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It’s Spring of 2004.  I thought I was finally in the place I was supposed to be in; God’s perfect will for my life.  I was being paid $300 a week to play piano and lead worship at Living Water Church in Fort Worth, Texas with my husband, Bob, who was also part of the worship team.  I had been redeemed from the guilt and shame of past divorce and choices that took me out of God’s will.  Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, I went early to church to prepare my song list with the band and vocalists for the upcoming church service.  I lead the church people through the worship portion of the church service, then played piano and sang during the altar call part of the service, after the pastor’s sermon.

The only glitch in “God’s perfect will” was that my unhealthy marriage and home life were taking a toll on me.  Since my marriage to Bob in January of 1999, his untreated and uncontrolled mental illness had put me in a state of depression and hopelessness.  I came to a point where I felt I could no longer continue in my present home situation, so I went to my pastor for help.  He was aware of Bob’s mental condition and encouraged me to seek help from a professional counselor.  He gave me the number for a Christian counseling referral service.  I made an appointment for Bob and I, but never expected Bob to go with me.  Sure enough, he didn’t.

My new counselor was very understanding of me, but said she wasn’t able to counsel Bob and me as a couple.  From what I described of Bob, she told me she didn’t feel he would be able to participate in a relationship until he received therapy on his own and took control of his mental illness.  She saw how I was hurting and told me I needed to focus on taking care of myself and not expect anything from Bob without years of therapy.  I felt I had to separate from Bob and get healthy myself.  Although I wasn’t happy about another divorce, I felt it was necessary for my mental and emotional health.  I was concerned about the security of my church position as worship leader while going through divorce and my counselor advised me to ask my pastor and his wife for support before continuing as worship leader.

After I got home, I thought about who I could talk to for support.  I had been in Living Water Church for a few years and thought of the church people as my extended family.  I called a lady who was the leader of the church’s version of AA, a twelve-step Christian-based program for people with addictions.  I knew this woman was doing community service for a drunk driving conviction and had been divorced a few times herself.  I felt since she wasn’t the stereotypical church person, she would be the one I could confide in.  Moments after I hung up the phone from talking to her, she called the pastor and told him everything I had said.

When I told Pastor Wade of my counselor’s advice to divorce Bob, he was not happy.  He said she wasn’t a Christian counselor and thought I should find a different one.  That wasn’t an option for me.  I felt freedom and hope just at the thought of getting out of the marriage and there was no going back.  Dr. Kathy Foster had not only understood me, but affirmed me and gave me hope.  I asked the pastor whether or not he would be able to support me through the divorce.  He was very vague in his answer, but he wanted me to continue as worship leader.

In the next couple of weeks, I began the process of separating from Bob.  I couldn’t afford to keep the apartment we were in, so I began packing up to move all Kory's and my things into a storage building.  I planned to stay with friends until I could get on my feet and get us a place of our own.  This was a very stressful time for me and I felt very alone.  I was not only going through a third divorce, but also financial uncertainty.

On Wednesday night at church, Pastor Wade told me the church board wanted to meet with me the following Friday morning.  They wanted to discuss my reasons for getting divorced and determine if they would allow me to continue my position as the church worship leader.  I was planning to move out of my apartment the next day, Saturday, at which time my son and I would basically be homeless.  It wasn’t a great time for such a meeting, but I wanted to continue my job as worship leader if at all possibly, so I agreed.

I felt uneasy about the church board meeting and I had typed up a letter summarizing my years with Bob and why I felt I could no longer stay in the marriage.  I also mailed a copy of the letter to my parents because I couldn’t bear the shame of telling them in person that I was getting divorced again.  The church board consisted of four men.  I asked another woman, Debbie Oliver, who sang with me on the worship team to attend the meeting just so I wouldn’t be the only female in the room.

