth that you have, knowing it's truth... but NOT being concretely bound that you've got the ONLY truth, or the FULL truth... what a place of joy and liberty. It opens up the world of relationship, loving without agenda, sharing with the intent of true encouragement and building up, without threats or intimidation or fear of losing your status. So happy to read your post this morning! Enjoy! :-)

Barb said...

malegra, Daughter said you commented on her blog the other day. She is greatly encouraged. Thanks for being an encouragement through this path that we are taking. You are right...it opens up the world of relationship, loving without agenda!

traveller said...

I join Grace's whoohoo and add a wahoo for both you and your daughter. Blessings as you continue the journey.

traveller said...

I join Grace's whoohoo and add a wahoo for both you and your daughter. Blessings as you continue the journey.

co_heir said...

Barb, it is good that you have come to this freeing moment. You should never have to slink around or apologize for doing what God has led you to do. If more Christians would do that there would be less abuse in churches.

Let your voice be strong and clear!

Barry said...

Well said, Barb. Thanks for posting this - it made me realise that, ten months after leaving my own CLB, I'm just about at the same point. It's a good place to be.

Erin said...

I just have to thank you Barb for being instrumental in my freedom over the last week or so. This post highlights the battle many of us face....we are forced to slink away into the night believing that our pain and hurts are somehow our own fault, or at least somewhat unfounded, that we are just being too sensitive, or whatever. To actually learn to acknowledge our blamelessness (or relative blamelessness) is huge and healing. Thank you.

Barb said...

Traveller, thanks for the added wahoo's!

Co-heir, My daughter speaking up the other day has made a big paradigm shift for so many people. I think at least amoung the people I know we are thinking about speaking up now. Who knows what it will result in here.

Barry, It is a good place to be. I know it is different for each person though and not a timetable kindof thing. But when you get there as you are describing, it is truly a good place. Not to say I won't be experiencing different emotions next week ;(

Erin, Well put....to acknowledge our blamelessness (or relative blamelessness)! Brilliant

grace said...

Barb,
I was so shocked, surprised, and impressed with what your daughter did. My first thought was, "Can we do that?"

It was a long time before I had any confidence in my "not wrongness." I wish I had known that we didn't deserve what they did to us. I wasn't able to set that kind of a boundary.

It was everything I could do to convince myself that we had done the right thing, and I didn't have the courage to convince them.

Now that we are confident in what we know about what happened, it just doesn't matter anymore. For us, we no longer care enough to bother enlightening them.

If we had a do-over, I would definitely want to take the approach you describe. Instead we cowered and slinked away, as Erin described.

At the time, speaking up seemed so impossible. It was just us facing 250 people who were convinced we were wrong.

I do believe that for the people specifically responsible for the abuse the public facade of niceness is an extension of the abuse forcing you to once again participate in covering up their falseness.

I think your daughter's response is the ideal way to handle these public encounters.

So once again, woohoo! Be sure to tell your daughter how proud I am of her courage to stand in the truth.

Mary said...

Barb,

My husband and I were just talking about this very thing the other day. I'm proud of your daughter and am thankful for the freedom that the two of you have found.

Grace said: "I do believe that for the people specifically responsible for the abuse the public facade of niceness is an extension of the abuse forcing you to once again participate in covering up their falseness."

Wow, Grace. This is where I struggle at the moment. I put on a smile and have meaningless chit chat when I see the leaders from my CLB (while they are quickly finding a reason to be in a hurry). I have been wondering if pretending that the elephant isn't still tromping on people while I remain silent is such a good thing. How do I call out the falseness in love? That is my question at the moment. Thanks for a great post that has gotten me thinking, Barb.

Nate said...

Hey Barb,
Got here through Barry's site. It is great to hear that you now have faith in what God has shown you. He showed you the right path, and it feels good to be on that path.
You can FEEL it. It is actually real. The liberty Pual spoke of when out from under, is incredible. I am very happy for you.

Jennifer F. said...

Barb - your blog is such a source of fascination (and inspiration) for me. Not only because you're a great writer, but because, oddly, I can totally relate to what you're going through. I don't know if our backgrounds could be any more different...and yet...I know exactly what you mean.

Just replace "CLB" with "group of atheist friends" and I could have written most of this post. I too have found myself sort of slinking around sometimes, questioning my own sanity just because certain groups of people treat me differently after my spiritual awakening. Your post inspires me to remember: hey, I have nothing to be ashamed of here! Let's just acknowledge this elephant in the room and either be friends or not be friends.

Anyway, I continue to be fascinated by how much we have in common despite our drastically different backgrounds!

Barb said...

Grace, your comment really resonated with us. Especially Husband. He wonders when it just won't mean as much to us anymore and actually looks forward to that day. That speaks of health to both of us.

Mary, that quote of Grace's deserves it's own post. It truly is just an extension of the wierdness. It is so freeing to realize that we are able to gently and even in love - address the elephant.

Nate. welcome to the site. it is truly liberty! Thanks

Jennifer,
Your blog has been that to me too. I never understood confession and why someone would go to a priest until I read it on your frist confession. It made so much sense to me. Totally in a different planet than the one I live in but so much richness.

I'll need to think about the fact that you could replace the CLB with athiest friends...that is facinating. It would just boil down to human nature I guess.

Anyway, will continue to read your story and learn from it. I loved today's post.

Ché Vachon said...

Your post is so timely for me.
God has been nudging me to speak..and I've been resistant, for the most part.
Yet, I read your article, and He nudges again.
Thanks for being a part of His voice..

Heidi Wilson said...

