I had not intended to have this blog be a place where I shared my story. I had imagined I would string words together that highlighted various theological concepts verses being a place where I would share intimate details of my life with you. I see this may have been my way of hiding behind my words.
The vulnerability of telling my story is not something I am comfortable with. In fact, it terrifies me.
Yet, I see that writing is another part of healing and I pray that as I heal you would find healing too- that my words become a balm of hope. And you would find a space for you to see that you are not alone.
Thank you, reader, for hearing my words.
I have lived much of my life thinking there was something wrong with me. Frankly, I have had a lot of crappy people in my life that reinforced this theory.
After years of heartache, hurt and throwing my confidence in the trash I decided I needed counseling. I stumbled into the counselor’s office and pleaded with her to help me change. Fix me. Make me a different person so the pain would not be so great.
In some ways this was not a wrong thought – I did need to change just not in the way I had imagined.
I thought a lot about dying during this time. I had never understood suicide – why someone would want to take their own life. I got it. While I did not intend to harm myself, I just wanted the pain to stop. And when you believe that you are the sole source of all the pain in your life dying seems like sweet relief.
There is a great deal of stories that have led up to this point in my life. I intend to unpack them over time. Today we will start with Jane.
This of course is not her real name. I find it to be important to hide the true identity of those I refer too – it seems only fair. They do not get to share in their experience of the situation. SO to be clear this was mine. And mine alone.
I have never been one to think any situation is one sided no matter how crappy one party might be.
Jane came into my life during a very low point. My family had just transitioned from a church that we loved. We accepted Christ within the walls of that church and had our first real experience with the Christian community. This did not end well and I am sure there will come a time I tell you those stories.
For now, we focus on Jane. Jane was the women’s ministry leader of the new church we started attending. The church had somewhat been in its infancy stages BUT gosh, there was excitement and joy within it. The community embraced us like a long-lost child. It felt as if we had landed in a little slice of Heaven.
And for a time, this remained.
I began to serve and get more involved. I wound up serving on the women’s leadership team. This felt like a great opportunity. I had for so long desired to serve in that capacity.
I was given various roles serving the women but what trilled me the most was speaking. As terrifying as it was to stand in front of others and share my story something about it made me feel alive.
We were preparing for an upcoming retreat and Jane had asked me to speak during one of the sessions.
I could NOT contain my exciting. I am certain I glowed during this time. I could feel the Holy Spirit’s prompting and began to prepare.
Jane had said the team would meet closer to the retreat to go over our various notes and flush out the theme for the weekend.
You can imagine my surprise when the theme for the retreat was announced on Facebook.
I immediately text Jane. I wanted to make sure what I planned to talk about fell in line with this theme. When I received her text back, I think time froze.
She simply said: “What are you talking about? You are not speaking.”
To say I was crushed is understatement. I felt confused. I did not understand. She had a approached me to speak, what change? I asked if we could meet in person because I wanted to understand. Had I done something? Did I misunderstand her? Why had she acted as if we never spoke on it?
We met a few days later at a local coffee stand.
During the first part of our conversation she acted as if we had never talked about me being a speaker for one of the sessions. I decided I need to be specific about the time and place we spoke. Perhaps, she had forgotten.
After thirty minutes of talking she seemed to have some recollection of our convo, although, she maintained she never promised anything nor verified my involvement. The whole thing felt strange and confusing. She made me feel as if I had fabricated the story in my mind.
We ended our convo with her sharing the details of the retreat. Her best friend could speak in my place. (A place she still maintained I never held) And we parted ways.
As I made my way to my car in the parking lot, I could feel the tears welling up. I just wanted to get in my car. I did not want anyone to see how crushed I was. As I closed the door and sat down in my driver’s seat I balled. I am not sure how much time passed – it felt like I cried for an eternity.
My heart was broken.
And everything about Jane felt confusing. She was much older than I and had taken me under her wing. She had given me opportunities and I was learning so much. Why had she acted like that?
This was not the Jane I knew.
What unfolded after this moment would turn out to be one of the most CONFUSING and self-doubting times of my life.
And looking back that is what toxic people do: make you doubt yourself. They leave you feeling like you do not see clearly. That your mind played tricks on you.
And Jane certainly did all those things while functioning in the role of ministry. AND I think that is the hardest part of about stories like this: we think it should not happen within the church. BUT it does. It happens all the time.
And we don’t talk about it. We don’t share. We often go to some isolated island where the “hurt” church people go. Sometimes we even lose our faith. We walk away from God. Trust me, I thought about it a time or two. Or three. Or four. You can ask my friends they will probably tell you seventeen!
So, this blog is space to say: me too. I get it. I have been there. It happened to me.
My prayer is that along the way of telling my story you will be brave enough to tell yours.
Until next time,