Friday morning, I walked into the pastor’s office with my letter in my hand.  The six men, wearing suits and ties, were all sitting in a half circle with fake Christian smiles on their faces.  They greeted me and offered me a donut and a cup of coffee, to which I declined. I was in the process of packing up to move, so I arrived with no makeup on and dressed for a day of working at home.  My friend and supposed support person, Debbie, had not yet arrived.  My pastor began the meeting by asking me to chronicle my personal life with Bob and give my reasons for wanting out of the marriage.  I sobbed as I told my story and answered his questions.  As I cried and sat in that chair being judged by those six men, I felt emotionally naked and vulnerable.  Just when I thought it was over, an African man named Brainwave stood up and began pointing his finger at me.  His voice was loud and accusatory.  He began asking me more questions while throwing in his personal opinions of people who are divorced, specifically women who divorce their husbands.  He kept yelling “can you submit?”  This continued on for a few minutes, then I was allowed to leave.  My insides were completely torn up.

After the meeting, one of the men came up to me and told me to please let him or his wife, Phyllis, know if they could help me in any way.  I thanked him.  I didn’t understand why he or anyone else in the room did nothing to help or support me.  Debbie showed up late, but never said a word.  Brainwave is from a totally different culture than American.  As far as I know, women are abused in his culture.  Why was he given so much power in that room?

The next morning the pastor brought a group of teenage boys from the church to help us move.  My son, Joel, drove up from Tyler, Texas to help as well.  We moved all our belongings into the storage building, then came back to spend the night in a virtually empty apartment.  I woke up in the early morning hours just physically and emotionally spent.  Even though I had passed the test with the church board, I just had nothing left to give.  I woke my preacher dad in the middle of the night to tell him about what was going on and to ask his advice.  He said he felt the pastor was out of line with his interrogation meeting and it would be okay for me to take some time off from my church ministry to get through this difficult time.  I immediately went to my computer and typed up a letter of resignation.

I got to church Sunday morning and waited until Pastor Wade had left his office to slip my letter on his desk.  I led the worship service as usual, only I cried through the whole thing.  I’m sure the church people just thought I was deeply moved by the Holy Spirit.  As soon as I finished my duties at the piano, I went to the car to wait for Kory and Joel, hoping the pastor would read my letter after I had gone.  No such luck.  As I sat waiting in my car, the pastor came up to my window and questioned me about my resignation.  He asked me why I hadn’t resigned before he had helped me move.  I told him I was hurt by Brainwave at the church board meeting.  He said, “Why?  He had every right to ask what he asked and you answered appropriately.”

I asked him, “when will it be your turn to answer questions about your personal life?”

He said, “that’s part of being a church leader.”

I told him, “then I’m done with being a church leader.”

The next day, I called my sister to come and help me load up my piano with her truck and take it to the storage building I had rented.  Kory continued going to the church youth group for a while so I had to go back to the church to drop him off and pick him up.  Also, the couple Kory and I moved in with continued going to Living Water Church.  They told me the church never acknowledged that I had left or said anything about me.  They just had someone else take my place.

As I vomited up that old memory of abuse by church leaders, it brought up feelings of hurt and rage.  It seems like a huge hurdle to think about forgiving those ignorant people so I can heal and move on from it.  I'm hoping after I completely deal with the injustice of the whole thing, I will be able to thank them all.  This is the event that finally broke the camels back.  The hurt of staying was worse than the uncertainty of leaving.  Even though I had no job and no home, the pain of staying was worse.

The woman I am today, post-church, would never allow herself to be mistreated like the church woman I used to be.  This woman is not vulnerable and refuses to be a part of any group or system that treats people like they are "less than" for any reason.  I love the new freedom and life I have found since this horrendous event.

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So happy that you got away from the cult. :)

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Glad you found your way out MrsPearl. Church is one of the strongholds of male dominion/oppression throughout the world. So. Much. Abuse. And all done in the name of Jesus, which makes it worse for those that think he's real.

And as you discovered, there are women who are complicit with that abuse. Some of them look for kudos from the dominant males, others just like to participate in abuse because it makes them feel powerful (like the men).

