Why I Do What I Do

I don’t at this time want to divulge all the abuses that has happened to me in the church from the hands of its leaders and members. For many reasons. One is that those experiences carry a significance for me that is sacred. To tell you about them diminishes their gravity. Perhaps one day. But another reason is that I don’t know how to do it in ways that wouldn’t inflict the same harm upon the perpetrators. They are still within the church, the same universal tribe I am still a part of, and to broadcast my experiences could become a form of vengeance I am not willing to exact. Perhaps one day, when all the poison has been lanced, I will be able to tell you my stories completely free of malice.

So on the one hand I am vague. I don’t name names unless I am sure I am not harming someone, even if you might think they deserve it. Because I have experienced it in full measure first hand, I am extremely sensitive to abuse within religious structures and organizations. This is why, on the other hand, I am considered ruthless in my critique of the principalities and the powers. Because they can be abusive in such subtle, illusive and even unconscious ways, I seem unforgiving in my analysis of the church, religion and spirituality. I and my family have been tortured by very well-meaning and sincere Christians who still don’t comprehend the wounds they have inflicted. But it is because I believe in people, their well-being, rights and freedoms that I do what I do.

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • fishon

    What about the innocent you just cast a cloud over?
    fishon

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    fishon: What?

  • Bruce Campbell

    Pastor David, thank you for your unique insights. While my “church hurts” are not as deep as yours, I understand where you are coming from. As a musician, I’ve been mis-understood for the length of my hair, the music I play & listen to, even the way I pray (eyes open looking up {towards heaven?} and hands open). I just wonder if my Jesus showed up in my church, would be welcomed?

    Peace,
    B

  • fishon

    If you can’t figure that out, nothing I say will help.
    fishon

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Well, thanks for being vague fishon, and then for making it vaguer. For some reason (you or me) I don’t understand what you mean by what you said. I’m simply asking for an explanation. We all know the uselessness of saying, “If you don’t know then I’m not going to tell you” argument. Give me another shot!

  • shellie

    it looks like fishon doesn’t understand your wounds from the church/religion and that maybe fishon doesn’t have any hurts from the church/religion, so it’s it looks like you might be “raining on fishon’s parade?” (hence the cloud reference) and that they want to think certain things and don’t want to hear what you have to say, if perceived as negative. just a guess. i’m a wanna be blogger analyst. hahaha. thank you for speaking the truth about you! i find it refreshing that things aren’t glossed over. whether i like it or not. keep writing and drawing and creating please!

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    shellie: i don’t think that’s it because fishon has shared his own trials at the church’s hands.

  • Lynn Hopkins

    My church injuries were entirely unintentional, and usually not even personal; I was simply devalued or damned or excluded or invisible because I was one of those ‘people like me’ rather than directly.
    I survived some anguished moments — and walked many long years — precisely because the institution that despised me included people who embraced me and were unafraid to call out its institutional sins even at their own peril.
    Your capacity and willingness to illuminate its-their-our failings is what allows me to continue to love Christians though I cannot be one, and to love the church even while it despises me.
    For me, nakedpastor is an icon of the church’s hope for ultimate salvation/reconciliation. Yes, I know how over-the-top it sounds, but after staring at it for a few minutes, I find it’s the only way to say what I mean.

  • fishon

    shellie

    February 26, 2010 at 5:57 pm .it looks like fishon doesn’t understand your wounds from the church/religion and that maybe fishon doesn’t have any hurts from the church/religion, so it’s it looks like you might be “raining on fishon’s parade?”
    ——-Oh, I could tell you bloody stories.
    I heard exactly what he said, and understand it.
    You may need to practice on your analyst gift.
    fishon

  • fishon

    “I don’t at this time want to divulge all the abuses that has happened to me in the church from the hands of its leaders and members. ”
    ——Speak of being vague.
    fishon

  • shellie

    i don’t have an analyst gift, as you can see! fishon, i just wish you’d give a try and explain yourself. if you don’t, the dummies like me have to guess! and see what happens? all hell breaks loose!

  • shellie

    i stepped into something, i feel, that isn’t for all, but between you two. didn’t realize.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    fishon: please explain what you meant. i’m in the dark.

  • http://writerquake.blogspot.com Lydia

    The way I read Fishon’s first statement was that by your saying this:
    They are still within the church, the same universal tribe I am still a part of, and to broadcast my experiences could become a form of vengeance I am not willing to exact…
    some people with persecution complexes might think that others think it is them you are talking about. It’s a childish kind of thing, born of worrying more what others might erroneously think of you than of worrying about the actions of those this is really all about. Also, if one is squirming in their seat thinking, “Well, I hope people don’t think he’s talking about me” it may be because they are complicit–at least in a secret part of their heart.

    Did I get it? Probably not.

