Before I share more stories of Spiritual Abuse from my cultural background, I would like to share some of the ways I met Jesus through my Mennonite friends. Spiritual Abuse is not a Mennonite problem, it is a ‘people in power for the wrong reason’ problem. I want to leave no room for confusion on where I stand on this. I love the good in my heritage. It is rich and wonderful and I thank God for it. As I share more of the ‘dark side’, I pray this truth shines through.
After that initial interrogation, I became a member at Lakeview and lived peacefully in the church where the abuse took place. Although I was careful to follow the constitution and church standards, my main focus was developing a personal relationship with God.
For nearly two years I stayed, during which time I got to know one of the ministers, Peter Steckle, and his wife Rita. I lived on their farm and cared for Peter’s aging parents. Rita became a personal friend, someone with whom I talked and laughed freely about many things, even where I disagreed with the church. I was loved, accepted and respected.
I never shared with Rita or her husband how violated I felt by the leaders. In a church and culture where the leader or Bishop speaks and the people are taught to mindlessly follow, no one would have questioned that meeting, even if they felt it was wrong. It’s just wasn’t done. I, too, learned quickly to silently accept, or at least ignore things that were wrong.
When I decided to leave Lakeview, I met with the same leaders who had interviewed me in that little prayer room, and requested a release of membership and letter of recommendation. I told them I could not conscientiously support their constitution and wished to pursue my relationship with God elsewhere. To their credit they honoured that request with very little resistance.
The pastors’ wives at my new church—Countryside Mennonite Fellowship—along with their husbands, showed me grace, love and acceptance. The Bishop’s wife, Florence Martin, gave me a note one day that said, “Who knows but that God may want to use you …” Another leader’s wife, after watching Lisa Bevere with myself and some friends, said, “Trudy, I could see you doing that one day.”
As these women spoke into my life, and their husbands treated me with respect and dignity, I started to believe that God also sees potential and value in me, that He has a plan and a purpose that goes beyond my feelings of insecurity, fear, and unworthiness. There, in the Mennonite culture, where so much wounding took place, God showed Himself to me, and the healing from Spiritual Abuse began.
This blog is not to promote a mass exodus out of any culture. Leaving a culture is never, in and of itself, a solution. However, leaving behind the religious spirit and mindset goes a long way in ending the power of Spiritual Abuse.
Whether we go or stay, there is an inner call to freedom, hope and a future. If that call is best fulfilled within our culture, then that is where we will want to stay. If it leads us on some other path, then that is the path we want to choose.
The important thing is to always reach for Truth. To always desire to follow God and know Him more, to find Jesus in the day-to-day, and be led by the Holy Spirit, not humanistic thinking.
Whatever your path to freedom, walk it with God, through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
I appreciate, the private messages I have received from readers who know some of the leaders I write about. I want to acknowledge that our views of these leaders may be very different dependent on our experiences. In this blog I shared glimpses of pastors, who represented the heart of God in a healthy way in my life, because I believe it is important to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the good in broken places. It is especially important to find role models to stand in the gap for those by whom we have been most deeply wounded. The risk with sharing this part of my story is that, while these leaders showed me the love and grace of God, it is possible that you have been wounded by them. On the flip side, it is possible that some of the leaders who wounded me were heroes in your life. I do not wish to minimize either situation. It is important to remember that we do not look for perfection in leaders but, rather, we look for God to reveal His heart through broken humanity. (“All good things come from above…” ( James 1:17) Therefore all things good reflect God’s heart, regardless how imperfect the channel for that good.)
© Trudy Metzger 2012
Go to First Post In This Series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/