This post is mostly for those who might be curious about how I got to this point in my life of not working with my denomination. Primarily, the move happened because I wanted the second half of my life to be under God’s control and not the control of men. I wanted to get to know God for myself and have the freedom to obey, teach and do what he was imparting to me. Under the current system in our church, that would be impossible. I was not willing to live my one life under the ownership of anyone and least of all leaders that were simply trying to hold the status quo together for their various personal reasons and no longer interested in spiritual growth. It’s a true saying that you cannot rise above your teachings.
The list I’m going to share on my next post is from years of personal bible study and prayer. Many of these things I was fearful of contemplating even though it is basic bible knowledge. In our cult-like group, those simple scriptures that I will be sharing had been twisted to mean something else. People often place personal opinions next to the Word of God as if they are equal to God. They refuse to subject themselves to the Word. If it conflicts with their denomination’s teaching, they just explain it away. To get the wrong teaching out of your head and spirit is difficult, but as I studied, there it was–the truth of these scriptures right in front of me in black and white. I had been staring at these things for years but refused to embrace what I saw because it didn’t match with my church’s teaching. Can you imagine, ignoring the words of Jesus so it fits in with your church’s dogma? That’s terrible, but that’s exactly what happened for years.
There’s anguish in leaving things I had believed my entire spiritual life. Although I loved my religious group overall, it was sapping me spiritually to continue to see the group’s decline and lack of spiritual accountability and additionally, being able to do nothing about it. It was stressful. It was distracting and debilitating. God knew I just couldn’t support it any longer. God has given my husband and me a ministry, we are still saved but it was very clear that we could not prosper and continue our ministries there. There’s so much we didn’t see for years about the cult behavior of our group. It’s like when you become used to something and for whatever reason, it becomes comfortable and normal, but it’s not normal at all. You brush aside the abnormalities because you want to stay in this thing that’s always been a part of your life, knowing that it’s not serving you or your family well. It’s like staying in a bad neighborhood just because you know where all the stores are and can name all your neighbors. My husband is a great teacher but for years he was not allowed to move forward. I noticed the same with other talented people. You simply accept it because you’ve lived your life this way. But the fruit of your life and the imbalance in your life tells you something’s wrong. My husband grew up in this religion with questions but just accepted it.
My therapist tells me I’m extremely brave. I don’t feel that as much I feel good about being able to be me, the way God intended.
I remember the Lord asking me a question: “Do you need their approval to do the work of God”? I thought about that. The answer was no. No one needs the approval of men to do God’s work. I was very aware, having been in the organization, the disconnect that would happen with the people. I was aware of the suspicion that would develop and the false stories that would be floated and the worst part, being labeled as not saved. It is a systemic problem, not a personal one. I was giving up 35 years of reputation, and I had a good one with them. But this thought came to me as well: “If not one person that you knew came to your funeral or celebrated your achievements but you obeyed me (God) and did my will, what’s more important”. My answer 9: “to do the will of God”. I dropped my head because I knew that it would cost me dearly. But it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
My eye was on having one life to live, and contemplating whether Jesus wanted me to spend my energy in one of their local congregations. I didn’t want to just be a church member. I had more to offer the Kingdom. Plus, God had given me and my husband a scripture to “continue” our ministry.
I am praying about my next steps, but I had to get me fixed first. Someone asked me if my leaving was divisive. Not in the least bit. In fact, we tried our best to make it as smooth and quiet as possible. The Pastor gave us space to express our love to the congregation. I knew that once we were out, there would be the “cut off” anyway. The Pastor encouraged us to burn our bridges, with the idea that we would not be coming back. I’m not sure how he meant that but it’s OK. I harbor no grudges but I also wanted to, for once, tell it like it is. I have no agenda but to finally tell the truth about what I experienced. I had to keep so many secrets for years.
When I joined them, I was 19, inexperienced with religion and the dangers involved with hooking up with independent groups. I didn’t even know how to defend myself in a religious environment that was not serving my life very well. Like most young people I was looking for purpose. I was sincere and wanted to do everything that they said to stay saved even if I didn’t agree with it or fully understand it. I clung to the Lord through all the dislike, hatred, false brethren, political games and jealousy I encountered (something you could encounter anywhere). Whenever I felt like I was wasting my time, God would remind me that I had sat at his feet like Mary and those efforts to help women and children in our church, to better the ministry and teach his word would not be forgotten by Him.
I think my husband and I are finally in the place God wants us to be. Free to focus on Christ as he leads.
I love this quote from Mother Teresa and it helps me daily keep a good attitude while going through this world.
“People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; It was never between you and them anyway.”–Mother Teresa
Stay tuned for -Reasons I Moved On.Part 2