    Gads, your description of these people is exactly why I turned against being a Christian, against being a member of any group that is sure it has all the answers…

  • Jen Eaby

    Did you listen to Steve Brown’s podcast today? Made me think about your fundamentalist post and your comment on this post about being careful to not speak with malice towards those who have hurt you. If you haven’t, it’s worth a listen. For what it’s worth, for all the vitriol that comes your way, there are many more of us who appreciate your honesty (sometimes the truth hurts and sometimes we are just plain blind to it). Don’t stop. The church needs you. We need you.

  • Heather C.

    I hope the poison drains away sooner rather than later, Dave. Lacking any other profundity beyond that, despite my wish to possess all the right words to make it better….

  • Valentine

    why you do what you do? I don’t know… but everything you do has consequences…

  • Rachel Frank

    I can very much relate to your post, David. I am an ordained minister in the Alliance of Baptists, but I had to go through a whole lot of inner battles to get here. I was hurt tremendously by the church in which I was raised, and as I journeyed toward getting an Master of Divinity and toward ordination, the thirteen-year-old girl who still lives inside of me RAGED against it. “You’re becoming one of THEM,” she shouted. I tried to silence her, and I wasn’t nice about it. She raged even stronger. “I will NOT shut up,” she yelled. It took a little while for me to realize that trying to silence her was exactly what “those people” she thought I was becoming tried to do to her. They told her that girls were not of as much value to God as boys (not using those exact words, but it was still the message). They told her that women ought to submit to men…that children ought to be seen and not heard…that God would NEVER call a woman to ministry.

    The people of this congregation were only concerned with making sure church members complied with their legalistic understanding of what it meant to be a Christian, keeping people in the pews with threats of hell and damnation. They were not concerned with caring for “the least of these” or with identifying or combating systems of oppression in the world. Because of these things, and because of the way this church constantly looked inward only rather than how it could make a difference in the world, I saw the church as irrelevant.

    I was also taught that I must accept everything I was told, particularly that there was some indeterminate divine will for my life and for the world, despite the fact that I saw terrible things happening all around me. I was supposed to simply smile and know that Jesus loved me. I believed that this was how all Christians were and that it was what Christianity was about. I also knew that if this truly was what it meant to be a Christian, that I would never be able to live up to it, nor did I want to. I was also uninterested in serving a God who was so angry and condemning and who would cast me into hell for having doubts. I was uninterested in serving a God who would disown a person because they didn’t believe the things that these people believed. This was why—even when I had been shown a different model of church when I was in college—I was so resistant to going into parish ministry.

    However, my understanding and perspective of what it means to be the Church and a follower of Christ began to change when I moved to Atlanta to attend seminary, and, subsequently, began attending the church at which I now serve as Assistant Minister. When I began attending this church and seminary, I began to hear and learn about Church as an inclusive and loving community that welcomed all people as children of God, whether gay or straight, black or white, male or female. I began to learn about Church as a community that was not only concerned about the well-being of itself, the size of its budget, or the number of members or of those in attendance on Sunday mornings. I began to learn about Church as a community who cared about the injustices and suffering in the world and sought to do something about it.

    Today, I see the purpose of the church in the world today as a body of people who seek to demonstrate God’s love by being instruments of justice, reconciliation, love, and peace in this hurting world. I believe that the church is called to have and to be a prophetic voice against all forms of injustice. Today, I believe that the church can be—is called to be—a source of change and of healing for those who gather within it and for the world. Now, as a minister, I feel called to empower people to do these things and to love each other and themselves. I really can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

    I’m sure you didn’t want/need to hear all of that, but I just wanted to let you know I relate very much to you.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Thanks for sharing your story Rachel.

  • fishon

    Lydia

    February 26, 2010 at 6:54 pm .The way I read Fishon’s first statement was that by your saying this:
    They are still within the church, the same universal tribe I am still a part of, and to broadcast my experiences could become a form of vengeance I am not willing to exact…
    some people with persecution complexes might think that others think it is them you are talking about. It’s a childish kind of thing, born of worrying more what others might erroneously think of you than of worrying about the actions of those this is really all about. Also, if one is squirming in their seat thinking, “Well, I hope people don’t think he’s talking about me” it may be because they are complicit–at least in a secret part of their heart.

    Did I get it? Probably not.
    ——-Well now—you are pretty darn close, Lydia. David has case spears at some in ‘his’ tribe, but out of ??? he won’t name names. So the innocent certainly can be under suspicion. Now I am not a part of his tribe, and really know nothing of them, but he has pulled the old “I got a secret, but I can’t tell you,” thing on them.

    NP:I don’t at this time want to divulge all the abuses that has happened to me in the church from the hands of its LEADERS AND MEMBERS [caps mine].

