Betrayal, When It Is Personal

Part 3 of 7

A quick turn of the wrist, and the knife was in our back. The leadership had turned on us.

The shepherds were deeming us the black sheep of the family. We were stripped of our reputation and rejected by those we loved and trusted.

There was nothing they could accuse us of other than questioning our motives and loyalty. We had served in our role wholeheartedly.

Curiously, not a single person mentioned concerns before the showdown. There was no Matthew 18 attempt to work things out, simply a trap to accuse.

We were portrayed as the enemy. A plot was conspired to destroy us. How could they treat us this way?

It still amazes me that one man’s evil intent could produce so much destruction in my life and end so many relationships that I thought were real.

Many of the effects of the abuse are irreversible. There are things that can’t be undone. The smear to our reputation and the damage to our relationships will never be mended.

I will never again be the person I was before this. It isn’t possible. The wounds will heal, but the scars will always be there. I am learning to accept the damage and scars.

I do feel similar to a victim of incest, like I am the one carrying around the dirty secret. Even though I was the victim, somehow the shame also ended up on my shoulders.

I will not participate in the culture of silence. Perhaps the church doesn’t want to acknowledge the ugliness that happens behind closed doors. To shame a victim of abuse into silence is to violate them once again.

It happened. I didn’t choose it. It can’t be dressed up to look nice. It was ugly, and it was wrong.

Although I am telling my story now, that does not mean that I live in the bitterness of it. In fact the opposite is true. God has been faithful to gently lead me through the healing process.

By His grace, I relinquish my need for justice.
By His grace, I choose to forgive and love.

“There is the power to create and love and there is the power to de-create and hate. One exists forever, the other is a passing shadow no matter how dark and ugly at the moment.” – Mac


19 thoughts on “Betrayal, When It Is Personal

  1. Grace, I wonder if you will take the attitude of Christ in all this…

    “..and he said nothing to his accusers…”

    “.. and love covers over a multitude of sin…

    “.. love does not delight in bring up and offence…”

    “.. bears no record of wrong…”

    “..repeating a matter separates friends…”

    I am concerned about the consequences of your bleeding heart… Do not let in defile others…

    (the reason I post this publicly, is because you choose to post this publicly, therefore you also have the option of delteing my post for better more sweet sounding words)

    I just wonder…if we could allow the process of restoration to take more time before we discuss our woundings with the world. The shame it communicates can destroy faith and cause fear and suspicion to root itself in hearts…

    I wonder…

  2. Casey,
    I am sorry that you believe me to be unChristlike and defiling.

    In leaving, my husband and I neither accused our abuser nor defended ourselves. The false accusations have been left to stand in our community.

    We are the ones who live with the condescending looks and being treated like a leper.

    Not to worry, no one suspects a thing. So the person who did this can continue in his position, surrounded by those who will pat him on the back and tell him how wonderful he is.

    If any of my 6 readers are bothered by these posts, I hope you will please skip them. I’m sure I’ll be on to more trivial things soon.

    My intention hasn’t been to bleed, ask for pity, or stir up hatred. The things like this that happen are sadly all too common.

    As long as we protect those incidents as a well-guarded secret for fear of shattering the facade, the root ot the problem will never be addressed.

    “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD. (Jer23:1)

    “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.” (Ezekiel 34:10)

    “for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:2-9)

    I wonder also.

  3. HI Grace,

    Casey said , “I am concerned about the consequences of your bleeding heart… Do not let in defile others…”

    Um, I’m ok with that. Bleed away on me. I don’t feel defiled at all. I choose to read your blog. If I get queasy around blood than perhaps I ought to be careful where I hang out, like not around bleeding people.

    I think the reminder Casey is stating here is good, yes, forgiveness and love and all of that is good, we’re all mature Christians and we know about Love Thy Neighbor and Forgive those who tresspass against us. However, when there is injustice and hypocrisy the bible does not tell us to stay quiet as if that was the only godly response. Yes, Jesus was unjustly accused and led like a lamb to slaughter…But, Who preached love and mercy to Jesus when he went after the moneychangers in the temple or called the religious leaders of his day (publicly) “white washed tombs”? He was quite violent about exposing the wrongs here. If Jesus had a blog I wonder what words he would have for leaders who abuse those who trust them?

    Hey, there’s a new slogan, What would Jesus blog? WWJB

    Spiritual abuse is wrong. Slander is wrong. And sometimes silence is wrong, too, because it enables evil to flourish.

    I’m sure Casey means well. But I respectfully disagree with their view point.

    Keep it coming to the light Grace. Seems to me wounds heal faster anyway when they are exposed.

  4. Grace,
    There is nothing “hateful” or “shameful” in this post. It is softly stated. I saw my parents go through something that sounds very similar…and they healed…but it took TIME. What “the church” has done over and over again to countless people is sinful…there is no shame in admitting that. I remember the words of Steve Brown: “The Church is a whore, but she is your mother.” The incest analogy is probably closer to the truth than we might want to admit.

    I’ve had my own dark nights of the soul…I do see some sunlight now…but it still seems as if it’s always threatening to rain. Much grace to you and your husband. Jesus is a wonderful friend…counselor…king…brother…and shepherd…

  5. Grace,

    My wife and I in many ways are still in recovery from a prior abuse at the hands of a church leader. I know the hurt. I know the disappointment. I the feelings of betrayal.

