Monday, July 2, 2007

Not OK Yet

Sometimes Husband and I look at each other and smile and say to each other that we feel virtually unscathed. We left our church about 2 months ago. Yes, we lost a lot of friends but we have not been separated from some of our best friends who are leaving or have already left. We have a whole community that received us with grace and joy and forgiveness. We still love God. We are growing in a simple gospel of Grace that is truly good news. Our kids are fine so far. So we are OK…..right?

The other day I had a friend from out of town visit. She had listened to my story for a while. Then she said to me. “I think that you should use this time of tenderness and healing to spend in intercessory prayer for your region and for what God puts on your heart.”

I suddenly wanted to be sick. I had a fleeting moment that wanted to be sick ON her. I know she could tell by my face that I was not (at all) receiving her message to me with any excitement whatsoever.

I finally told her what was bothering me. I did not even want to hear the word “Prayer” without having the reaction of wanting to punch her – And I didn’t think I was a violent person. I realized that day that “Prayer” was not a pleasant word to me right now.

Later that day, we talked more about it. I explained to her that the very word “Prayer” conjured up circles of “intercessors” praying for the leaders vision. (who gave us that title of intercessors anyway) It brought up times we spent in prayer for prophetic promises that never came true. It brought up times of “pushing through,” “believing for,” “agreeing together,” “speaking out,” and “prophesying over.” My times of praying had been used for the purposes of our leaders and myself to get our will accomplished. In actuality, it seems there was a LOT of wasted time. There were huge loads of guilt heaped on all of us for obviously not praying enough to get this stuff done on earth as it is in heaven. At least it felt that way.

But my reaction to a positively harmless word was a bit much. I sat back and laughed later that night. I guess there is still some healing to be done. I don’t mind talking to Father about things. Maybe someday I will be able to call it prayer again. For now I’ll just call it talking. And don’t ask me to do it in a group for a while.

So don’t mention prayer to me for a while……. especially if it is accompanied by the word should.


Anonymous said...

I hear you ... you are not alone with this feeling. Talking is just as good a word right now. Guilt, legalism etc which IC heaps on people has a lot to answer to, eh? There will be healing for many months to come :)

Mary said...

I know what you mean. The other day I was listening to a tape from a conference. After the main speaker finished, the hosting pastor started doing the "build up" to the offereing time. I wanted to throw up. I thought, "Just say you want money. Stop making it sound spiritual!" Actually, I don't have an argument with what the pastor actually said, but it brought up so many memories of some heavy-handed, manipulative offering times that I've witnessed. My reaction kind of caught me off guard. The detox and healing process seems to come and go in waves. I'm so thankful for the blogosphere and to have met people like you who understand.

Erin said...

I completely understand. Same thing for me with the words "Bible" paired with "should read" because of the way it was manipulated...

But the intercessory thing...I so know what you're talking about. It would make me so mad at dear and loving friends. In retrospect I can't believe the stuff I interceded for and it brought me so much shame that I had let the concept of prayer become so twisted.

Marti G said...

I still surprise myself with my visceral reaction to things like this. There are some things I just won't do again, unless I get clear direction from Father that He wants me there.... intecessory prayer meetings, "come get a word from the traveling prophet" meetings, "big man preacher visiting because Today's a New Day" meetings, and the like. Ick.

That said, there is something real about prayer with other people that intrigues me, even though I've not touched it. I have no idea how this might really flesh out. But I trust that when it's time, Father will bring it my way.

Anonymous said...

I left our intercessory team before leaving the church. It all started with a dream that I had. In the dream, I was looking down on our prayer team and they were praying over my mother. After watching for a moment, I turned and went into the bathroom and there was feces oozing out of the sinks, the walls, everywhere. I wasn't startled or disgusted . . . just started cleaning, scraping and cleaning. After awhile, I went out and saw the team was still praying over my mother so I went back into the bathroom to clean. This repeated several times before the dream ended.

I believe the dream means that we are just spending time praying over the church meanwhile there's a lot of crap out in the world that needs to be cleaned up ... but we are too busy praying over the church. In fact, some of the crap is inside the church ... maybe most of it.

I just got so tired of being prayed for and no practical help. It got to the point if someone else patted me on the shoulder and said they were praying for me, I would have slapped them. I thought it better to leave.

Martha said...

Sad how something as good and holy as prayer can become so twisted in the church, of all places. Funny, I get that same sickening feeling that you have described in response to words like authority, submission, leadership...I know these things have their proper place in the church, as in any other organization. But, I cannot even bring myself to read about David in the Bible because the lesson about not touching the Lord's annointed was thrown in my face so much. I have a hard time listening to ANY teaching regarding "leadership," and I wonder sometimes if I have boomerang-ed my way to total rebellion (or is that the old manipulation/mind games replaying in my head???)

