Webchat with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, TODAY at 1pm x

Hand holding please - About to throw my whole life overboard.

(255 Posts)
MissGarth Tue 24-Sep-13 13:23:27

Tonight me and DH are leaving an organisation that is basically our whole life- all our friends are there, we spend all our free time there, we use our gifts in a voluntary capacity there and the long term plan was that the organisation would be our employer, in a field we have wanted to work in all our lives.

And now we are leaving.

Can't say more about the organisation until we have told them.

I feel so sick and so frightened.

We have no doubt we will be cut off from all our friends and never hear from anyone again. It is going to be very lonely. There are lots of people there we genuinely love.

I'm also frightened about what they will say about us when we leave. We know of other people who have left and they all seem to have left after extremely poor/ shockingly bad behaviour...which we now realise, of course, is crap.

Thank God for DH.

enriquetheringbearinglizard Fri 15-Nov-13 20:12:23

Read the whole thread and just wondering how you're getting on MissGarth.
I can't believe the pressures this group put upon you and hope you're coping ok.

I can't get out of my mind that other people have left, so that should indicate something to you and that they are the kind of people who preach to others but would happily take back charitable donations and deny support if they're not getting their own way.
That speaks volumes to me.

bellasuewow Tue 05-Nov-13 20:59:19

Brave vibes coming your way miss Garth you sound like a very good person good luck with your new life

Ruprekt Thu 10-Oct-13 22:36:29

How are things?smilesmile

Patilla Tue 08-Oct-13 06:36:23

I just wanted to de-lurk to say that you have really come across as acting with integrity and care, OP.

I hope that you manage to find a new place of fellowship that you can belong in.

tribpot Mon 07-Oct-13 22:17:25

It sounds like you're detoxing quite well, OP! You're quite right to delete the texts and emails, they obviously have quite a routine worked out for trying to guilt-bomb people who leave. You need to be resolute - right now you're distracted by the high drama caused by the guilt-bombing but you will be more susceptible in the weeks to come when the reality sets in that a major part of your life has gone for good.

Stay busy - crochet will be a great help and we have many Huggers in London - and you may perhaps see this as a test of your faith. You could have chosen the 'safe' option of having a church family and the appearance of a devout community but instead you have rejected hypocrisy to take a harder path.

Monty27 Mon 07-Oct-13 21:51:34

Have pm'd you Miss Garth. Please do the right thing.

cartoad Mon 07-Oct-13 21:47:19

Oh and I noticed that you said that when somebody else left the church they were nastily unchristianly horribly ruthless about ensuring the other person couldn't carry on working with the charity they were both involved with, to the point that they said if they did, not only would they stop supporting it but that they would demand all their gifts back.

I would be tempted, on the grounds that the pastor's and the head pastor's behaviour have seriously compromised the organisation (by not stepping down immediately after receiving the order against him and by allowing the pastor to continue) and that therefore you would like your gifts to be returned to you, as they were deceiving you into thinking the organisation was something that it wasn't.

You could then use them however you want - whether it enables you to break away from the organisation more easily, or you give it to people/organisations you feel are more deserving or you blow the whole lot on lottery tickets one week (OK the latter option doesn't sound like the one you'd go for!) or whatever...

But if it is a threat they are happy to make to a charity that either way will reduce the support the charity gets to a greater or lesser degree (either from the individual concerned or from the church group) then maybe it would be good for them to be on the receiving end of similar treatment. I can't quote the bible but I do know that you can pull out bits and bobs to support pretty much any argument that you want so I am sure that you will find a way to do this nicely and they will come back with a counter argument. Because all you have to do is point out that they can't argue against you because they are arguing against themselves and their own actions, which would prove that they are wrong about things IYSWIM. Even if you use it as a threat and don't go through with it - or most likely - dream about doing doing it - it's a useful thought exercise to think about how in other ways the church is acting in a very unchristian way, this is a great example.

