Popular Post mrspearl Posted February 1, 2019 Popular Post Share Posted February 1, 2019 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. 8 3 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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