David, a blog reader, has been having dialogue with me and others in the comments section on previous posts and I wanted to highlight some of his comments and address them publicly. We were discussing his thoughts that focusing on my personal stories shows a lack of forgiveness. I asked David what forgiveness looks like and what he sees in me that shows lack of forgiveness. I recopied his post and left off some sentences in order to try to condense a bit, but the main idea is here:
This is tough because I find that you are courageous and true to your convictions.
The length of time, this has been going on gives me the impression that there is an indefinite time frame before any ending resolution is possible for you and your former Pastor.
I think, when the focus of your Blog alters away from the negatives you experienced from your former Pastor and Grace Bible Church, healing will take place. I seems like things are getting too personal for healing to take place.
Even though I can see you have a nice smile, how is it possible for you to experience real joy as long as this blog keeps the memory of the pain you have gone through alive?
My Pastor is out of my life but in your case your former Pastor is still very much in yours.
For me I had to stop venting and replaying the things my Pastor did to me and our church. When that finally happened I went from two hours sleep a night to 7 hours a night.
I sense that you feel like you have been targeted when you attempted to understand where your Pastor was coming from. My Pastor used the word “Truth” and nothing else in describing his theology.
I can’t imagine the pain you have gone through, but I do know the pain I went through and the burden of Un-Forgiveness was even harder for me to bear.
I have to be careful even now, because it isn’t doing me any good thinking about the past.
What we all don’t want to see happen is for Letterman and Maher to joke about 2 people who profess the Gospel attacking each other.
This should motivate Pastor Chuck to seek a truce and pull his Lawsuit if you agree to withdraw his Name and Grace Bible from your Blog.
Find comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit is deeply working on your former Pastor.
I think you blog has greater things to focus on than your former Pastor.
Hi David: Thank you for your response. I’m glad I asked you those question because I think you are missing the point and perhaps have misunderstood the purpose of this blog. The purpose is not to go on and on about the abuse, but to mention it in personal stories in order to clearly identify it so that those who were involved can see it plainly for themselves. I try to also include what a healthy church looks like and provide scriptures to back up my conclusions and beliefs. (Keep in mind that when beginning this blog, I was fully aware that others might stumble across it via Google searches, etc. This is how I learned so much about spiritual abuse – by reading the personal accounts of others on other church survivor sites like mine.)I vented the first year or so after leaving. I am not holding a grudge and don’t feel that I’m bitter. It didn’t bother me in the least to sit less than 2 feet away from the pastor yesterday for 2 hours in the courthouse. I hoped that he would look my direction so that I could acknowledge his presence as any decent human being would, but that did not happen.
I am angry about what spiritual abuse does to people. I am angry about the long-lasting effects I have seen. And now, after this media attention, the resolve in me is even stronger to expose this dirty secret after receiving so many stories in my in box and in the comments section of this blog. People are so hurt and scarred and want to move on, but some are stuck. Some entirely walk away from church . . . . . . forever. Let’s try it this way. Our church thought we had the best methods of evangelism and went out weekly, door-to-door, all throughout the towns spreading the gospel. Meanwhile, people were emotionally and spiritually abandoned within the church. What utter hypocrisy. Do we sit and do nothing? Really?
I pray for Chuck and his family and the church. I care for all of them. I was part of that church family for two years and I am doing this because I love them just as family/friends would gather around to confront an alcoholic and tell him/her: there is a problem, you need help, I will help and support you, but you first need to see the truth about what you are doing to yourself and others. This is true love that speaks the truth, even when it hurts.
I think they are blinded. They seem to have set themselves up on a pedestal in the false belief that they are better than so many other churches and this prevents them from hearing common sense from even reputable religious leaders they respect, such as Phil Johnson, who urged him to drop the lawsuit. Several pastors have privately e-mailed me telling me they have sent Chuck an e-mail urging him to drop the lawsuit as well. Why won’t he listen to godly men? He has shown no willingness on his part to resolve this. He doesn’t care about Letterman or Maher joking, he would probably call that joking as being persecuted for Christ’s sake. His pattern in the past would be that the only way this will be resolved is if I publicly apologize for everything I have posted and come humbly back to him.Let me be clear, David. I will not apologize for exposing the truth. I will not abandon those for whom I am standing. This has become much bigger than I ever intended. Now I represent a voice for many more than ever before. Many others through the connections of the internet and media have discovered my blog and have also identified with the stories told here. I feel honored to stand strong for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are too weak to defend themselves (and I so appreciate the many, many people behind the scenes who give me strength and continue to pray for me, because I do have moments of weakness).
This is not about the relationship between Chuck O’Neal and me (although I would welcome restoration of our relationship). This is about spiritual abuse in the church which must be exposed. This is about telling people that Christ is not represented by pastors who use their position to manipulate and control others and their personal lives. I repeat what I have said over and over again – – – there are souls at stake!
“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.” Mark 9:42
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