    NP:But another reason is that I don’t know how to do it in ways that wouldn’t inflict the same harm upon the perpetrators. They are still within the church, the same universal tribe I am still a part of, and to broadcast my experiences could become a form of vengeance I am not willing to exact.
    —–Form of vengeance—hehehe! He has cast suspicion on his whole tribe. Kind of like a Murder She Wrote plot: “One of you in this room is a thief.” Then all hell breaks loose. You can call it a “persecution complexes,” but it is real in a roomful of innocents, with one thief among them.
    —–Oh well, I certainly do not expect anyone to agree with me–but NP has done a disservice to his tribe, at least to the innocent—and the butchers, they are still getting their jollies.
    fishon

  • http://longehawaii.blogspot.com/2007/03/cult-of-ywam-honolulu.html Joey

    I so appreciate your cartoons and spiritual insight Pastor David. It gets people talking about the elephant in the room, which is a good thing. For years, when I suffered spiritual abuse in YWAM Honolulu, I wondered what was wrong with me. When you are in the midst of an abusive organization or relationship, it is usually not nearly as clear as after you have stepped back from it for a few months. I have been out of YWAM for about 14 years but still have reoccurring nightmares that I am back in the organization and under their control. What helped to make them less frequent and less emotionally nauseating when I do have them is when I started a blog about my experience to share with the world (mostly for my sake) what I and others had gone through. I have never named names, as that was not the purpose, but those who were there at the time I was will know of whom I speak. Just last week, I spoke with a woman I was in YWAM with at the same time and I had not spoken to for at least 5 years. Before I told her about my nightmares of being back in YWAM, she told me she had similar nightmares. Thank you so much for talking about it David & not giving up on God who had nothing to do with the abuse.

  • Julia

    Fishon: You say yes, I say no,
    you say stop and I say go, go, go.
    I say good-bye and you say hello.

    David: I say high, you say low,
    you say why and I say I don’t know, oh no.
    You say good-bye and I say hello….

  • fishon

    sing it girl, sing it. you sound good.
    fishon

  • thebutler

    When you’re hurt and you need love, going on the defensive isn’t a good way of finding that love…

    Thanks David for sharing with us your reason for not divulging certain facts and details. It certainly helps me understand where you’re coming from better.

  • Lynn123

    np,

    I see nothing wrong with saying “I’ve been very hurt.”

    “It’s okay to say “ouch”-as my therapist once told me.

  • http://fb,blog sam scoville

    DAMNED – to be be damaged

    Damaged and damaging if I do;
    damaged and damaging if I don’t.
    I’m damaged and damaging,damnit

    Got a problem with that?

    We’re all damned for heavens sakes.
    This is mere description–not judgment.
    The denial and cover-up is what generates
    the psychic toxic waste and thickens my
    bozon layer.

    You can’t say this on Oprah-
    but call it wounded and vulnerable
    and she and Dr. Phill will roll their
    eyes and come up with some good words
    to help you heal.

  • http://fraizerbaz.blogspot.com/ Fraizerbaz

    I asked my seven year-old daughter the other night what she wants to be when she grows up. In the past, she’s answered with, a judge, and more recently, the President of the United States, to which I replied that it was perhaps the most difficult job there is. Of course, then I regretted my response because I never want to discourage her ambition.

    So, the other night her answer was that she wants to be a pastor. A pastor. I sat for a moment in silence, making a conscience effort not to say anything that might discourage.

    How should I have responded?

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Fraizerbaz: Good question. I’ve been faced with that very situation as well. We’ve always affirmed their own sense of direction and purpose. It is a wonder to watch it develop in their own unique ways. I’d say though that your child seems to desire to be involved in some kind of influential leadership role.

  • http://fabulousfrenzy.wordpress.com/ Amy

    I understood what Fishon was trying to say the moment I was done reading Fishon’s 1st comment. We are all going to hurt and get hurt in church, sometimes over and over again. I have bipolar disorder and when I went off of my meds for my pregnancy, I wigged out, caused a bunch of problems and the people that I had served with for 5 years treated me like I was the devil. I can’t even go shopping in the same town anymore. They don’t even want to see my face and they gang up on me with their hatred and disapproval of me. It is still very painfull, but I KNOW that God has a purpose for what happened to me and that he will use this pain for his glory somehow. My pastor of the church that I left in Nov wrote a blog about my husband and I without using our names. I knew it was about us the second that I read it and so did everyone else that reads his blog and is still in that church, which caused even more pain to come my way from that congregation. They are still throwing stones at me. Having this blog written about myself and my husband without our names was just as painfull and destructive to the rest of the body that we left behind. I just keep my head up, forgive, pray for those who slice and dice me, and keep moving on. My blog is not read by anyone I know personally and that is for a reason, so that I don’t hurt anyone else. My old church knows nothing about what I have suffered at their hands and it will remain that way as I will let God deal with it, and he will.

  • http://fabulousfrenzy.wordpress.com/ Amy

    P.S.,,,, I have been following your blog for quite some time and one thing I know for sure from reading it and following the art, is that you have been hurt, and hurt badly. We get it, really, we do. God allows us to get hurt and experience pain, question is, how are you going to use these painful experiences to BUILD the kingdom? Joey, what did God reveal to you about the time you spent being abused by your church? Do you really think that it was not in God’s plans for you to experience that? God has his hand in the bad times and the good. What happened to Jesus? Abuse, pain, heartache….. on and on..and on…..

