What’s Your Motive? To Hurt? To Help? To Heal?

What’s Your Motive? To Hurt? To Help? To Heal? January 7, 2017

WhenChurchHurtsby Ellen cross posted from her blog When Church Hurts

I haven’t yet publicly posted the last two parts of my story on this blog.  I’m checking my motive before I do that.  Because, while all the names have been changed and only one person that knows me personally is following this blog (and I suspect has shared it with church leadership), I want to be sure that when I post it publicly, it is not to hurt, but to help others to heal.

From the beginning of my story, with that church, that pastor, and other leadership, I know that my motivation was to help.  Without giving it away here, I was involved in a volunteer capacity in which I became intimately aware that the leader was diminishing those who were serving under him.  Because I so wanted this leader to be successful, I began the process of Matthew 18.  I was his “chief volunteer” you might say, working closely with him for several months, so I was comfortable speaking with him about my concerns.  Several times.  Nothing changed. And his behavior continued to create angst amongst the other volunteers.

So, again with the motive of helping him to understand and redirect, I went to leadership.  From there, the situation spiraled out of control.  From there, everyone began saying that I was the problem for pointing out the problem.  And it didn’t make sense to me.  Because in my heart, I knew that my motive was to help.  I wanted this person to be successful.  I wanted the other volunteers to be built up and well-prepared for the ministry in which we were involved.

Instead, I was told that I could no longer serve under that leader.

And as time went on, I was told I could not do lots of other things in the church.  Each time I received these messages, I asked “Why?” and was never given a specific answer.  I would also ask (if I wasn’t told directly) if the senior pastor was aware of this decision.  Always, I was told that he was.  So I would email him and ask, “What have I done?  Why was this happening?  How can you allow this?”  My motive was to follow Matthew 18.  And since the senior pastor was always named, I always went directly to him.

Finally, the day came when I was stopped on the sidewalk on a Sunday morning as hundreds of people were leaving the church, and told that I could not be involved in serving, attending classes, or doing anything except to sit in the services.  As with every other time I was told I “couldn’t,” I asked “Why?”  This assistant pastor refused to tell me citing “legal ramifications.”

From then on, I repeatedly asked the senior pastor, who had again been named in this decision, all of the “Why?” “What have I done?” “How can you preach grace and truth when you know this is happening to me?” questions.

Never a response.

And we all know that no response is a response.

The message I was receiving was that I was the problem and I didn’t deserve so much as a Matthew 18 process. I didn’t deserve to even know what I was accused of.  And I believed it.

I know that might sound crazy to some of you reading this, but when you have been shamed and abused for as long as I was – over 20 years in two different churches – and had heard all of the scripture references that supported being told that I was not even acceptable to God, well, I guess you just have to have been there . . .

Anyway, back to motive.  I know my motive.  My heart has always been to ask for help.  My heart has always been to extend help.  My heart has always been to find healing.  And now, my heart is to share my story so that others who read it might know they are not alone, or might recognize the abuses going on in their own churches – or perhaps that they are perpetrating.  My heart is to offer those who know someone who has been abused direction in how to help them heal.  My heart is to help and to heal.

And I must ask myself, what was the motive of the leadership at the church?  Was there any attempt to help me?  I can’t see it.

Was there any attempt to bring healing to me?  (In my head this is being answered with a whisper) “No.”

Did anything come of the way that I was treated besides deep wounds, shame, and inexplicable pain?  “No.”

If I am wrong, I would really appreciate it if someone would, with the motive of promoting help and healing, help me to understand.

moreRead more by Ellen:

Doing the Right Thing

Ellen is a member of the SASBN and she blogs at When Church Hurts

More about Ellen:

Several years ago I was the victim of a most heinous form of abuse unlike anything I had ever thought possible. Not having been raised in a Christian home, my first experience with Christians and pastors had been one of joy, grace, fellowship, love, and delight. When faced with the horrors of having the very essence of who I was as a woman of faith stripped from me in what I can only describe as spiritual rape, I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. This was church, after all, and I believed that everything works together for good for those who love God. Somehow, it didn’t make sense that everything was not working together for good. When I was finally able to resign myself to the fact that God was not going to “work this out,” I made my escape and sought a safe haven. 
Little did I realize that I was going from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. Oh, how I tried to beat back the flames! Oh, how I prayed and pleaded for mercy, for grace, for a chance. “But hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will toward” Ellen. 
He who began a good work . . . had forsaken me . . . and the silence was more than deafening . . . it was defeating. So intertwined were we, that as God went missing, so did Ellen. But I am nothing, if not tenacious.

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  • Friend

    Some churches are all about protecting a paranoid bossman. Everything and everyone else is subordinate to that goal. These places stay open for business only because they have “church” somewhere in the name or on their website.

  • gimpi1

    “… everyone began saying that I was the problem for pointing out the problem.”

    I think that happens a great deal in these groups. It’s sort of like the way some conservative Christians regard President Obama as ‘making race relations so much worse,’ by acknowledging that there are problems, rather than pretending that everything is just great, and anyone who thinks they’re being treated unfairly is just ‘wallowing in a culture of victimization.’ Or the way they seem to feel that if a troubled marriage stays together and everyone pastes smiles on and acts like they’re happy, then the problems don’t exist. To call attention to a problem seems to be regarded as creating it.