Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blogging Anonymously

Why do I blog anonymously?

This question was asked the other day on my Person Formerly Known as Your Leader. She said, “If this is a confession, why is it anonymous?”

I answered her in a vague but unsatisfying paragraph or two but the question has really been bugging me. I have left. They cannot do anything more than dislike me or my opinions that I hold more than they do now. So why do I still not want to go on record as saying that all this is wrong?

Let me just talk for a while, maybe I’ll figure something out in the writing.

Our leaving is still very fresh. It was only in the middle of March that I started to really look at some things in Scripture. Up to that point I was not questioning anything except some behavior that I thought was just fleshly. Even then, I was still under the impression that God had to deal with that in my leaders.

During the month of March and into April I became convinced that we were in a very toxic church. BUT I still didn’t believe that we (my husband and myself) could really be right about it. It was like there were two halves of my brain. One that understood that we were in a bad situation, the other half still didn’t want to believe or leave and was afraid that I was missing something. I tried over and over to convince my husband that somehow we were the ones who were “maybe” deceived. If I did not keep the list up (the facts of what all was really, really wrong) in front of me, I would fall back into thinking that we might somehow be in the wrong. . I would swing between total conviction and anger at them at how awful it all was, to defending them, all in an afternoon. Some days I wanted to take out a full page add in the local paper and some days I was trying my hardest to find any flaw in my husband’s attitude or thinking. This drove my husband crazy. At one point, late one night he said to me. “Honey, you remind me of a woman who has an abusive husband. He beats her every week. She knows he should not hurt her, but when she is confronted with his abuse by anyone else, she makes excuses that somehow she is the one in the wrong.” He said, “Someday you will have to admit that we are not the ones who are wrong here.”

I remember crying that night because I knew he was right. I had protected these people for so long, had made excuses for their behavior and had actually aided them for so long that I could not get my mind around the fact that I was not somehow in the wrong and had no right to say that they were wrong. But why did I still feel like it was wrong to stand up and say stop? Why does that feeling still linger. Why do I blog anonymously?

It was not until we actually looked at them in the eye and told them that we were leaving, told them that we were not afraid of loosing our destinies, told them that we were not afraid of all the bad things happening to us, told them that we were not afraid that our kids would run off to heathenville and ruin their lives, that I could stand up and say to them, “No you are wrong.” That was a very freeing moment.

But even that is still new to me. If I am honest with myself, I think I am still afraid. It was never ok to question the leaders in public. It was never ok to appear disloyal. It was never ok to “touch God’s anointed.” I’m still wrestling through these if not mentally than emotionally.

I know if those from my CLB (church left behind) ever found this webblog they would say it shows my deception because I do not use my own name. Yet if I did, they would say it shows my deception to publicly expose them. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t with them. But that is nothing new.

There is something in me though that says that it would not be wise to publish with my name or my church’s name. Most all blogs that I have read are not “outing” their church or using their own names. They must have reasons too.

Anyway, I would really like to know what you all think. How much is it up to God to expose these churches and how much responsibility do we have? Those of you who blog about this kind of thing, are you using your own names? Those who are reading this, - I would love your take on it too. Am I being wise or living under fear? I don’t promise I will do anything yet about it. Just want to think more and have more imput.


Anonymous said...

"How much is it up to God to expose these churches and how much responsibility do we have?"

Good question - and one that I have been struggling with as well at times... I just don't know.

Mary said...

I, too, choose to remain anonymous, at least for now. I want my focus to be on working through issues, and I get the freedom to do this with objective and unbiased voices in the blogosphere if I remain anonymous. I also want to expose wrong mentalities and lies, not people. It's extremely difficult to take things back once they are out for the world to see.

Martha said...

I identify with everything you are saying. I saw the signs years ago, but I had been taught not to be "offended," not to run from a church when you have a problem. I was taught "do not touch the Lord's annointed." So many times I just wanted to leave, but I didn't want to be "immature" (plus there was always the fear of what would be said about me-publicly- if I did go.) My family was planted there and wanted to stay there. I saw a lot of people who felt the way I did, but stayed because there were good things about the church.

It would take a long time to get into all of the details of our finally leaving, and I am currently trying to journal them on an anonymous blog that I started very recently. I don't know how much of it all I want to rehash. But our leaving was a long time in coming- years and months before we finally decided that it was what we had to do. We agonized. I changed my mind every 10 minutes about what was the right thing for us to do. Were we being petty, judgemental, offended? Should we stay just a little longer to try to work it out? What about all of our friends and our kids' friends who were still there? What if we never found another church that we liked? And then, like you said, there was the list of all the things that were wrong- not just differences in opinion and personality conflicts, like we were told. There was downright spiritual abuse and emotional manipulation of the newest, the weakest, and the most vulnerable souls. God sovereignly led us to find out about financial improprieties and some other serious issues. And for all of this the top level of leadership was accountable to NO ONE, and displayed an arrogance that made it very clear that no PERSON was ever going to get through to them and make them see how deceived and wrong THEY were.