Good luck and stay firm in your convictions - hopefully all the support on here will help you and you can see that you are doing the right thing.

cartoad Mon 07-Oct-13 21:26:46

I think you've been very brave and principled and have shown true christian spirit in your actions. Completely unlike your pastor and yet he thinks he is being christian - he is the one that is deluded and needs help (- as do those who are still listening to him and unable to see the real man underneath his veneer - ) he likes the power of being a pastor too much to give it up which when it comes to it is a pretty un-christianly thing and you are well away from him.

I would work out a sentence (maybe with the help of those who know better than me) that you can use in all situations when dealing with this - whether thinking about it or using it as a reply to emails and texts etc. Something along the lines of the famous MN 'Did you mean that to sound so rude?' but obviously tailored to your circumstances.

Something along the lines of believing that God is the most important thing to you, and when a person in a position of trust's actions do not match up with their spoken beliefs then you would be failing god and yourselves to carry on following them.

MissGarth Mon 07-Oct-13 20:26:11

Tigger- really helpful, thank you.
Fluffy- I know you wouldn't say that lightly, so I appreciate it.

Just been having a long chat with DH about it. We think maybe we just need to delete texts and emails without reading them from now on. That does feel like we are closing a door, which is a shame, but we feel it is right for now.

In a way we feel sorry for the pastor because he is obviously terrified we are bad mouthing him to others in the church whereas we haven't said a word of criticism to anyone there. All this must just take so much effort and head strain for him.

Our resignation letter went to the head pastor, and the pastor in charge of our little church, as he is technically who is in charge of us, but apart from that we haven't discussed it with anyone.

DH thinks he probably does know we won't gossip, but perhaps other people in the church are wondering why we have left and discussing it and it is this the teaching is aimed at stopping.

Anyway, it all just seems a waste of time and energy that the church could spend helping people and serving.

It does underline for us why we have left, because it makes for a very odd environment with all this stuff swirling away under the surface.

Sunday was spent with DH doing stuff his parents really needed doing around their place and I was doing a favour for a friend, neither of which we could have done if we were had been at church, and our giving for the week, instead of going to the church, went straight into the hands of a friend of DH who lost his job last month, so in a way I feel like we are still managing to rub along pretty well. Long term obviously we are going to need some fellowship, and it is easier to accomplish service in groups, but for now I feel like we are well out of it.

Thank you my MN chums for helping me get through this.

Fluffythefish Mon 07-Oct-13 18:52:58

I think itsatigger has put it all beautifully.
I find the whole concept of preaching about what it a pastoral issue (you leaving the church) and reinforcing it with a bible study really repugnant and rather scary. And I don't say that easily or with any pleasure. But that just cannot be how God wants the gospel, the Good News to be abused, in my opinion

itsatiggerday Mon 07-Oct-13 18:35:32

MissG, can I suggest that you don't assume that their diagnosis of your reaction is correct? There's a massive difference between being offended and leaving in a huff (I guess flouncing here!) and being troubled by something and working out how to deal with it.

Church is meant to be a different entity. Ephesians 4 has loads to say about the practicalities of living out our identity in Christ but it starts from the point of view of speaking truth (v21-25). Then it goes on to godly living, including gossip etc but also including sexual immorality etc. It goes full circle to 5:6-7 where it's back to truth not deception and having nothing to do with those who persist.

So the responsibility is on each of us to live out a godly life because of the truth we know in Jesus. We need to speak this truth to each other, even when it's hard, but in the context of a family who love each other.

You've done that. If they persist in covering up sin, then you're not 'offended' in leaving. You're just doing what you have sadly concluded is the only thing you can do when the leadership will not fulfill their responsibilities under God.

My personal opinion is that contact is going to be difficult unless it's genuinely two way and there is humility on both sides to listen. I suspect that might be rather too one sided here. But the other danger, I think, is that in their one way contact, they set their interpretation of what has happened as 'the reality' and that's really hard to engage with as it's not actually a reflection of your thinking. Engaging is just too hard when you have to unpick all their assumptions in everything they say.

nicename Mon 07-Oct-13 17:29:05

Lordy. You need to tell us where the meetings/services are so we can get a Mumsnet Posse together.