To finally realize that you did nothing to deserve it is wonderful. And to break the silence is brave and healing! And hard. This year was our first Easter back in a church. I hated every minute of it. :)

I'm amazed and impressed at your daughter not playing the games. I haven't seen our old pastor in awhile, but every time I have, he is waving and smiling. Maybe one of these days I'll be brave enough to refuse to play along.

Still, nobody knows why we left. I told my husband today that I just may be able to tell someone now if they asked.

Dysfunctional families all seem to share the same debilitating code of silence... and dysfunctional church families seem to be no exception.

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I have been feeling so insecure about what I wrote. And as sad as it makes me that other people go through this, there is comfort in not being alone.

Love,
Heidi

Barb said...

Che, I'm glad if it helped. When I think of you speaking I think that it would truly be Grace speaking through you.

Heidi, It is so common to even doubt the things that you write in the blog forum. Even though we don't name names or places, it still feels wrong somehow. As I have written more I am becoming more convinced that it is helpful to me, to those who have been hurt and I hope eventually to those who are still in the system to speak of these things. You are right when you say:
Dysfunctional families all seem to share the same debilitating code of silence... and dysfunctional church families seem to be no exception.

Good to meet you.

AbiSomeone said...

Barb,

Woohoos and wahoos from The Abbess, sister! Awesome post -- and equally awesome comments.

When I became president of our middle school's PTSA last fall, I walked into an entire herd of elephants! I did not realize that I was an answer to prayer for the Christians in this PTSA -- until I called a select number of members of the PTSA board to my house for tea in order to deal with the elephants. It was an intense 3 hours, but the results have been significant.

The biggest result, at the end of our time together, was that I told everyone at that table that if I saw their elephant approach, I was going to hold them accountable to their promise to banish them and call them on it in the meeting (gracefully, of course!). Everyone seemed relieved, interestingly enough.

So I bought a tiny beanie-type elephant with the biggest, sorriest blue eyes you've ever seen...and I bring him to every meeting. And if I get wind of restless elephants, I put him on my shoulder and state: This is the only elephant allowed at this table.

I have scheduled an appointment (couldn't get in before May 7th!) to meet with the new senior pastor at our CST (church--still there), where we have not yet been released by God to leave -- and where I have had a few important conversations with leaders about how my "resignation" was instigated and handled -- and I'm thinking of taking my little elephant along. ;^)

I'll let you know how it goes! I'm hoping, by then, the lump in my throat (that mysteriously appeared as soon as I made the request for the appointment) will be gone....

Blessings to you and props to Daughter!

Peggy

Tera Rose said...

wow. you have written so much already- what more needs to be said? Im going to spend some time reading through your blog- I can't believe that you are only out of your church for one year and you have written so much!

what is CLB?

Deborah said...

yer so brave :)
Bless you!

Barb said...

Abbess! Welcome here. And thanks for the woohoos and wahoos - they do the heart good.
I love your elephant idea. I shall get me one to remind myself that it is ok to bring him up if he is in the room.
Blessings on your apt. please check in or post on your blog to tell us how it goes. The mysterious lump in your throat is a very familiar feeling that I remember well. I think it is just now going away.

Tera Rose, Yeah, I probably think too much huh? I just love to have other stories out there to give as much encouragement as possible to those who have left or are leaving. And, sorry, A CLB is 'church left behind' in blogspeak. I'll try not to use it anymore as new people check in from time to time and don't know the lingo. I never liked lingo anyway ;)

Deborah, brave or crazy...not sure which yet.

To all....
I did call my (former) wonderful friend on Wednesday. She assured me that to be in contact with me would just cause her to look at issues that she just can't afford to look at right now. It was heartbreaking to hear the fear in her voice. We won't have any contact from this point out but I got to tell her that I loved her and when she did have the freedom to look at the issues, she was always welcome at my door. (even if she did not want to talk about anything church related) I was eleated to get to talk to her and really end it for the time being. My only hope is that they are now in the position that Husband and I had left in leadership. NO ONE HAS EVER LASTED IN LEADERSHIP THERE!!! So it is just a matter of time before I get to have a relationship with her again. And I assured her that I would never be angry enough at her to not be her friend in the future. I was so excited to address the elephant in the relationship that I danced around the house the rest of the day. Truth truly is freeing!

traveller said...

Barb, this is so wonderful that you spoke with your friend, my view you are not a former friend but still one to her.

May your conversation go deep into her soul as the Spirit works in her life to bring about His transformation. Jesus came to set the captives free. May you be dancing around your house together soon!

Sue said...

Reading this post was totally uplifting. What a wonderful place of freedom you are in (and a hard place, too). I love what you said about not starting wars that are not in Father's time - what a freedom there is in that, too :)

I can totally understand why you have felt the way you have. Surely a cult would engender that sort of response in someone who has the GUTS to leave it. Kudos to you, Barbara.

Tera Rose said...

no, NOT too much writing!

just feeling guilt that I took so long to write- and wondering if I even need too -you know, nothing new under the sun.

I'm linking you- ok?

Katherine Gunn said...

You go, girl. Freedom is a wonderful thing.

Seek and you shall find said...

As this is now March, 2009, its probably too late to post this?

You said everything that i have been thinking and feeling. My friend who is still in the CLB (?)is also at my workplace... everyday, there are the elephants...Going to work is now a battle too. I tried to talk to her and sent her one email, but i think she thinks we just have to agree to disagree. The weird thing is i often feel frightened of talking to her..Maybe she feels that way too. It has only been about 6 weeks since i left. I wish i was as brave as you Barb.

Seek and you shall find said...

P.S. I linked your blog, is that ok?

Barb said...

Seek, you are welcome to link. Thanks for reading and commenting!