  • http://souldipper.wordpress.com/ Amy MacLeod

    An annual stock-taking is critical to the survival of any entity: a human being, a retail store, any business, a family and any community. I’ve been saddened that Church and Government both think it is adequate to deal with financial inventories…two of the biggest businesses in our lives! There is no sincere inventory about the soul aspect of either’s actions! There sure as hell is when I do my personal inventory! And I do mine daily so I can sleep well.

    After enduring many church council meetings and Gov’t board meetings,I know the consequences of speaking the truth – even doing it with great care! Discussions go around and around until there’s a palatable solution for solving the symptom.

    The problem lives on because people lack the courage to show up at the temple and TURN OVER THE TABLES.

    Regarding our NP: It is my perception that, in the midst of dealing with the hurts, there still exists in our courageous author’s soul, respect and decency regarding the abuser’s privacy. And that is his choice at the moment.

    A psychologist told a friend that until she got angry, she would not be able to deal with the affects of the abuse. She was trying to be Christian.

    Funny how society accepts that we protect the abuser. Funny how we overlook the positive aspects of anger.

    And Fishon – abuse takes many forms. Not saying what you mean and meaning what you say is one of them. Don’t be a coward.

  • http://longehawaii.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2007-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2008-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=11 Joey

    Amy, First of all you can read of my experience on my blog by clicking on my name (most of the entries are from 2007). I have often asked God, “why”, with no clear answer. I realize we are ALL damaged people and that most often, those who abuse are insecure. It is a power trip. I know that those who “have it all together” in the church are merely better at wearing their masks. As in being in God’s plan, I do not believe it is “God’s plan” that people are abused, but know He can work in our lives in SPITE of the evil free-will inflicted by others on us. When you hear of wives & children beaten by husbands & fathers, that is NOT God’s plan, though He has the fore-knowledge and could have prevented it. As for Jesus’ pain & abuse I certainly am grateful and appreciate what He did for us when He would have not had to. This knowledge does not deaden the pain of the abuse I experienced for years though.

  • Lynn123

    I feel like I walked into a private family quarrel, cause I have no idea what people are referring to. But I like what was said above about expressing anger, at least in private.

    I also can relate to feeling abused but not wanting to suffer the consequences of openly rejecting it. The price-the rejection and non-understanding from the abuser-seemed too high a price to pay. I don’t know. Therapy helped a lot, and certainly I played a big role in things being bad myself.

    As for a church situation, maybe there’s something to be said for those who don’t over-analyze the consequences. They just say their piece-put it out there-and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe that’s how non-controlling people do it.

    I’m a very controlling person-always managing situations to keep the peace. I wish I weren’t like that. It’s a huge load to put on yourself.

  • Lynn123

    I think part of it can be, also, that we want to look like the good guy, the victim. If we get open about things, someone else will say WE were the bad guy. We’ll be out there in the mud with everybody, and we can’t control what anybody thinks or whose side they take or if they understand how hurt we were. The other side might describe the problem in a whole different way that we don’t even recognize.

    Maybe we need to realize none of that is going to kill us, actually, and we’ll feel so much better just being ourself and being honest.

    One HUGE weight for me as a Christian was trying to handle stuff the Christian way. Do I want to be a decent person in my own eyes? Yes. Do I want to be a Saint? No. Let the saints try to pull that off. I won’t try anymore. Now I just get to be a human being-a stinker like EVERYBODY else is.

    Oh, and I don’t have to make the church, or a church, or Christianity always look good at any price.

  • http://fabulousfrenzy.wordpress.com/ Amy

    Joey, I was abused sexually, physically, and emotionally by a man who was in a fire via a car accident when he was 19 years old. The fire burned 80% of his body, he was blind for years, in a coma for a year (due to the horrific pain) had pins and rods through out his body, his intestines were laying next to him because the he was sitting next to the gas tank and it exploded and blew a hole in his stomach. He had new eye lids, ears lobes, everything, there wasn’t enough skin on him to graph anywhere else so they used pig skin to reconstruct him and the process took years with many surgeries He did not look like a human being and he was ANGRY AT THE WORLD and wanted to take it out on a young girl, me. I met him when I was 10 years old and he was about 28 and was resuced from him when I was 15 right before he nearly killed me and honestly it is a miracle that I am alive today. He had already commited murder. He beat me, I was unable to attend school due to the way I looked, tourtured animals to death infront of me, keept me locked in a room for several months at a time and sexually abused me for 5 years. And guess what? If it had not been for all of that, which God allowed to happen, I would not be me. I would endure that all again to me, right now as I am typing, to be me, as I am now, today. It was part of God’s path for me. I would not love as deeply or be the creative artist that I am, I just would not be me. I found him 17 years later, he had been in hiding, I told him I forgave him and the miracle of all was how much he needed my forgiveness. It was one of the most amazing phone calls of my life. My story helps many victims of abuse, God has used that part of my life in ways that I could have never imagined. Unforgivness and bitterness only destroys the container that it is in. Hating him cost me dearly and almost destroyed me, forgiving him and showing him compassion set me free. The most infulential people in the world are those who have suffered and been hurt a great deal, not those who grew up with a rosey life. What matters is what you do with it. That’s my story in short form, I don’t blog about it.