I'll send DB who had some very lonnnng and intense conversations with the hospital chaplain when dad was ill (poor chaplain - DB is very intelligent and very intense--- also like a dog with a bone)

RandomMess Mon 07-Oct-13 17:24:10

I'm horrified that the Elder who text knows about the order!!! Regardless of whether he thinks it is justified/deserved he should be insisting it is upheld shock

lougle Mon 07-Oct-13 15:19:42

I think the point he was making was similar to the 'takes a little yeast to leaven the whole lump' kind of thing.

The thing that struck me is that actually, each of those points could be turned around:

-Offence - you've taken it, perhaps, that the message is that you should not have been offended enough to leave the church. It can also be taken that people in the church should not be offended that you've left.

-Learn to overlook stuff - you see that as 'MissGarth should have overlooked the technicality of someone being banned from working with children.' It could also be read as 'Overlook MissGarth and MrGarth telling you you've got it wrong. It may hurt, but you have to make changes blah blah....' (neither good, but one less accusatory than the other).

-Mind your own business - you see it as 'MissGarth should have minded her own business.' It can also be 'mind your own business and don't gossip about Miss and Mr Garth.'

So even if you don't feel comfort from that, you know that if they are thinking badly of you, they're breaking their own preaching grin

passedgo Mon 07-Oct-13 15:17:55

LTBs (note the plural).

It's group emotional grooming and group emotional abuse. Vile and definitely not something Jesus would have approved of. Not that I know him or anything, but really. A person's religion or relationship with their god is fairly private and should stay that way. Nobody should ever allow you to expose this private part of yourself and use it against you.

That's one of the essential parts of being a leader/priest/elder in any religion. It is a hugely responsible position because people are making themselves vulnerable in your presence. An elder has to keep check of this and have humility. They are the link between you and your god, and also your community. They should be enabling this, not controlling it.

BillyBanter Mon 07-Oct-13 14:38:56

I don't know from a theological point of view but I can imagine the response it would get in Relationships!

MissGarth Mon 07-Oct-13 13:50:20

Cornflake girl, I could do with some supernatural dentistry grin

Longtallsally that is a really good question to ask.

I was thinking when I read the teaching materials about when I was considering becoming a Christian one of the things that touched me most was the way Jesus always went out of his way to heal/include those who were outcasts because of physical diseases like leprosy. Rather than telling people to treat others as if they had physical diseases confused. I really appreciate the encouragement and the 1 thess verse.

Longtallsally Mon 07-Oct-13 13:38:12

Oh Showtunes, I remember the whole fillings in teeth debate! It started out with people who were genuinely excited about discovering God's love and ended up focused on this weird issue, which folks had decided was proof that God loved them.

I once went to see a wise pastor about some teaching I was not sure of. He gave me a quick question to ask, if ever in doubt: does the teaching give glory to Jesus? Yes or no - quite simple really.

cornflakegirl Mon 07-Oct-13 13:07:49

MissGarth - have been following your thread for a while, and just wanted to add my thoughts on the small group teaching.

Learn to overlook stuff - turn the other cheek if you will - it's good, if the offence is against you. If it's vulnerable people who are at risk of being hurt, then it looks more like walking by on the other side of the road. God's heart is very much for vulnerable people.

Mind your own business - again sound advice, but not when one of the sides is at a massive disadvantage. We are called to actively intervene on behalf of widows and orphans, those who are unprotected.

It also calls to mind Matthew 18:15-17: "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private" - and then with 2 or 3 witnesses and then tell the whole church. I don't read this at all as a criticism of the way you left, because practically this advice doesn't work when the person is the church leader, but clearly Jesus doesn't think that we should blithely ignore what other people are doing.

I just looked up 1 Thess 4:11, and saw verse 12 - "[do these things] so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders" - I think you know from this thread that you have respect of a lot of outsiders.

