by Ellen cross posted from her blog When Church Hurts
We are approaching our second anniversary of being told that we were not to return to the church. Whenever I think about that day (which isn’t often), I remember calling my (former) friend, whom I will call “Martha,” and telling her, “We are going to lose all of our friends.”
“No, you won’t!” she insisted. “There are lots of people who love you and they aren’t going to abandon you.”
Martha stuck with me for a few months. But then the expectation that we be shunned kicked in and I haven’t heard from her in at least a year-and-a-half.
Funny thing is, Martha (and a very few others), had heard or read my story of how the church leadership had been abusing me for over a decade, long before we were kicked out. This small inner circle of friends knew about my blog and some had even followed it (one still does) and not one of them made the decision to shun me simply based on the fact that I was telling or sharing my story, either in person or on the blog.
Those who had heard my story were compassionate, empathetic, confused about the reason (as was I), and supportive.
Until we were tossed aside by the leadership.
At that point, nothing had changed. I hadn’t embarked on a campaign to promote my blog to the masses. I hadn’t made loud or overt public statements to the congregation or community about the abuse.
The only thing that changed was that the leadership became aware that I had “told.”
Isn’t it curious that while the people I had “told” had been “told” months and years before and our friendships blossomed and grew as a result of my transparency until the leadership found out.
I can only surmise that for those who had been my friends to admit that they were “in the know” about what the leadership had done to me for over a decade, would bring condemnation upon them, as well. So, they had to feign ignorance, shock, and chagrin on behalf of the leadership – which also required that the act in a manner that convinced the leadership of their agreement and support.
And that meant shunning us.
Friendships that fail due to fear of being judged by church leaders.
Well, I don’t have to tell you what to think of that.
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