The men think they are led by "the Spirit" to do stupid shit to people, and I saw nice women reduced to shaking tears by accusations of homosexuality and more (a big deal to fundies), accusations that were untrue. But the men never apologized, they just assumed they were right because of their position. Religion is a disgusting tribal relic, a mere cult that claims to represent "love". Some of us here hope to help inoculate the public by exposing the church mindset.

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Glad you got out. And welcome to the site.

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Best wishes for healing. I have found that this doesn’t come from churches or Christian therapists. It’s a hard road but you are worth it. 

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6 hours ago, mrspearl said:

This woman is not vulnerable and refuses to be a part of any group or system that treats people like they are "less than" for any reason. 

 

Full confidence in yourself.  Empathy for others.  And Intelligence.

 

You have all you need to fully live the rest of your singular life to its best.  It is going to be awesome.

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19 hours ago, mrspearl said:

The woman I am today, post-church, would never allow herself to be mistreated like the church woman I used to be.  This woman is not vulnerable and refuses to be a part of any group or system that treats people like they are "less than" for any reason.  I love the new freedom and life I have found since this horrendous event. 

 

This! This makes me so happy -- for you, and for any girl or woman who'll read this and need to hear this to be able to make it out of their very own versions of male dominated cults. We can all do this. We're not less, we're not to be dominated by anyone, and above all, there' s absolutely no need to "submit"!

 

Thank you so much for telling part of your story, mrspearl. Also, your writing is beautiful and powerful.

 

How did your journey out continue? How did you rebuild your life?

 

I have a friend who got a divorce and left the church, too, and  nearly nobody ever asked or talked about her anymore. We're still close 17 years later and she's strong like a rock. We're now laughing about the craziness and the ridiculousness of it all. And I sometimes feel sorry for all those who never left and stil think they know it all.

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Damn. Thank you for sharing that story with us. It's completely out of line for them to interrogate you like that - church leader or not.

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Thanks so much for all the kind words.  It means a lot to me.  Offtheromanroad, I am doing fantastic.  I'm a totally different person than I was when this event happened.  The further I get from religion, the healthier and happier I become.  I was able to move out of Texas to Illinois which has helped a lot.  Somehow I stumbled upon Mrs. Winell's book, Leaving the Fold, and it helped me realize the depth of the trauma I experienced.  I'm currently working with a therapist, as well as reading and journaling to continue my recovery.  My parents are still very religious and, just in normal conversation, use so many religious phrases that trigger me.  I am currently working on dealing with that.  They are elderly and aren't changing, so I'm trying to find a nice balance of communication so I'm not agitated just talking to them.

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Welcome to ExC. your better off now. 

 

DB

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19 hours ago, mrspearl said:

Thanks so much for all the kind words.  It means a lot to me.  Offtheromanroad, I am doing fantastic.  I'm a totally different person than I was when this event happened.  The further I get from religion, the healthier and happier I become.  I was able to move out of Texas to Illinois which has helped a lot.  Somehow I stumbled upon Mrs. Winell's book, Leaving the Fold, and it helped me realize the depth of the trauma I experienced.  I'm currently working with a therapist, as well as reading and journaling to continue my recovery.  My parents are still very religious and, just in normal conversation, use so many religious phrases that trigger me.  I am currently working on dealing with that.  They are elderly and aren't changing, so I'm trying to find a nice balance of communication so I'm not agitated just talking to them.

Thanks for answering. Seems like you are thriving and working on things that have remained difficult, which is a great approach.

If I may ask, what branch of the "fold" do your parents adhere to?

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You're an inspiration mrspearl! You should be very proud of yourself. You have handled your bad situation perfectly! Is't it noteworthy how turning down that $300 a week that you needed so desperately at the time paid you such such huge dividends in terms of your selfrespect and resolve to succeed on your own. It's so good to hear how well you're doing. Glad to have you here with us and hopefully being part of our community will facilitate your continuing recovery. Thank you for participating on our site which I'm sure offers hope to others who find themselves in difficult situations.

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7 hours ago, offtheromanroad said:

f I may ask, what branch of the "fold" do your parents adhere to?

My parents are still in the assemblies of god.  It is charismatic/Pentecostal.