  • http://longehawaii.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2007-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2008-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=11 Joey

    Amy,

    I am not sure why you directed your comments specifically at me. What this man and you suffered were horrific. We all deal with events, abuse and illness in our lives as individuals and personally. I do not know if you read my blog or not, but one of my big points in it was FORGIVENESS. We need to forgive the abusers for OURSELVES more than for them. (Forgiveness does NOT equal restored relationship with people who are not repentant or untrustworthy.) If we do not forgive, we still give them power over us. This does not diminish what was done in any way. I have had to release forgiveness to the abusers (who have shown no remorse) many times, sometimes more than once a day. It is okay to hate what was done to us, but not to hate the abuser. I have always been amazed at how different people can react to abuse & tragedy in their lives. I have a dear friend in Australia who was raped repeatedly by her own father when she was a small child until the blood ran down her legs. This woman is full of joy & life. You would NEVER suspect she’d had been so abused. There are others who respond to abuse with anger, hatred and bitterness in life. We deal with life in our own way & with the personality God has given us. I continue to forgive so I do not end up angry & bitter. I started the healing process when I did start to blog about it. I did it more for self-therapy than for others. This is one reason I did not name names as to who the abusers were. We will NEVER be totally healed this side of Glory! I am now battling cancer which I truly believe was at least in part as a result of holding in my emotions for so many years while in this hideous religious organization. Again, God allowed the cancer, but I pray he can use it for His glory. When I have been sitting in the waiting room waiting for my turn to get radiation, I have used that time to pray for the other patients around me. It is easy to read a few paragraphs from a person you do not know, size up and judge them. I hope that this is not the case with you, but if it is, it may be revealing to you just how much more healing you need. As I said in my blog, a shrink I was seeing said that what I went through on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst, was a 12! Another friend, who is also a priest told me I will probably always suffer from these re-occurring nightmares because of the impact it had on my life & how long it continued.

  • http://freedompastor.blogspot.com Frank Emanuel

    I’m struggling with this too. Part of the problem is that I tend to be a bit too transparent on my facebook status – but have found it is a wonderful way to solicit prayer. I try not to name names, but those people who know me wouldn’t have too much trouble figuring it out. Today has been a very hard day, I would even call it abusive but a part of me (I think a sick part) says you are a pastor and should take this kind of abuse. I’ll work it through, but it isn’t easy.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Frank: Sorry you’ve had a rough one. Can I please clarify that the abuse I’ve suffered hasn’t always been in the role of a pastor. Mostly as a dissenter. Mostly as someone who was different. Someone who disagreed. Etcetera. Plus, I don’t think that as a pastor that means you should take abuse. Just thinking out loud-ish.

  • Valentine

    Fraizerbaz : I wonder why you ask that question in here…
    What I see this blog is a confusing place, because the owner is in confusion.You will not meet the answer here. But ask God you will find the answer, even for every question.

    your seven year-old daughter is still 7. she keeps growing up as everything keeps changing.

    Just don’t ever discourage our kids, but pray for them, teach them and let them learn even from mistakes. And Surrender our kids too God, Trust God to take care our kids, they will be fine and safe.

  • http://fabulousfrenzy.wordpress.com/ Amy

    Joey, I read your comment and asked you a question, you answered me, and I replied, sort of like if we were sitting in a circle and chatting, I would have asked the same question or made the same point, or just started a conversation. Is this not acceptable in blog world? I am in therapy, thanks, from church pain, not my past. Yes everyone deals with abuse differently. My mom just battled and won over cancer, it was quite the experience to witness and I pray it all goes well for you. As far sizing you up and judging you? I just asked you two questions, neither of which you answered, but thanks for hoping I wasn’t judging you and saying if I was I still need healing. LOL! That cracks me up. I guess I just don’t agree with the thought of God having nothing to do with abuse, must he if he allowed it? He was there, wasn’t he? How does he use pain and suffering for his glory if he had nothing to do with it? God allowed Job to really suffer some abuse. I guess the question is, if God allows abuse, isn’t he involved?

    N.P. I also suffer because I am different, I ask questions that people don’t want to ask, or I just plain disagree, and I am quite challenging and I don’t like to conform, so I feel you on your last comment. I was very close to my last pastor and the congregation, and I beleive that he was a target of much due to a huge lack of understanding on the part of the congregation as to his calling. The role of pastor is a very misunderstood one. No one should TAKE abuse, pastor or not.

