by Ellen cross posted from her blog When Church Hurts
God loves you with an everlasting love. (Change your brain.)
What do you hold as most important? What are the essential qualities that you value in yourself, others, life? Have you ever written them down?
Soon after being tossed out of our church, I discovered the importance of knowing my values and comparing them to the values of my church’s leadership as demonstrated in their behavior towards me.
When I made a list of my values, it included:
Of course, my list was much longer, but these were a few of the key values for me. Go ahead, make a list of your values. Then circle or identify those that are key for you.
Now, think about the people who have mistreated you.
When I think about the people who mistreated me, I realize that they did not share my list of values.
They were not honest in that they would not tell me the truth of the charges against me.
They lacked integrity in that they didn’t live what they proclaimed to believe because they didn’t love, forgive, reconcile, or follow the scriptural guidelines for resolving conflict with me.
They lacked any demonstration of charity toward me or my family when we were immersed in times of deep need.
They definitely were not loyal to me. They were more concerned with turning my faith into compliance and consequences and when I didn’t measure up to their demands.
It was a defining moment for me when I realized that the values that I hold as essential were not present in my abusers. And I had to come to terms with the fact that the gap that was created between my values and those that were being practiced by the leadership of the church created a dehumanizing and shaming culture in our relationship. The more I tried to navigate this situation by trying to make them understand that they needed to live the values that they professed and that I held dear, the wider the divide became between us.
It was in recognizing that my values were not being demonstrated by the church leadership that I was forced to ask myself why I would want to continue pursuing a relationship with a person or an organization that not only had not demonstrated those characteristics toward me, but had flat out refused to do so?
At the same time, I wrestled with the thought that just because they didn’t exhibit the values that I hold dear, shouldn’t I as a Christian continue to extend those values to them?
And then I realized that I have. I have and continue to be honest via this blog, and I would be face-to-face were they to give me the opportunity.
I have and continue to demonstrate my integrity by living the things that I say I believe and through my continued willingness to live it out with those who harmed me should they ever express a desire to do so.
My values remain intact in my desire and willingness to work toward a God-honoring conclusion to my story with my abusers should they ever express that desire, as well.
But, they have not. And as long as that is the reality, then I can rest in knowing that I have done all that I can and I don’t have to continue to mourn relationships in which people have demonstrated that their values do not align with mine.
I would encourage you to list your values. Then list the ways that the leadership or people who mistreated or abused you behave in light of those values. If their behavior demonstrates that they do not share your values, and if they aren’t walking their talk, then you must ask yourself if this is a relationship that you want to pursue or remain in? If you do, there is a good chance that you will continue to be hurt.
You will find great peace when you take yourself out of relationships in which the value divide is so great that you are being wounded. It’s important that you separate yourself from those whose demonstrated values do not align with yours and have led to shame and blame.
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