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It takes a really strong person to overcome what you have, @mrspearl!

 

The propensity for those at the top of the churcy food chain to be self-serving pricks makes it quite clear why religions were invented in the first place. 

 

On 2/1/2019 at 1:26 PM, mrspearl said:

an African man named Brainwave

...

On 2/1/2019 at 1:26 PM, mrspearl said:

kept yelling “can you submit?”

 

Unbefreaknlievalbe!

 

This is what happens when you take tiny little men and make them think they actually are something because of an invisible sky daddy. 

 

"Wile E. Coyote , Super Genius!" :jerkit:

 

 

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I reckon I had better clarify my last post - sighting all the beatings being administered over the black-face thing.

 

When I said "tiny little men" I meant those whose only claim to anything was their association with Jebus - NOT a racial reference. 

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5 hours ago, mrspearl said:

My parents are still in the assemblies of god.  It is charismatic/Pentecostal.

 

Is this any relation to the church of god of the union assembly/ or gospel assembly? 

 

I was was an ordained bishop in The church of God of the gospel assembly. 

 

DB

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12 hours ago, DarkBishop said:

 

Is this any relation to the church of god of the union assembly/ or gospel assembly? 

 

I was was an ordained bishop in The church of God of the gospel assembly

 

DB

 

There is a church of god that is similar.  It would compare to United Pentecostal, full gospel, or charismatic.  They speak in tongues and have very strict rules regarding people’s personal life choices.  

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20 hours ago, mrspearl said:

My parents are still in the assemblies of god.  It is charismatic/Pentecostal.

 

Well I guess you'd hope they'd only speak in tongues to you when it comes to Je-sus so you wouldn't understand what they are saying... 😉

 

On a more serious note: It must be so difficult to communicate with them, ignoring or dealing with all the Bible/"spiritual" talk they throw your way.

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1 hour ago, mrspearl said:

 

There is a church of god that is similar.  It would compare to United Pentecostal, full gospel, or charismatic.  They speak in tongues and have very strict rules regarding people’s personal life choices.  

Sounds a lot like my old church.

 

DB

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On a more serious note: It must be so difficult to communicate with them, ignoring or dealing with all the Bible/"spiritual" talk they throw your way.

 

Yes, it really is.  They’re more subtle about it than in my face, which helps somewhat. I’m working on those churchy phrases being just words I can ignore rather than triggers that bring up hurt and anger.  My folks are old and dealing with health issues, so I don’t want to put anything else on them, such as telling them I have totally left their faith.  They would be broken-hearted.  That’s why getting support from this group is so important to me.❤️

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It’s hard to balance other people’s needs for the church’s support against what we need during  De-conversion. So glad you’ve found a helpful therapist! That was key for me. Best wishes. 

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Welcome Mrs.Pearl! 

 

Typical assholes, the whole lot. Pastor not withstanding. At least you figured it out. It's one of those things that people have to figure out on their own. I've been watching a lot of Star Wars fan vids on youtube recently concerning episode 9, and fan theories. And they keep using the term, "canon." Such and such would make good sense for the next film because it's, "canon." 

 

And that's really it. That's a contemporary, real time example of how a complete fiction can become "canon," with what are considered "non-canon" little spin off's. The bible is Star Wars, the "canons," are the same. These assholes in church administrative counsels are nothing more than the equivalent of Stars Wars fans, where, they own or rent a facility, appoint leadership roles within the fan group, and use transcription of a fiction to dictate life to the fan club. All the arguments amount to the same thing as arguing about Stars Wars. What is a proper interpretation of a complete fiction. With some of the biggest assholes within the fan club at it's helm. 

 

On 2/1/2019 at 4:26 PM, mrspearl said:

Just when I thought it was over, an African man named Brainwave stood up and began pointing his finger at me. 

 

Third world church members tend to be some of the most legalistic, I've found. As well as misogynistic. But seriously, "brainwave?" I can only imagine. At least you realized what BS the whole thing actually is and got out. Good on you. 

 

 

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