    I think that being hurt in the church is a very deep wound, but it’s going to happen. Satin spends a lot of time causing division in church, it’s actually where he does his best work, in church, and sometimes I think we let him.

  • http://freedompastor.blogspot.com Frank Emanuel

    NP I’ve experienced both as well. One of the most painful was a pastor I’ve known for years who disagreed with where I was studying (Roman Catholic university) and so wrote me off with a pretty blunt letter. Sometimes I just don’t get it. Christians can be so incredibly insensitive and self-absorbed. But then again I probably fit that bill too. And when you push back against those that continually demand of you – well it isn’t hard to feel like a failure. It also doesn’t help when in their hurt they turn around and tell you the very things you are afraid you’ll feel about yourself.

    Not fun.

    But on the other hand I am the one who says Christianity isn’t about being comfortable. Part of why I didn’t push back sooner is because it would have made me uncomfortable. So in the end I let things fester until there was no choice but to make a hard boundary and face the crap storm that resulted.

    My wife is amazing. I have called her at work probably six times today. At one point she just interrupted with an assurance that she likes me. She has good timing.

    OK, now I definitely need to get back to work.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Ya, your pain sounds real and understandable. I’m thankful for a wife who likes me too.

  • Kevin

    Please keep doing what you’re doing. I came across your site while going through a very dark time in my life as a result of just the subtle but insanely destructive abuse you’re talking about. There has been redemption in seeing that I’m not alone and that there is someone willing to talk about these things openly but with with grace.

    THANK YOU!

  • thebutler

    Having suffered manipulation and some emotional abuse in churches, which I was partly open to because of growing up with an alcoholic father and manipulative mother, I have had to work through a lot and it has been, and often still is, confusing.

    I realised only last week how bad church of the past still influences my thought processes and how I view faith and issues to do with church and society (etc.).

    I try to keep an open mind but my thinking still turns out coloured by my bad experiences. It’s a lot better, but it’s still there.

    Listening to others who have has been necessary and beneficial to me, listening to those who are hurt helps them and teaches me.

    Doing this you end up hearing from people who are hurt and just need to talk and also those who can’t stop manipulating others with criticism and vagueness and you’ll have
    to discern between these and sometimes refuse a continuation of the cycle or self pitying bitterness.

    Love, unconditional and unprejudiced, is an antidote. Love will listen and not judge.

  • thebutler

    I meant:

    Listening to others who have been hurt has been necessary and beneficial to me, listening to those who are hurt helps them and teaches me.

    And:

    Doing this you end up hearing from people who are hurt and just need to talk and also those who can’t stop manipulating others with criticism and vagueness and you’ll have
    to discern between these and sometimes refuse a continuation of the cycle and self pitying bitterness.

  • http://fb,blog sam scoville

    DAMNED – to be be damaged

    Damaged and damaging if I do;
    damaged and damaging if I don’t.
    I’m damaged and damaging,damnit

    Got a problem with that?

    We’re all damned for heavens sakes.
    This is mere description–not judgment.
    The denial and cover-up is what generates
    the psychic toxic waste and thickens my
    bozon layer.

    You can’t say this on Oprah-
    but call it wounded and vulnerable
    and she and Dr. Phill will roll their
    eyes and come up with some good words
    to help you heal.

  • http://www.justsaytheword.wordpress.com nAncY

    note:
    i did not read through all of the comments that came before mine.
    i started to. then started to forget what the post was about.

    anyway:
    just to say, though i don’t understand the post in my head, i think i might understand it in my heart.

    i am a believer of Jesus as the Christ, Son of God.
    i am very wary of the words Christian and Church.
    i consider myself part of a connection with other believers through the Holy Spirit.

    i am flawed, broken, hurt others, sometimes mean, selfish, sometimes kind, and loving.

    the church is made up of people that have been just like me over many many years. i see how we are broken and sinful, and i see how we have the chance to forgive others and be forgiven by God.

    i also know that no one can take God from me, except for me or God. and the Father has made a way for me in the Love of Jesus the Christ. a chance to learn what faith, hope and Love mean in this life that i have been given.

    the Holy Spirit will lead me through this valley of death, this life of sin, Jesus is with me.

    my relationship with God, in Spirit and truth, is mine to have. it is my choice, responsibility, joy, and truth. it is not for anyone else to to take of take care of. no one can separate me from the Love of God in Jesus. nothing can take that from me…i can only not accept it, cut myself off from it.

    in haste, uncaring, holding onto anger, in unforgiveness, in not seeing myself as i am, i can be led to cutting myself off to the Love that i can have in Jesus. to not believe and have faith in the one that gives that spiritual Love, because of some people being mean and sinful, is like not eating any food for my physical body because some of it has tasted really bad to me at times. we are are all rotting, angry, ugly, and mean…but, there is faith, hope and Love for each of us.

    take it or leave it.

    sitting on the fence will just make your butt hurt.

    i don’t know about anyone else, but when my butt hurts, i start to complain.