I think you are correct that our resistance and aversion to certain words or topics is an indicator that there is more healing to be done. Just when I think I'm over it all, I will hear something that brings it all back and makes me angry and sick. But Jesus heals it all, if we allow Him to. It is good to be aware of those areas that need healing.

carol said...

I read your post and it reminded me of something I wrote back in May, on my own blog.

and all those years spent in legalism come roaring back to me.
because a good Christian woman, wife,mother, SHOULD always start her day in prayer, with the Lord, studying scriptures.
because if you don't then you are not that good Christian woman, wife, mother
and, you know,
you really should be."

We've been out of our abusive church situation for over 9 years now. I've never,ever dealt with it. Ever. I just walked away and stuffed it all. Pretended it never happened. Ignored all of the stuff. Just pretended it didn't bother me, didn't affect me.

9 years later and we're getting involved in a church again and its all coming up and out, like a roaring volcano. Its not fun, its not pretty. I've found that "church" people either don't know how to deal with me or don't want to hear about it.

However, via the internet and blogs like yours here. I've found I'm not so totally alone in all of this.
Thank You!

Anonymous said...

It's great to see people getting detoxed from the man church. I have seen these excesses also.
Mr. grace

Barb said...

Thanks lynn!

Mary, Yep, offerings would do it to me right now too.

Erin, wouldn't it have been cool to have "can read" attached to Bible growing up?

Cynthia, yep - better to leave. Quite a dream though. We are so busy in "church" that we don't have time to be the Church

Martha, I read the book Under Authority several times over while coming out of our CLB. (Bevere) I really had to wrestle with all that. The only thing though is what about Jehu killing Ahab and Jezabel? He touched God's anointed didn't he? This book is really miss-used by the charismatic church.

cmm, You know. I think those that say that a mom, especially a mom of young children "should" start the day off in prayer are probably men who never once a day in their lives had to get up 3 times at night with a fussy baby and then again at 7:00 to feed the rest of the kids. I have a few "shoulds" for them!!

Mr. Grace - I like that - man church!

Thanks for commenting guys! You are such an encouragement to me.
Former Leader

Rob said...

We were never part of the intercessor's elite in our CLB('s); I think it was my rolling-of-the-eyes at people "travailing in spiritual child-birth" that kept me out of the inner circle of God's enforcers. :)

So, I guess I've always held "intercession" at arms length -- at least, the way intercession was understood and practiced by many around me. Wendy & I always preferred the prayer times in our home, with about 40 teenagers and college students, sans hype, hysteria, or grandiose theatrics.

We're still wrestling through the place of intercession, the prophetic etc. in the missional context. There's God-stuff that we need to hold on to, but weeding out the bogus is hard work at times. And because certain terms are LOADED FOR BEAR for a lot of us, doesn't make it any easier (I'm not even wanting to tackle where deliverance ministry might fit -- at least, not yet!).

I appreciate the candor of your posts. I can see why you and Emerging Grace get along so well. :)

Barb said...

I wish I had the guts to roll my eyes. I was too concerned with being sidelined off the "A team." I thought it though. I just mostly thought that I was evil and not spiritual enough to get it.

As for Emerging Grace, I wrote in a comment once when I had just found her blog that I either knew her or was her. So much of what she said seemed to come straight from the pages of my own story and heart.

Former Leader

Anonymous said...

Trigger words are very common for people who have left abusive spiritual systems. One word can just make you flashback to a painful moment. For me it's the word "Commitment". It's the word that the former leaders of my first church would use to blackmail me into doing what they want. And when I hear people saying, "You have to have commitment" to me, I'd literally freeze or snarl at them in fury. That's how a reaction I get over a mere word. So it's very normal, Former Leader. In time, the effect will be less strong. :)

Anonymous said...

My husband and I left our 'leadership positions' and our charismatic apostolic faith church in April of 2007. In July 2008 I met an old friend/pastor/teacher from a different church that I hadn't seen since before we left institutional church. When he found out we weren't attending a local church he was distressed. He said in his kind, authoritative voice(he's a retired police officer)" You need to be a part of the local church, you're valuable servants." I wanted to scream! It took me a few days to figure out why I was so angry. Not only did being a local-church-servant not appeal to me( I had done that for 20 years)what REALLY bothered me was, that was why we were seen as valuable-because of what we could do. We were not valuable for simply being us, we were only seen as vauluable for what we could give or do. UGH!!! Why don't I miss this????