It was an excrutiating few months as we felt like ping pong balls, just tossed back and forth about our decision. When the decision was finally made to leave, we let those closest to us know about our decision. There were people who didn't think we were doing the right thing, and told us so. Curiously, other people, who we NEVER discussed the situation with, but whom we would have gladly given an explanation to if they had only asked us, felt the need to tell us that we were not doing the right thing in leaving. On our last day, someone stood up in church (someone whom we thought was a friend) and gave a testimony about offense and unforgiveness which was aimed at us. Much of the sermon that day seemed to be in regards to us.

We went home that last day feeling like we had been hit by a truck. Doubt and uncertainty would not leave our minds.We spent a few days feeling violated. And then I came to realize that the feelings of doubt that we felt and that you are now expressing are the result of the manipulation that was perpetrated by the leadership. Those who lead by fear and control must rely on keeping the flock afraid and full of doubt so that they can keep everyone in line and continue to "hold court" as my husband and I call it. The doubt is a tool of the enemy to take away your clarity and peace of mind. I also constantly wondered if I was wrong, if I was the one who was deceived. But I also came to realize that a little bit of that doubt is good- to seriously and prayerfully question my motives is a good way to keep myself from falling into the arrogance trap that says unequivocally "I am right, you are wrong.You are deceived, I am not." I firmly believe that if we were meant to stay there, if there was some lesson that we were meant to learn there that we did not, God will send that lesson around again, some time, some way .He can work out EVERYTHING for good.

As the events grow smaller in the rear view mirror, there is more peace and clarity. Occasionally I still doubt our decision, but I recognize that as a ploy of the enemy to destroy me. After all, keeping people trapped in religiosity and legalism is a great way to keep them from experiencing the true freedom which was bought for us by the blood of Jesus Christ. And yes, with these toxic people, it does seem that you are damned if you do and damned if you don't, but just remember that you don't answer to them. In fact, part of the problem in these kinds of churches is that the flock can start to worship their leaders and the opinions of others, instead of God.I fell into that trap plenty of times (still do.)

Give yourself time to heal. This is still new for us (a few months since we left) but everyday I feel a little better. I am trying to "be still and know that He is God." Keep your faith that He has put you exactly where He wants you.

As for blogging anonymously, I don't have a problem with that. Even though our former church seems to leave a trail of bloody bodies, few people would believe it without experiencing it. The leaders of our old church are personable and charismatic enough that I NEVER would have believed these stories if someone had told me several years ago. In fact, I lived through them and I STILL have a hard time believing a lot of it.So, I don't think in this situation it's really helpful to "out" them, people have to figure it out on their own. And as for my personal identity, I find that anonymity allows me to be completely honest in my blog. After all, I wouldn't publish my personal diaries with my name on them. And, while the Bible tells us to confess our sins to one another, it does not say that we have to confess our sins to everyone we meet.

I know this was long, but I hope it helps.

Barb said...

I also want to expose wrong mentalities and lies, not people.

This is soooo true. Thanks for the wisdom.

Martha, Isn't it so weird to have someone say the exact same words that you have used or said. I find my words in your writing. I am keeping up with your blog too. Please write. It does help.

Former Leader

Erin said...

Mary, Martha and JustMe...

I blogged anonymously for over 18 months. The one argument that I heard the most was that when someone blogs anonymously, they will say things they really don't mean or shouldn't say, that it gives license to be ungracious.

My feeling is this - when leaving a toxic church environment, one needs the freedom to say whatever they need to say in the process of ridding their body of the poisons and the pain. One needs to feel as though they can be heard even if they are angry and bitter and grieving.

Eventually some people abandon their anonymous blogs for real-name ones, and some people (like me) eventually feel safe enough to come out. Whatever your journey, it has to be your own process between you and God. That's all that matters.

Marti G said...

I agree with Erin. It took a while before I was comfortable with how much Father wanted me to share with others, compared to how much I "shouldn't" share because it was "uncovering God's anointed," compared with how much I sometimes wanted to share because I was SO pissed at them and myself and just needed/wanted to vent.

Gradually, I've shared more and more about our details. I still don't really post the name of the old place, or specific names of the people involved, even though anyone who knew us would know who is who in my stories. However, if someone asks, I'm no longer hiding the information.

Mary said...


You said: "One needs to feel as though they can be heard even if they are angry and bitter and grieving."

