I often question why I continue writing about this journey. Occasionally, I take a few weeks to mull it over and decide whether I want to continue. I take a hard look at my motives and reread old posts trying to decide if I accurately and honestly conveyed my thoughts. I try to decide if I said enough or if I said too much. At one point, I even thought I had signed off for good. But, I always seem to find my way back to writing.
I guess I continue to feel the need to explain myself because some have discouraged me from writing about my experiences or questioned my motives in doing so. I fear at times that my writing about the experiences of the last 2 years will appear to be vengeful…which is definitely not my intent. At other times, I fear that I’m too timid in sharing the rawness of the truth in what has happened…only revealing certain parts of the story for fear of upsetting someone.
For today, here are the reasons I’m still writing:
- To survive…emotionally. Face-to-face conversations have been halted by those that I desperately wanted to continue a dialogue with and hoped to reconcile with. Some have said they are moving on with their lives. Some say that conversations can’t fix anything at this point…that we just need to forgive and pray. They say they hope we can still “fellowship”, but say they will not talk about the events of the past 2 years. When the conversations became too difficult, too painful, too challenging…they stopped talking and wanted to go back to exchanging smiles and pretending we are all ok. The words I longed to say now build inside me like steam building in a pressure cooker. I have no way to release them since no one is talking. Yes, I know the Sunday School answer. I should release the words and emotions to God and let Him take it from me. Have more faith. Pray more. Trust Him more. Believe me, I’ve tried. I continue to beg Him to take this from me. The truth is nothing helps like writing it down and getting it out of me. Interestingly, this feeling is the reason I’ve always disagreed with the parenting technique of telling a child, “I’m the parent. I love you, but we’re not going to talk about this anymore. I’ve made my decision and we’re done talking.” The abrupt halt to the discussion and refusal to hear another word builds tension, resentment and feelings of inferiority. Why does one family member (whether immediate family or church family) get to be the one to make the call and quiet the other? Even as a parent, I feel I have a responsibility to hear my sons out and try to come to a mutual agreement that we can both be at peace with unless they are in immediate danger. I desire a mutual respect in our relationship born out of our genuine love and concern for one another. In a “church family”, it seems especially odd to me that we talk about how it isn’t Biblical to “bail” during conflict, yet we refuse to talk about the conflict and force the hurting members into a world of silence to deal with their pain.
- The story needs to be told. When we were forced to resign in secrecy 25 years ago, I was afraid to speak because we were intimidated by church leadership into going along with their plan in silence to avoid them hurting our chances of finding another ministry position. Because we remained silent, we had to navigate the process completely alone. It was devastating. History has, in many ways, repeated itself in this same church in the last 2 years as church leadership once again forced ministers to resign and threatened them with losing their severance packages if they revealed to anyone what was actually happening to them. Even now, church leadership continues to intimidate people when they try to speak out about the injustices or press for a chance at reconciliation…threatening job security and “suggesting” they remove comments from social media. When will the cycle stop if everyone continues to be intimidated into remaining silent? How many more unsuspecting ministers will join the staff at this church based on the carefully crafted information presented to them in a deceivingly “normal” looking church profile…only to find themselves trapped in silence as they are forced to resign and uproot their families down the road? I can’t, in good conscience, as one who knows that pain first hand, remain silent any longer.
- Others who share similar experiences in church ministry need to know they aren’t alone. There is healing in sharing the burden with one another. No one should have to walk this road alone.
So, for now I’ll continue to write. And for those church folks who question my decision to write about this experience, I say: If we had talked openly and honestly about what has transpired over the last two years…for as long as it took to understand one another…no matter how uncomfortable or hard it became…and searched Scripture together to decide how to proceed in a Biblical manner…then I would have nothing to write about. I would still prefer to stop writing and start talking if anyone is interested.