Friday, December 17, 2010

The unceasing call of Love - Part III

As I type this today, I look out the window to see my youngest daughter, Emily (12), playing outside in the snow.  She has created an imaginary world centered around our weeping willow tree in our front yard.  She plays out there every day after school for at least an hour.  I see her sitting on a branch, looking up at the tree and her mouth is moving.  She then runs around it, plops herself in the snow and looks up to the sky, mouth still moving.  I hope her weeping willow tree makes the clouds change shapes for her.  :)

At the time that this experience with the pastor occurred, I was 28 and he was 52.  Regardless of the age gap, I was still an adult.  Yet, because of the issues I was working through at the time, I had the mind and heart of a child.  I have not yet been able to reconcile this in my mind.  I should have known better.  Yet, I honestly didn't have a CLUE.

After I left that day, I drove home in kind of a numb silence.  (which I had gotten very good at doing).  I did not tell Jerry right away.  I didn't know WHAT to say.  I met with my therapist the following week and I did tell him.  But very matter of factly.  It did not hit me emotionally at all how so wrong it all was.  My therapist, however, took action immediately.  He made it very clear to me that I should tell Jerry and also that I was NOT to see the pastor alone again under any circumstances. He also filed what's called a "vulnerable adult" report with the state we live in.  I remember, even then,  feeling like this therapist, whom I had grown to trust, was just being paranoid and going overboard.

That night I told Jerry.  To say he was devastated was an understatement.  It took him no time at all to feel the full force of the betrayal.  A man he had trusted to care for his wife during times he could not be there himself, left him feeling very betrayed. What I didn't appreciate enough back then but I came to appreciate immensely over time is how not ONCE did he ever blame me or question my actions. ((((Jerry))))).  We immediately stopped going to the church and Jerry sent a letter of resignation to the church board.  When I wasn't showing up for our "meetings", pastor would call inquiring about me.  Jerry would answer the phone and made it very clear to him that he was not to call our home ever again.  The pastor was "surprised" by this and didn't understand why Jerry would say this, and even after Jerry confronted him, he acted as if it was all just a "huge misunderstanding."

Our friends would call asking why we weren't there.  We didn't feel it would be right to "plant the seed of secrecy" in them as we knew how that could spread and infect a church.  Because we couldn't explain, one by one, our friends dropped away.  I cannot tell you what a loss this was to lose such a large part of our life as this church was for us in such a short amount of time.  And it is the reason that we never got to finish the last mural of Noah's Ark in the nursery.  We left our paints, projector machine and all our other supplies there.  We did find out later that some of the other church members got together and finished the Noah wall for us.  (tears).......

Ironically, this did not cause me any kind of set back but I think it's because I blocked feeling the full truth of what had happened from myself for a long time.  At this point, Jerry's son whom we had gotten custody of had gone back to live with his mom so there was no "reason" to find a new Nazarene church, or any church for that matter. 

About a year and a half later, I was contacted by a district "deacon" (not sure of the terminology) of the Nazarene church inquiring about my interactions with this pastor (he had seen the vulnerable adult report filed by my therapist).  He stated that this pastor had not stayed at the church much longer after we had left due to "financial embezzlement suspicions" and had been reassigned to a church out east.  He also left there under questionable circumstances and was now pastoring in a church in the south.  There was a female member of that church who was filing charges against him for "inappropriate conduct" and he wanted me to give a deposition of my experiences so that he could help assist her in her case.  He made it clear to me that although the "typical" way to handle things was to "shuffle a pastor along" to a new congregation, he was not going to let that happen in this case.  But even after all the depositions, meeting with the church's lawyers etc. the whole thing just fizzled at some point and we never did know why.  To this day, I have no idea where he is or if he is still pastoring.  He would be 67 now.

By this time, I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter Emily and we were thick into getting things in place to move from the "big city" out into the country. We wanted a fresh start, away from the days of hospitals and the church and to raise our children in more of a "Mayberry" sort of place.  We managed to accomplish this by Oct. 98, 1 1/2 months prior to Emily being born. (whew!  That year of 98 is a whole nother story as well. :)  )

Once we moved, Jerry felt led to find a new church.  I, did not.  I had come to the place where I was finally VERY (and I mean VERY) angry about what had happened.  I openly declared that I wanted NOTHING to do with church, pastors or Christianity EVER again.  Although Jerry shared my anger, he tried to convince me that it was best for the girls if we continue to provide them exposure to the Word through Sunday school etc.  I told him he was more than welcome to find that for himself and the girls but that I would most decidedly not be joining him.  So for the first 3 years or so after Emily was born, Jerry and the girls would go to church and I would stay home.  Eventually, Jerry stopped going as well because a couple not united in God tends to fall away from God.

 In the beginning, Jerry told me that the church he had found had a pastor that he really liked and that this pastor really wanted to talk to me about what had happened. I don't know how that pastor got me to agree to it, but he began coming out to our home once a week to talk with me.  When he came, we would sit at our kitchen table, his bible open on the table between us and he would just listen while I vented my anger at God, pastors, church and Christianity.  He didn't judge me, correct me or interject at all.  He would patiently listen and simply wait until I asked a question (which was rare because I certainly thought I had all the answers at that point) and then he would turn to his bible and find scripture that related to my question.  Each time, I would blow off his answer because I did not consider the bible any kind of authority in my life anymore.  I don't remember how long he came to visit me, but I know I gave that poor man a very hard time (smile) and at some point, I just asked him to stop coming, and he did. Not long after, he was reassigned to a new church up north and we never saw him again.  (a couple of weeks ago, I was able to locate this pastor and called him to tell him of what had happened with me and how much I appreciated what he had done for me).

But something stood out to me that I admitted to no one but Jerry.  In ALL of the time I had met with that other horrible pastor, I realized that not ONCE was his bible ever present.  I came to understand that it was not God or Christianity that had betrayed me.  It was one man who did.  However, my heart was so hard by this point that it was not enough to get me to re-engage with Christianity or the church.

 So while Jerry and the girls continued to attend church, I decided that I would find God in my OWN way.  I began delving into other religions, eastern thought, native american spirituality,  and anything else I could find.  One day, I was in a bookstore and ran across a book called "Conversations with God." The author claimed to have a divine connection directly with God who began to have a conversation with him.   One of the things he wrote was that God said "there is no eternal hell.  Only the one that people make for themselves through their own minds."  I read that and shouted a grand Hallelujah and felt my heart open wide.  No hell?   I knew it!!!   Daggone those church ladies and their fear tactics!!!  Daggone Christianity and their fear based teachings and archaic thinking!   Now I was ready to discover the "real God within" and my "itching ears" were ready to listen to everything and anything that told me who/what that was.

The unceasing call of Love - Part 4 

1 comment:

  1. This is all so fascinating. I never would have believed this if it didn't come straight from you.