I identified with this a lot because not many would hear me (including myself!) when I started to question what was happening in our church. It helps immensely to be heard.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I'm just delurkering to say I love what you write and it doesn't matter if you are Susy Smith from the Baptist church in Alalbama or if you are Jessy Jones from the Lutheran Church in Minnesota.These problems are found everywhere. Your name and address aren't important. Your story is!! Stay anonymous for as long as you feel you want to. sue

Barb said...

Thanks for delurkering! And thanks for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Be as anonymous as you need to be to speak your mind. When I started pseudonymously 2-1/2 years ago, I said it was to protect the innocent and show grace to the guilty. In the end I really never much that I wouldn't have said if I'd used my real name, but for me I kept them separate because if you Google my real name or my pseudonym you'll find a good number of links to me in completely different contexts (the other is business-related), and it seemed helpful to keep those separate.

If it helps you be free and safe, go for it, and be blessed in the process.

As a side-note, my pseudonym has become enough of "a thing" now that when I offered to "go public" with my real name, several people told me not to. In a way, Brother Maynard has become bigger than me, and that's okay ;^) When I meet people or have ongoing personal email exchanges though, I don't mind connecting the dots to my real name.

Dianne said...

I've just been reading through your blog over the past day or so. I just wanted to say it's been almost 17 years since i left a very toxic church (and associated college) and it's only been in recent months that I've been able to face and deal with things. The leaving was slow and painful since it was so ingrained in me. I think I've done the opposite of you in not being able to blog about it at all, still in fear of what people would think. So I give you a lot of credit for just being able to share your experience and remember, you are not anonymous to God!!

N.C. said...

i got the boot (kind of) from my last church. My severance was contingent on my remaining publicly "positive". Nevermind they had a public congregational meeting in which I along with other pastors were forbidden to attend and then they publicly lied/slandered/assasinated us in front of the whole congregation.

So...my wife and I left. Rested in a little beach town...and then I went back to school for some more grad work.

It's been good. Healing.
I feel for you.

Barb said...

Confessor, thanks for commenting. yep. We were not allowed to meet with the leaders or the church but they met without us. But then we were part of the problem for years.

nessie said...

Hi Barb

I'm a relatively new blogger. In my search for a personal and honest relationship with God, I also sometimes blog about things that people may see as disloyal or negative. This has never been my intention. My blog is relatively anonymous - any friend who finds it will know it's me, there's certainly more than enough information. The reason why I won't use any one else's names, any distinctive characteristics, or even give the name of my church isn't out of a place of deception, but because I think in blogging about this, my intentions have more to do with self-change and accountability. I think it's wiser not to give away too much information, as we aren't here to judge and when the heat of the moment is over, we can regret what we said in bitterness or anger. What's more important, I think, is addressing the situations that grip us, and clearly, these are not isolated issues.

Anonymous said...

I blog anonymously because I have things to say that would damage the innocent. For the same reason I change some names and places that I post about. I am passionate about others seeing the deception of the Institutional System called church.

The Lord started to speak to me in the early 1980s about Eldership and the idolatrous and heretical nature of the hierarchical system, and he has revealed more and more over the ensuing years.

However, because I have personally walked in these revelations, I have had far more personal freedom than most who idolise the system or the leadership.

Unfortunately there is a serious downside in knowing and walking in these things. It doesn't take long before the Ruling Demonic Powers behind the institutional system find you out, and confrontation occurs.

I was a pillar of the establishment in the first church for 18 years. This was a Charismatic bible teaching church with an international reputation. Although never an "Elder", I was a deacon and home group leader.

I was thrown out in about 92. They denounced me and "rendered me unto Satan". They said that they would support my then wife if she chose to leave me. They told my Christian business staff that they should find other work, and that God would vindicate their judgement when the business went bankrupt. The elders told the church that they would also come under the same cursing we were under if they associated with us.

Living in a small town it was horrendous. All our friends of many years crossed to the other side of the road when they saw us.
IT WAS CHURCH WITCHCRAFT. There is no other way to describe it.

They even took it out on my 14 year old son. He decided that it would be ok to continue to go to the youth club. The first week the leaders would not talk to him, he came home in tears. The second week the other children also stopped talking to him. He couldn't face a third week.

All the feelings that you describe we experienced but from the other side. Although it was couched in spirituality it was so demonic, and the other church members were so blinded to the abuse done in their names.

Walking in the true freedom of Christ within the system is impossible, you have to compromise far too much. They demand idolatry in all but name. Worship as a word means to bow before, or kiss the hand of. There is no other way to describe the demand of the Institutional System.

I have been thrown out of a total of 4 churches now. This happens mainly because I am free inside and it shows from the outside.

The last church we were in we chose to leave amicably and were blessed in going for a change. We are now totally outside of the system and enjoying a guilt free wonderful life with Christ.