Why I’ve Been Quiet

It’s been difficult to write this week. A couple of recent incidents left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I am struggling to rid myself of the bitterness.

I don’t want the things I write here poisoned with bitterness. Today’s post is an honest reflection of my struggle to walk through the hurt.

Can I honestly say I have forgiven if I do not feel warmly about the people involved in our spiritual abuse?

I want to leave it all in God’s hands. I understand that justice and judgment belong to Him. But when seeing the person responsible for our abuse, I feel violated, nauseous. I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to be reminded that he got away with it. No one suspects a thing. His reputation is intact. Those around him submit to him as their spiritual leader.

I know what I “should” feel. It is frustrating having to continually forgive, let go, and try to heal. I feel so low on the grace I need to get past this. I am tempted to hit the delete button and pretend everything is great, but this is my reality today. Sorry.

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19 thoughts on “Why I’ve Been Quiet

  1. I don’t know how long we have to deal with that. It sad when people who hurt us are acting as nothing happened or they are thinking that they are doing the right thing.
    I still don’t understand why God is letting them being in charge of a church, so I have to think He knows better than me.
    Now I’m living at thousand of miles from Vail, CO, though I don’t see them sometimes I get known about their life/action because I also received this treatment from a guy of my country that live there.
    That’s interesting about the dreams. On the same week when I was told I don’t have the position at the Christian School (the day I was going to sign the contract, the principal told me that the senior pastor want to talk with me about it, because wasn’t her decision) I have a dream about who were taking that position.
    After 2 month of that dream I could see how that dream becomes real. The guy from my country, one’ of the “pastor” of that church influence in others on that decision and he received that position. Well, that was only a part of what I had to pass through.
    I also think Jesus in his love was sometimes hard talking with the arrogant Pharisees.
    In the meanwhile, I read about emerging conversation and I’m listen some sermons about it, and what I can say is that I’m glad that there’s a difference.
    Sorry… I know my English is not perfect.

  2. grace,

    Thank you for your honesty. I think my wife and I can understand some of what you are feeling. You are not alone in all of this!

    But even more importantly than our ability to identify with you in your feelings, our High Priest is able to identify with you. I don’t say that flippantly, but to encourage you to stay true to what you know.

    Your blog is a blessing to me. Thank you for writing what you do.

    God bless,
    steve :)

  3. Grace,
    Honesty is the closest thing to the holiness of God. Thank you. With Steve above and his wife, Julie and I enter into this with you and identify with your feelings. “He walked where we walk; He felt what we feel….”

  4. Once again, you put into words some of Wendy’s and my journey. Praying for you. I know how it feels!

    Something that I’ve been ruminating on recently (this may or may not “fit” with your post, so feel free to disregard if necessary):

    “Forgiveness does not require repentence, but reconciliation does.”

  5. I agree with David. Forgiveness must be done so bitterness does not take root but it is the much more difficult thing to do at the time. I think your bringing your feelings to light is a huge step in that direction and seeing the comments above shows that you are not alone. You are not the only one to have this happen. They also show that by bringing your experiences into the light you can help others to do the same.

    I wonder if it is in honestly sharing our “stuff” with others that Jesus is spoken? He is truth incarnate and in our speaking honestly/truthfully, does at least a glimpse of Him show itself?

  6. Grace, I do think you can say you’ve forigven without feeling good about those who hurt you. It’s taken me a decade to get to this point, you remember. Robby is right. Reconciliation isn’t synonymous with forgiveness. I think in our PollyAnna-infused Christianese-speaking God cult-ure we’ve gotten used to the notion that forgiving can always be instantaneous (if you’re Godly enough) and that after forgiving someone, our emotions are immediately transformed (or you never really forgave). I dont buy it.

    To my knowledge, those who hurt me never repented. I have forgiven them. But I go out of my way never to see them, lest I UN-forgive them. I know that flies in the face of how we’re “supposed” to feel and behave, but I’m pretty firm in it at this point. I don’t want to see them. I don’t feel compelled to “test” my level of forgiveness.My forgiveness is for my sake entirely- not at all for them since they don’t seem to think they need to be forgiven.

    I’d like to ask you to consider that maybe you don’t know how you “should” feel but perhaps know how others say you should feel. I think that in some cases our expectations of ourselves need as much healing as our wounds.

  7. I, too, had that sensation of naseau. On a couple of occassions I returned to the church building for baby showers and I felt sick as soon as I entered the parking lot. I had to sit in the car for several minutes to calm my nerves/stomach and talk myself into walking into that building and facing those who had hurt us. I knew that most of the people inside those walls had nothing to do with the abuse and were really pretty clueless about it. There were people in there that still loved me and would be glad to see me, but the knowledge that I might see one or two certain people was paralyzing.

