Yesterday the last straw hit. A friend texted and wondered where I’d been at the worship team dinner the night before, because my husband had been there.
Backstory: We were both told we had to step down from serving on that team when we separated last year. But for some reason he showed up at the dinner for worship leaders. A dinner I didn’t even know about because they have taken me off the email list. A dinner at which, I found out later from another friend, he lied about my whereabouts when asked, saying I had stayed home to take care of the daughter with the concussion, and also explained my absence from church services for the past three weeks by implying that I had been attending the Church on the Beach service that he attends.
I sent a less-than-gracious email to the two leaders of the team simply stating what had happened and asking them if they had any explanation for it. (No reply yet. I didn’t get a reply last time something similar came up with regards to him and the worship team either, so I’m not holding my breath).
And then I decided that it was time to post on Facebook and let people know what has been going on in my life. I’ve been wanting to do this for months – I had the feeling that apart from that handful of misled leaders, people are generally awesome and that they only reason people weren’t reaching out to me was that they had no idea what I was going through. They only knew I didn’t play on the worship team any more.
So with much prayer and even more editing, I crafted my post. I did my best to focus it on what I am personally experiencing rather than airing dirty laundry or calling out specific people in leadership who have hurt me with their negligence and oversight.
It was a relief to write it, because now at least I won’t have to have as many hurried 30-second conversations at inopportune moments trying to explain this tangled mess to well-meaning friends who greet me and ask how my hubby is and why he isn’t with me. I thought maybe a few friends would post comments and offer to pray.
I was not prepared for what actually happened.
At this point, there are 79 “reactions” (likes, hearts, sad faces etc) to my post. And 104 comments. My Facebook messenger app was so full it was layering the messages across the bottom of my screen – I would get part way through reading one and a new one would pop up in front of it. My phone was lighting up with texts non-stop until midnight. One pastor friend from another state and his wife called me to apologize for the way my church has treated me (he used to be on staff there years ago).
And then there were the most precious reactions of people wanting to help and looking for ways to do it:
One friend texted me recommendations for two doctors – one for my frozen shoulder and the other for my daughter’s concussion. He left the marital stuff alone and simply offered help where he could see we had a need.
Another friend, who has been through this himself, started sending me funny memes (and I mean, REALLY funny, causing me to literally laugh out loud to the point where the dog was looking at me warily) in between commiserating and letting me know he knew exactly what went on in church leadership in this area and even understands why it’s set up that way.
And by far my favorite reaction was the friend who said not a word on Facebook but showed up on my doorstep an hour after I posted with a bag of carrots and beets he had just picked for me out of his garden. He is a fabulous farmer but not big on words. He handed me the produce, gazed at me with compressed lips, nodding, then whispered, “Anything I can do. Call.” And turned and walked away.
Not one person out of all of these comments, reactions, messages, emails and texts condemned me. Not one person spoke up in judgment. Not one said, “Maybe the church has a point and you do need to repent after all.”
Faith in humanity: Restored.
Here’s the post:
I generally post smiling pictures and beautiful scenes and funny anecdotes here on Facebook, because Facebook is my happy place. But I was recently told by a church leader that the reason she had not contacted me in months despite me sending her a plea for help back in June was that she thought I was doing just fine, based on my Instagram feed.
So let me just go on record that when I post on social media, I am intentionally focusing on the good. I don’t have photos to post of the anguish I’ve been going through for the past number of years and I won’t be posting all the details of how my kids and I are wounded and hurting. I won’t post details here other than to say that we asked my husband to move out of the house last December.
I am heartbroken that it got to that point. I’m trying to start my life over. My kids and I are trying to heal, and it is a long and slow process. It doesn’t help that I have been banned from serving in ministry, told I need to repent, pushed to reconcile even while my head was still spinning and my heart was shut down and subsequently ignored for months at a time. It doesn’t help that I have “good” friends of many years who suddenly stopped responding to my texts, with no explanation given.
This has not shaken my faith in God, because He remains faithful and comforts and guides me still. In fact, quite the opposite, it has driven me to lean on Him and relate to Him on a much deeper level. I don’t have to convince Him of my pain and I don’t have to explain the details to Him. And I know He hasn’t banned me from ministry – He sent me a dear homeless woman to hug just this morning.
On the other hand, people are human both inside and out of the church, and no one is ever 100% successful in living up to their stated belief system. So I get that, and I forgive those who have made mistakes or dropped the ball. And at least now I am aware that one should never trust an institution for help in a time of need (Which, now that I say it, is kind of a “Duh” statement).
I have found a new place to worship and heal. I am making new friends and trying to start a new, positive life. And I still have many, many old friends who are awesome and are walking beside me, encouraging me and supporting me and my kids. It’s not all gloom and doom. But there are times like today, particularly when I discover another point of being shunned or ignored or overlooked, when I have to work my way out of despair and pain.
So if I post a picture of a flower or a sunset, or report on something I found amusing, that might just be because I wanted to share.
Or it might be me trying to climb back into life.