Special thanks to my friend Steve Stutzman, of Strait Paths Foundation, for allowing me to share this letter. I read it and was both touched and challenged by it, so I shared it on Facebook. It was met with appreciation by most, and criticism by a few.
But one young woman’s response means more to me than a thousand others could. She is very, very young. Barely a teenager yet, but already stripped and wounded… and she said, quite simply, ‘thank you’. For her, and others like her, who are raw with pain, and not religious enough to criticize or pick apart what all is wrong with Steve’s wording, I will repost it. I know the heart with which it was written, and I know how desperately the wounded heart needs to be acknowledged…
“To Who it may concern:
First of all, I want to apologize. I’m sorry for the hurt, for the misunderstanding, for the wounds you have received at the hands of the Conservative Movement. I’m sorry you heart was/is ignored and only your behaviour matters to anyone. I’m sorry you do not feel or find complete love and the community acceptance your heart wanted to begin with, when you moved toward this group. And I’m sorry you were lied to.
The behavior of the leadership surrounding these wounds has many levels, too many to address here. But I will bring up a few. They are not trained. Most of them have never even been fathered into personally solid identity. They were chosen and installed, many times without even an idea of what they are to be doing, let alone what God’s plan was for them personally. They are asked to do the impossible; to live perfectly before everyone, never make a mistake, notice everyones new baby and sore arm, visit in hospitals, do funerals and weddings, take care of their own family and wife, (which require extra attention because of the position and pressure) give oversight to schools and projects, keep everyone conservative, identify and block every threat that comes along, study for sermons, and know doctrine, evangelize, counsel, answer everyones questions, help the widows, stabalize the broken, run missions, all the while making a living. It is completely impossible, and it is both stupid and sinful for us to require all this of them. Then they make mistakes, and hurt people. Somehow this madness needs to STOP.
SOMETHING is going to suffer, somewhere, these guys are going to fall down on the job. They get hated on and criticized at every turn. There is not a man on earth who can be and do all this stuff, and somewhere something gets cut. This time, that something was you, your heart, your relationship. Again, I repeat, sorry about that.
One of the first things that gets dropped is relationships. Relationships take time and energy, and these guys have neither. So they resort to heavy-handed, high-minded administration techniques, complete with pressure, manipulation and punishment. When they see you out of line, they slap. It is all they know to do. There is little consideration to the validity of the accusation leveled against you, they just slap and move on. To those of us who grew up in this stuff, it seems almost normal, even godly. It isn’t, by the way…. but it can seem like it.
They have no consideration, no filter, for accusations, They receive them without witnesses, and act on them without peer. Because of this, the spirit of accusation moves in and runs amuck throughout the churches. It carries with it a very defining sting, a peculiar lash of the tongue, a biting that is very singular in nature. With that lashing sting, it maintains order. This is a great evil that must be stopped. Isa 58:9″ Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;” …. Revival will not come forth until this spirit of the accusing finger is put out, cut off, cast asunder.
You got bit by that snake, lashed by that tongue, cut by those words, poked by that finger. Again, I am sorry. Please forgive freely those who know not what they do, and those who do not what they know. Don’t try to correct them now, just forgive as freely as possible, love, and ask God every day for 3 weeks, to bless those specifically that hurt you the most.
You came for the lifestyle, for the family atmosphere, and for teaching in obedience. This they do relatively well. The Biblical foundation you and your children receive here is second to none, that I am aware of, anywhere. The first word children read is GOD. The first reading lesson is on creation. Rod and Staff school material will give your children a background of Bible knowledge by grade 5 that most people will not have when they die. Teaching every Sunday twice, and Wed also, is very foundation building. That is good, and you don’t want to throw it away lightly.
On the other hand, Rod and Staff home base church has screwed up a LOT of people. Other churches along the same line have hurt many many serious, sincere hearts. What you are going to do about that is between you and God. If you choose to stay, I do not think the less of you, or the more. I do not think that raising a stink over the issue you are now facing is going to help anybody anywhere. You will simply be written off as ‘rebellious’ and sidelined or thrown out completely. The system itself cannot hear your words, and while it has a great stated respect for the Word of Christ, has little respect for His Spirit.
My advice…. tear up the letters. Let it go. Allow it as a misunderstanding, and forgive and bless as fully as Christ will carry you to. It may be that they already realize it is a mistake, but have no idea how to backtrack….. no one ever taught them that. Give them an easy way out, silence. Walk with God, rejoice in Christ, and wait. Ask Him for the right opportunity to move, and to speak clear Life into situations.
No you are not crazy. Yes you are right…. at least, as conflict goes. And yes, they are wrong. No, they won’t admit it. (They don’t know how, no one ever showed them how.) But God is not so interested in who is right and who is wrong: God is giving YOU an opportunity to die a cruel death, He has put a brutal cross in front of you. It is not about giving in to wrong, it is about yielding your very heart into the hands of the Master, laying down your life, and realizing that in the darkness of the experience, He will rip off motivations of your heart to deep for you to even recognize, and replace them with pure eternal gold. Don’t miss this opportunity to die.
~ Steve Stutzman (To connect with Steve, click on his name and visit his Facebook page. To take a strip off of this article, visit my Facebook page and send me the hate mail… this was my idea. Trudy Metzger)
We are excited to have Steve & Dorcas join us, November 22-23, 2013, for our next Shattering the Silence Conference, for both men and women. We will hear their stories, their hearts and be blessed by their teaching.
To register, visit http://www.faithgirlsunleashed.com, go to the Events page, and scroll down to the November conference. We look forward to seeing you! You will be blessed and challenged. You will laugh, and you will probably cry. But most importantly, you will encounter Jesus, and His healing touch!
Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series
Return to First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series