    I think I’ve forgiven. I don’t hold any ill-will…I just don’t care to see them or talk to them if it can be avoided. I think the hardest thing for me is knowing that those who hurt us feel no need for repentance. I feel like they got away with something
    and pulled the wool over the eyes of those who have entrusted them to lead.
    I think it’s hard to put closure on the process of forgiveness when the “guilty” party is not seeking to make amends.

    Travel your own path to healing and don’t let anyone tell you what you should be feeling. You’re helping me so much and I’m glad you’re willing to speak what’s on your heart!

  8. Interesting post and comments. Are we to forgive if the person(s) who wrongs us never asks for forgiveness? Never repents about how they treated us? Jesus talked about the person doing the wrong to us returning and asking for forgiveness, and we are damned it we don’t give that forgiveness. But how do we forgive if we aren’t asked for forgiveness? Does God forgive us if we don’t repent and ask? It’s much easier for me to forgive when someone wants forgiveness, than to forgive someone who doesn’t care one bit how they made me feel.

    Just some thoughts I’ve never thought before.

    B~

  9. You guys are so awesome! Thank you for your encouraging comments.

    hugo,
    I don’t really like knowing about what’s going on at the old place, but I think in some ways it helps so that I will deal with it instead of pretending it didn’t happen. I can see that God is using what happened to grow me up, even though sometimes it’s with lots of complaining on my part. I pray that you will also experience His grace as you grow beyond the painful times.
    Blessings to you, and your english is fine, better than my spanish. :)

    steve,
    Thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes when the hurt is triggered, I do lose track of what I know is true.
    Great discussion going on at your blog by the way. I’ve been trying to keep up with reading the latest few posts and comments.

    john,
    Thank you for your support. I know that this is just another step in the journey to eventually being completely healed. It’s too bad it’s not a once-and-for-all sort of healing.

    robby,
    Thanks for praying, it helped. The darkness and despair have lifted. I’ll be commenting over at your place about reconciliation.

    david,
    Yes, and maybe there are levels of forgiveness. Right now I’m at the level where I can say, “I forgive you, but I would rather not look at your face.” I’m guessing that’s probably less than complete. God will have to help me forgive more, cuz that’s all I’ve got for now.

    Thanks Pam, I needed that. :)

    oops! I’ve got to run.
    Replies coming later for everyone.

  10. Bruce: What do you think of the following comments in response to some of your questions?

    Forgiveness is not pretending you have not been hurt. Forgiveness is separate from trust and reconciliation. Forgiveness of someone does not preclude accountability especially in the case of unlawful acts. Restoration of full fellowship can only occur after change (repentance occurs). I don’t think “forgive and forget” is biblical. We will remember what happened to us, likely for a very long time depending upon what happened and trust will then take a long time to be restored. Forgiveness is first and foremost FOR US rather than for the other person. In that respect it doesn’t matter what the other person does or doesn’t do. It is for us because it does not allow bitterness and judgment to grow within us and it does not allow a foothold for the enemy. It is for us because it keeps us in the position of receiving God’s forgiveness.

    Confession (agreeing with the Holy Spirit’s assessment of our behavior as sin) and Repentance (and sometimes even restitution)are fundamental aspects of Christian life. Confession of sin before another person who is a mature Christian is very powerful in that it brings the sin to light so it can lose the power of darkness attached to it and also gives a witness to the fact that it was forgiven in Christ when the enemy tries to accuse us again over the same sin. It is partly what being a priesthood of believers is about.

  11. Grace, I didn’t realize you were reading my blog. I hope it is a blessing to you! Feel free to chime in as your time and interest allow you.

    steve :)

  12. Hey there, Nice to read a blog of someone being REAL! We all have good & bad times. My husband and I are currently in a very similar situation. How well I know what it’s like to be spiritually abused. If you read some of my archived posts, you will learn the details. I just want to let you know that I hear you and I care. I hope you find the healing & a sense of forgiveness.

    Shake the dust off your feet & move on. Congratulations on letting go of the church-centered life. God bless you, Grace!!

  13. I know a pastor that had to deal with the same conflict.

    Does one tell of another sins and transgressions or do you put it in Gods hands and let it be?

    He followed Gods leading and walked away from that situation and left it in Gods hands.

    It is best to allow God to deal with something like that most of the time.