  • http://samscoville.blogspot.com/ sam scoville

    “School” in Europe
    is called gymnasium:
    “naked training.”

    The word “apology”
    as well as “apocalypse”
    both originally indicate
    opening, exposing:
    a showing.

    It’s not obvious
    how and when exposure
    is good, which is maybe
    why “I’m sorry, so sorry”
    has become the popular
    sense of “apology”–
    rather than its original
    sense of revelation:
    see me,
    hear me,
    touch me,
    feed me…

  • Darrin

    Do you ever get the feeling that being in a relationship with the church….(the Christian community, faith community, evangelical world..or whatever you choose to call it) as a pastor OR a member is a lot like being in a relationship with an abusive batterer? An emotional and verbal abuser?

    Abusers follow the pattern of 1. idealize you (spoil you treat you well and think you can do everything), 2. Resent you, 3. Devalue you (you aren’t so good after all),
    4. Withdraw and withhold, punish, abuse, blame and mind-f$#% you (or beat you,), followed by 5. apologize and ask you to stay. The whole process then repeats itself.

    There must be something serial in nature with our brand of the faith community that cannot seem to help itself. Pastor and member alike seem to get churned through this meat grinder. I am starting to notice a growing number of people (clergy AND lay) opting to keep personal faith but walk apart from the church and it’s social life. I remember a time when in staff or ministerial meetings it was customary to refer to these people who leave as crackpots or church hoppers. While that group is still doing that, it seems that a growing number if quality and serious people are choosing to walk apart as well.

  • http://www.lelightclub.com Louise la francofun!

    BAD FAITH BLUES | lyrics/music Louise Guay March 1, 2010 (c)

    You tell me you got the truth
    and nothing but the truth
    Eye for eye and tooth for tooth
    Oh you can be quite uncouth

    You love telling me I’m wrong
    You prod me with a prong
    You think you know where I belong
    You think your religion is so strong

    But you got bad faith baby
    You don’t have an ounce of mercy
    Oh you got bad faith baby
    and you’re scaring the hell out of me

    Now Cain thought he was able
    To do better than his brother Abel
    When G-d refused his offering
    He decided to make a killing

    Oh you sure talk the talk
    But you ain’t got the walk
    Your lack of grace, makes you red in the face
    I think you may just lose the race

    And you got bad faith baby
    No, you don’t have an ounce of mercy
    Oh you got bad faith baby
    and you’re scaring the hell out of me

    You want me to see the light
    You want me to say you’re right
    You sure love a good fight
    Yeah you think you and G-d are tight

    But I see your desperation
    Your lust for vindication
    Your fear of ultimate rejection
    Can’t you see, your own need for redemption

    And you got bad faith baby
    No, you don’t have an ounce of mercy
    Oh you got bad faith baby
    and you’re scaring the hell out of me

    Inspiration arose as I read discussions on NP’s blog… definitely NOT aimed at NP but at all the Cains who would want to hurt Abels… we are our brothers’ keepers… we may give different offerings… but we shouldn’t compare ourselves with others or be jealous when G-d shows favor to a brother or sister… rather we should rejoice with them… not try to kill them with our words or attitudes… bonne journée!

  • http://www.crackedvirtue.com Brianmpei

    I’m all for naming names as long as we’re talking with people who can actually help. Keeping secrets doesn’t make us healthier people or holier people. I’m pretty sure honesty will turn out to be a Kingdom value.

  • John

    The problem with dealing with hurt from those who still live is that first, we want them to know and understand the pain they have inflicted. I think it’s partially because their ability to hurt stems from our vulnerability to that person in the first place; a trust has been abused. Second, we want that bridge repaired, we want that person to love us, and we hope in their knowing what damage they’ve done they will be repentant and love us again.

    The sad and disturbing fact is that often none of those things matter to the inflictor, for a great number of reasons. Sometimes there is healing, but not before the great challenge has to be lived out of being hurt every time you think about being hurt and the disregard the hurter has about hurting…..often, they are unaware completely of what they’ve done, but there’s no room for a safe discussion about it all.

    I’ve never reconciled all this in my head or heart…..my experience tells me that like Fishon may have alluded to, and I’m sure he’ll correct me if I’m wrong, we do set a spiritual pall over the head/hear/mind of the inflictors, because the trouble we’re having, I believe, is about forgiveness. How can you forgive when the hurt is happening as we speak, everyday and ongoing? That’s the challenge. And whether we know it or not, the other is hurt bu our hearts toward them too, and I’m quite sure they don’t know why they “feel” something, nor can we describe it or identify it. It’s one of the rules of the Spirit.

    The picture I have is of Prometheus being punished by the Olympic gods by being eaten alive by birds during the day, but his body healing every night so that every day he lives the torture afresh, over and over and over. As Christians, we have to love the bird and the gods through forgiveness. But then who said it would be easy?

  • Darrin

    Good post John. And very true. Often the fact that the hurt is ongoing is minimized in the Christian circles we exist in or frequent.