I hope you know as well that it isn't normal for pastors to abuse their authority by drafting sermons and study material to attack people who have privately disagreed with them. I hope you will find yourselves a new church family where you can mutually encourage each other in your relationship with Jesus.

showtunesgirl Mon 07-Oct-13 12:21:22

OP, stay strong and true to yourself.

A friend of mine did something similar where she left a church as she didn't trust them anymore after something happened on an outbound trip. It was a really tough decision for her to make as at the time her sister and mother were still devout followers of the leader.

The leader was making claims like God had changed his fillings from amalgem into gold which meant that he was a Chosen One etc. hmm

Eventually, her sister and mother also left.

MissGarth Mon 07-Oct-13 12:16:48

Longtallysally, that is really kind, thank you.

By accident or design I just got sent by the pastor the study guide for what each of the church's small groups are being taught this week..... I think he probably sent it to secretly tell me off but really it confirms to me everything I worried about, that the teaching is being warped to allow this person to do what he wants and control the people in the church.

It is on taking offence...here are some classic highlights...(I will leave them up for a bit and then get the post deleted at some point later)

In the message on Sunday, Pastor x gave a number of points on how to avoid being offended. Points that are especially poignant to cover in groups:

• The Greek word for offense means the bait in a trap. It is tempting to be offended, it is tempting to blame other people for how we are and what is going on in our lives, and why we are not a success. It is tempting to blame God, blame the pastor. It makes us feel better about ourselves, it’s easy to sit down and gossip and slander someone and it is hard to rise up in faith speak love, forgive and make the changes you need to make to achieve your dreams

•Learn to overlook stuff. We all have said things we didn’t mean – we know it happens to us and we are generous and gracious with ourselves so let’s start being gracious to others. No one is perfect, but by you focusing on the imperfections of others your focus on the dream God has given you is broken. You cannot walk in your dreams and stay offended – so you have two choices: one is to stay in bed all day and never meet anyone, the other is to grow up and learn how to overlook things.

If we overlook things we often feel that we are letting people off the hook. It was never our place or right to put people on the hook. Offenses come out of a place of pride, where we think we deserve to be angry because of how badly we are treated

•Mind Your Own Business. 1 Thess. 4.11 says to “mind your own business”, Proverbs 26.17 says that if you get involved in a fight that’s not yours then you will be grabbing a dog by the ears. You have to realize that offended people are miserable and want to draw other people into their misery and offense. So they will try and tell you how awful the offender is to gain sympathy and gain affection. If you listen and get involved, it is like grabbing a dog by the ears – it will not end well. Hebrews 12.15 tells us that the root of bitterness can defile many – it’s contagious. If you are out for coffee with someone and they start running someone else down, you need to act like you are at a table with someone with black death and get out of there – it will infect your thinking and your mind is too precious to be infected by small, petty, bitter, offended thinking

Would be interested in any opinions about this theologically...

I think this proves the point that I need to completely cut off contact because every day when something like this happens it just knocks me again. I woke up feeling really peaceful this morning and got all anxious when I read that. It becomes apparent why we haven't heard from any of our friends, though, if they are being told to treat us like we have the black death confused

Longtallsally Mon 07-Oct-13 09:32:45

MissG - just wanted to say that your posts here reflect a strength and really gentle kindness in you. You are being so careful to consider the impact of your words and actions on others, and to 'walk gently' through this difficult time, whilst not being swayed from what you know is the right course of action.

birdybear Mon 07-Oct-13 09:23:21

ah yes, the clue being in the word "text", huh, thats what typing on a phone does to me...confuses!

thanksamillion Mon 07-Oct-13 08:11:24

birdybear I think that mojojo was meaning the text the OP received from the church elder, not your post. HTH

birdybear Mon 07-Oct-13 07:28:31

ignore my text? i presume you mean the one before. with regard to communication, i would suggest unless they can say something nice to you, i would ignore them also. there is no value in engaging with them if they do not want what is best for YOU and makes you happy. there is nothing wrong with leaving a church, especially in the way you have done it x

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now