I am finally free…

I find myself in a curious situation of late. The situation will likely not make sense to those who don’t really know our story. The story, as it were, is long and drawn out so I will offer you the 25 cent version.

Basically, we moved to Minnesota for a job in a friend’s church. Hubs was trained as a pastor but was hired as an administrator at this church. Shortly upon arriving here we realized we were in way over our heads. The church was much more conservative than we had realized and their opinions on gender roles, marriage, etc. were far to the right of where we would ever have placed ourselves, but our friend had gone through a bit of trouble to get us to Minnesota and give Hubs this opportunity, so we felt a little stuck.

Over time and through many unpleasant experiences with the people in the church and the leadership, I realized I couldn’t fake it anymore. I was not, nor will I ever be, a woman who would fit their mold. I am forthright, strong-willed, goal-driven. I don’t submit easily and our marriage is quite egalitarian. These points were all points of contention and it became a constant battle of me trying to make myself look the way they wanted me to look and behave the way women “should” behave. In the end, we decided we needed to leave. I remember a conversation I had with a Deacon at the very end where I gave him a piece of my mind. He said, “You have no right to speak to me so boldly,” and I said, “Well, actually, we are both humans and I most certainly do.” He was speechless.

Upon leaving, we didn’t want to cause any trouble for our friend, so we left quietly. However, I always felt in some way controlled by them. I think, looking back, there was definite psychological damage done, all in the name of Jesus. Ironic. After we left, I blocked everyone I could think of who attended the church from all my social media. Whenever we would see one of them when we were out and about, we’d say, “Alert, alert!,” and go off in another direction. It’s like we were living scared.

However, we recently found out that our friend is no longer the pastor there and suddenly my world has opened up. For whatever reason, I now feel completely free of that place. I think, despite my feelings about the church, I felt some sort of loyalty to our friend. With him no longer working there, I feel free of those people and the power they once had over my life. I have realized, I hate that place. I hate what it does to lives. I hate the teachings and the way it made me view God and people outside of Christianity. And realizing all this, the healing can begin. I don’t need to have hate but pity, as I have realized their theology leaves those who can’t measure up feeling stranded and hopeless. Thank goodness, we are never really stranded or hopeless.

I have unblocked all those people from my social media. I am not afraid of them anymore. I am not afraid to see them out and about. I feel like I can stand up straight knowing I make mistakes and so do they. Their judgment, which will always be there, doesn’t matter to me anymore. It suddenly feels like a distant, unpleasant memory. The only artifact of the whole thing is that we live here in Minnesota, where we moved to for a job in a place that essentially no longer exists as we knew it. I am free, and while I have always been free, now I actually feel it.

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10 thoughts on “I am finally free…”

  1. Dear friend,

    I read your blog today. I also read your comment on Paul’s Passing Thoughts regarding your “dinner” with the folks at Redeemer. Although it didn’t surprise me, it still took my breath away. Although I’ve seen it again and again, it still shocks me that someone…in the name of God…would decide that it is their mission in life to teach you how to better comply with their idea of godliness. I’m so sorry you had to endure that. I’ve been thrilled to read your comments and now to discover your blog. You’re a gifted writer and a wise soul. I appreciate you and the perspective you’ve shared. I’m grateful to God that you’re free!

  2. MPLS, can I ask you…did the deacon REALLY say, “you have no right to talk to me so boldly”?? He actually questioned your right to talk? AND, to talk “boldly”?? I ask because I can hardly believe it even though I maintain that the theology Redeemer pushes produces this kind of thinking. Did he REALLY use those words? There’s a seminar in just that ONE encounter you describe. Living, breathing spiritual abuse illustrated in that ONE encounter. Breathtaking…..

  3. I used to attend this church, and my spouse and I even made the mistake of becoming members. Thankfully, neither of us were involved enough to have experienced abuse, but have heard plenty of unbelievable stories since. We left well before that pastor did, when we began to see that what was being built up was not the kingdom of Christ, but the kingdom of men. I still struggle with the fact that I allowed warped thinking in my theology as a result of our time spent there, and my radar has become extremely sensitive toward “shepherding…” But the Lord taught us a lot about discernment through our time there, He was faithful to lead us out, and there’s all the reassurance in the world in trusting in Him as The Good Shepherd!

    I don’t recognize your face from your picture – I wish we’dve crossed paths in that place. It’s deeply encouraging to be reminded that we’re not the only ones who made it back out into the light. Thank you. I hope you and your husband find/have found a church that has Jesus Christ firmly seated at the head of it!

      1. Jesus said, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36
        That promise has been gaining new depth of understanding for me as of late!

  4. the great thing about having your own blog is that you can say whatever you want and nobody can really call you out on it.
    It’s your own reality.
    I’m glad you’re finally over it.

    1. The great thing about having left is not having to deal with “loving” Christians like yourself anymore, if you are who I think you are. These were my experiences. I am sorry you are so filled with anger, though I am not entirely sure why it’s directed at me. But, unfortunately I am not surprised. I fear you not, nor your opinions. You are entitled them.

      Additionally, what exactly is the proper venue for stating an experience about the church? Am I supposed to turn up on a Sunday and ask for a mic? Schedule a meeting with the elders? I made my opinions about the theology and my experiences with the people known to the pastor and others in leadership before I left. And the fact that I approved your nasty comment further evidences that my blog is a perfect place to discuss what happened and an equally appropriate place for you to “call me out on it.” Regards to you, Leah. I hope you find a bit of actual grace at some point in your existence.

  5. My wife Dania and I were acquaintances of yours and theirs from Rutgers. We just learned of this mess and I can say that we both knew it was a matter of time and we got away from that crowd while we were still in school, thank God. We were close friends with them for a while but it was always troubling for us internally. I totally know what you’re talking about here…thankfully we moved on before any of our important life decisions were made. I know others weren’t so fortunate. The Church in E. Millstone was like a cult and I was treated like an apostate when we left…just nuts. I, too, feel a sense of relief–not in a vengeful way, but in the sense of having my questions and decisions vindicated in the end. God bless you all. – Bill Michael

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