    If the person is hurting others..such as sexual/child/ spouse abuse..then it is the duty of anyone who knows to stop such actions.

    But if the person has serious character issues and/or moral issues. Then let God deal with it.

    It all comes down to one question really…Do YOU trust Jesus enough to deal with it.

    There is a verse, forgive me if somebody already posted it…it says something like…’don’t envy the unrighteous man when he prospers in his ways….” paraphrased…For God knows the end of such men.

    MAYBE YOU CAN USE THE HURT YOU FEEL AS FUEL TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING TO HURT OTHERS?

    Sometimes we put down and segregate a whole group of people, hurting their hearts, by calling into question their belief systems, or by stereotyping them, as this or that, when we feel hurt.

    I see that theme a lot in blogging..somebody was hurt by a church..so now every or most charismatics are high minded or crazy..Or somebody is hurt by a group, so the local church is no longer relevant…even though..it is clear by scripture that the local church body is vry..very important..especially as His return draws closer.

  14. inheritor,
    I am hopeful that my feelings will eventually come into line with the “legality” of forgiving.

    My understanding of forgiveness and reconciliation is pretty much the same as what you explained. I forgive because I believe it is what is necessary.

    Restitution is an aspect of this that might be interesting to discuss.

    cindy,
    Thank you for what you shared. It really helped. I seem to go through a cycle of UNforgiving, repenting, and then REforgiving. 70 times 7, right?

    I have to believe there will come a day when I will feel at peace about all of it.

    angela,
    Thanks so much for what you shared. I can identify with everything that you said.

    It is hard feeling like they got away with it and that so many people willingly follow along, especially in participating in the shunning, without even questioning.

    bruce,
    Great questions. I forgive in order to free myself from the person who hurt me. I choose not to be linked to them with a cord of bitterness. Therefore, I willingly cut that cord, and release myself.

    steve,
    I will chime in sometime. I find myself very much in agreement with the things you are writing, and I really appreciate the generous tone among your commentors.

    trailady,
    It’s great to meet you. I think I am finally getting to the moving on phase. It seems up until now I’ve been grieving and letting go.

    randy,
    I really appreciate what you’ve shared. At the time we left, fortunately the Lord was very clear in directing us to leave quietly without bringing accusation, and leaving it in his hands.

    Right now, I’m trying to release my concern for how He deals with it. I don’t want to be watching for when they “get theirs.” However, I still struggle when they appear to flourish.

    One of the things I am grateful for has been the process of stepping back and examining the things that I believe and value. I have certainly learned a lot. There are old things I have rejected and new things I have embraced.

    I agree with you that I don’t want bitterness and divisiveness to poison my future. I try to continue to examine my heart and deal with the wickedness I find.

    Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  15. I hope you don’t mind if I join in the conversation. I had an experience at my former church that I would characterize as abusive. Leaving was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made. It was hard to walk away from so many people that I had loved and loved me. It was also hard to accept that these people I had loved and trusted would betray me so completely. In a lot of ways, it remains a very painful part of my life.

    But one thing was very helpful for me on the subject of forgiveness. I was struggling to forgive and finding it very difficult to do so when the person did not even admit he had done anything wrong. And this bishop told me it was too soon to forgive. He said forgiveness is of course where we all want to be, and with God’s grace we will get there. But he then said that forgiveness is a process that doesn’t happen overnight, even when we want it to. And sometimes by trying so hard to forgive to soon we don’t go through the whole process of dealing with the grief, the anger and the pain. Then he said I needed to give myself a break, allow myself to feel whatever I was feeling, share those feelings honestly with God (God can take it you know), and with time forgiveness would come. But forgiveness doesn’t come by concentrating on the need to forgive. Forgiveness comes in the difficult, arduous journey toward healing.

    What I took that to mean was that if I concentrate on healing, and asking God for healing, then eventually forgiveness will come out of that. But if I concentrate solely on forgiveness, then I never give myself a chance to heal and any forgiveness I try to offer isn’t genuine.

    Anyway, hope this helps.

  16. anonymous,
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I think what you said is very true, and that to focus on the healing rather than the forgiveness is a good point.

    Possibly some of this is semantics, but as far as forgiveness goes, I’ve looked at it as simply releasing my right to stand in judgment over this person.

    In a technical sense, I’m fine with that. But in a heart sense, I know that I’m not a place of loving and blessing them yet.

    I believe though, as you said, that if I continue to pursue healing, I will eventually find honest peace about the entire situation so that the forgiveness is truly genuine.

    I really appreciate what you’ve shared here.

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