    The other thing is even though I agree with you in your comment that “the other is hurt by our hearts toward them too…” I would add that that is not true 100% of the time. It depends on the nature of the hurter. If they are personality disordered (Borderline, or especially Narcissist,or Sociopathic, etc), they are not hurt by our woundedness that they inflicted; or by our resulting heartache towards them. They quite love that. It is a psychological high and a satisfaction to them that gives them the feeling of power. It is like a drug to an addict. If the “hurter” is one of these types of individuals, the only hurt they feel is if they do not have the opportunity to do it again or do it on an ongoing basis. They feel hurt that their divine right to consume the drug of abusing you or me by the power that they have over us in our pain has been cut off by our having no contact with them. They are offended and hurt by us cutting off their need to abuse and inflict misery and to see the power that our pain gives them over us.

    But you would scarcely hear THAT sermon by one of us in the pulpits. I don’t know why, but something comes over us when we step into the pulpit that forces us to put on the rose colored glasses.

  • Lynn123

    If people are thinking in terms of what the Bible says about sin, forgiveness (70 x 7)-maybe they need to see that the Bible doesn’t cover personality disorders. It doesn’t tell us what to do with very toxic people.

    I’ve often felt I could understand things better through psychology than the Bible.

  • Darrin

    Me too Lynn. As of the last 6 years anyway…

  • John

    All true Darrin, but the kind of person you describe is a small percentage of the people who hurt us. And even then we get into as safe a place as we can be from the abuser and experience the challenge of forgiveness for that person. Or we hurt ourselves and them. It’s harder to see the release of our forgiveness in the other because of the disease you describe.

    And Lynn123, when I started my studies in the field of psychology, I was elated with the underlying Creator truth in what it sees in us. It’s a tool to help us understand God’s creation. But I mean that in a profound illuminating way, like light. Hard to put that one in words.

  • http://www.newlifesd.blogspot.com k8

    I am an ex-church worker and I love that you’re able to talk about this kind of thing. The abuses of the church nearly killed me. Physically. And it wasn’t until I realized how close to physical death I was, that my soul was completely dead. Through some amazing and I believe God -given people and experiences, I am healing. I do not ever plan to go back to church work. If God wanted me to do that, I’m pretty sure I’d dig my heels in and scream bloody murder, but he has yet to call me in that way.

    I admire that you are able to continue to pastor. I couldn’t. And for that, I am grateful. To not even feel pulled there at this time. It is the hugest relief of my adult life.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    k8: That’s quite a story. Sorry for all that. I know exactly what you are talking about. I tried to stay out of ministry for some years, but I was pulled or pushed back in. I’m supposed to be here. I wouldn’t do it again if I were you unless you absolutely knew for certain that you must.

  • Darrin

    k8, over how many years and what happened to you along the way?

  • http://www.newlifesd.blogspot.com k8

    Darrin, I worked as a youth director for 10 years. I absolutely loved it for many of those years. It’s not really important who and what happened. Like it is posted above. To relay the exact abuses is a form of vengeance that I choose not to take. It’s not my place to share experiences that might keep someone away from the church. Suffice it to say that church workers are just as fragile as any other person and to stay in ministry means it’s important to acknowledge our hurts on a regular basis and stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit. And sometimes that means we have to walk away for awhile, or forever. God knew what I needed when I left there. And he continues to provide it.

  • FFFLAK

    Several years ago I was wounded greatly from the imperial leadership of a church I co-founded. I remained there for 4 years hoping things would improve, but they didn’t. After a full year of searching, God led me to one of the most transparent, caring, and healthiest churches I’ve ever experienced. Once the pastor there pried my story out of me he handed me this book from his personal library: “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.” It was amazing to me how well the authors described what was going on at the church I’d left behind. I recommend it to everyone reading & writing here on Naked’s blog. Here is an interview of Jeff VanVonderen (one of the authors):

    In addition, I’ve found a great deal of insight from a most powerful sermon by Graham Cooke titled, “Why Wounded & Betrayed Believers Are So Useful.” It can be found here: Graham packed so much revelation into this message I find myself listening to it every 3 months or so.

    I mention these resources only because in the two short years since receiving them, I feel as though I’ve thrown away the rear-view mirror of my hurt, forgiven the perpetrators (and myself), and moved into a wonderful place of intimacy with God and a better understanding of how to minister and trust again…

  • FFFLAK

    Sorry everyone, I tried to leave links to the two valuable resources (aside from the Holy Spirit) that helped me the most, but I think Naked’s blogsite is setup not to allow link postings. NP, would you allow me to resubmit the 2 links in question for your approval ?

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Hi FFFLAK: I’m sorry but I’ve checked your submission, and there were no links attached. Maybe try again?? Thanks.
    david

  • FFFLAK
  • FFFLAK

    Thanks NP. I love your heart not hurt the hurters. The light will become brilliant as your healing progresses. Embrace every emotion and know God will use it ALL…

  • FFFLAK

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