    I also have witnessed God restore us and I pray the same for you and your husband. Stay strong sister…

    With Love,

    The Wagners

  6. Grace, just to agree as well, I read no malice or accusation in your posts. I need the e-church, to calm my spirit and provide acceptance and community in a way that my local church cannot. I think the blog world is a gift God has given to many of us for the healing of our heart-wounds and the encouragement of our spirits. Peace, Grace.

  7. Casey, your comments are welcome here. I might not always agree with them, but I won’t delete them.

    Pam, your thoughts are always so well expressed. Thank you for saying what I meant. :)

    fr’nklin, your encouraging words meant a lot to me today. I pray for more sunlight for you also.

    rich, I’m sorry you’ve gone through the same thing. We are recovering also, not always as fast as we’d like, but definitely healing and growing.

    Cindy, I appreciate the e-friends I have made here. I see the emerging conversation as a group of people encouraging one another in whatever God has next. It has meant a lot to me to join in the conversation.

  8. Hmmm…
    I understand how easy it is to read between the lines in Cyberspace.

    My Comments, were in regards to the attitude of the posts that ‘may’ be percieved by some as ‘wounded’. I in no way called you ‘unChristlike’.

    I have been watching the Blogsphere for about four years.

    My observation so Far…

    “many of those that are Christian Bloggers, now do not participate in a ‘local church'”

    “most, the reason is due to a wounded or broken experience with a local church”

    “most now find church online, thus Resonate, Allelon, Ginkworld, THe Ooze, etc. (christian online communities?? can there be such a thing??”

    These are just observations… I am just watching and questioning… wondering …

    Whatis really happening here?

    I maybe disagreed with, but I am ok with that. I will endeavor tocontinue to communicate my observations and wonder aloud…

    THanks for the opportunity to do that “Grace”…

  9. Casey,
    This will be a good discussion to have at some point. I think I’ve hit aspects of it in various points.

    My understanding and perception is that most of the participants in the groups you mentioned are intent on being the church in their daily life and enjoy gathering with other believers, although their gatherings may not include bylaws and staff.

    But this gets into the issue of what constitutes church and which expressions of church are we willing to consider as legitimate, which is one of the main underlying themes in the emerging conversation.

    Have a good day in England.

  10. Thanks for your comment todd.

    Depending on the government structure, pastors are also sometimes the victims of this kind of abuse.

  11. Grace, pay NO attention to Casey D. He/she is the perfect example of the “protect the church at all cost” mentality. By his response, I seem to detect a small amount of guilt. Hmmmm. I received similar criticism on my blog for posting my ‘Long Road’ series. I think you are doing a very healthy thing here. You are expressing what happened without mentioning names of persons or the church where all this happened. It is obvious to me that you are not intending to sling hash, but to make sense of a VERY painful situation. The Bible quotes that your critic mentioned don’t necessarily apply here. Does this person go to the church where your bad experience happened? Where was this Casey with quotes during your betrayal? Instead of correcting you, he should be comforting you. The pain that you feel is searing upon the heart- I know because I’m there right now…

    Truly some of your innocence has been lost. It will be difficult to trust again. Mourn your losses. Keep handing your broken heart to Jesus and you will be strengthened. By the sound of it, you are already on the path to healing.

    Love & Prayers to You!!!!

  12. Grace,
    I have read all your spiritual abuse series and the “how to ruin a church” post. I hope you don’t mind, but I linked it to my blog. (I’ll remove it if you do.) My wife and I left our church of 13 years last summer. We were in full-time ministry there for 11 years as associate pastors and your story is mine, too. I can almost put people’s names in spots of your story. The only difference I can see was I was paid staff, and that my pastor was in the same situation as I was, dealing with an apostle. I would love to talk to you sometime. Maybe you can check out my blog and email me and we can talk. Thanks for sharing your story. The good thing is that we find out because of it, we’re not alone. The bad thing is we’re not alone. This ought not happen in the Body of Christ. This is not the Church Jesus built. Thank you again.

  13. I know this is an old post… but for some reason God brought me here. I’m dealing with my own betrayal, and it hurts deeply, and leaves me wanting to know why. I really don’t have the words to express it. You have. Thanks.

  14. Our family went through similar circumstnaces. It is now two years later and I find myself with spiritual residue from the experience. Most of the church there when our abusive pastor arrived is now gone, but there are two families left. When they have left, I feel I can rest, but as long as I know they are suffering there, I can’t. For a year and a half I was silent as they suffered, but I have recently felt that Jesus himself did not stay silent in the face of Pharisaical abuse. They tried to guilt him for not washing his hands before eating, for his disciples plucking corn on the sabbath, for eating and drinking, for practicing medicine on the sabbath. He spoke up and called them vipers. He overturned their power play tactics. He was not silent and gentle with those who used religion as a club. Sites like these are helpful for those of us under false guilt.

  15. warming,
    Sorry that you’ve experienced this also. Every situation is so different, so it’s hard to generalize how or when people should speak up. Of course we can follow the Spirit as he directs us. My main concern is always that those who have been abused guard their hearts from further damage.

  16. Hello. I too have had a similar experience and am on the healing journey. I am processing my emotions in a healthy environment where forgiveness has been a process. I find I am struggling constantly with trust. Just when I think I’m OK …. someone says something and I’m looking at the issue again. I have written part of my story on my blog. I called it The Smoke & Mirrors of Spiritual Abuse on …I hope it also helps someone on their own journey.

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