April 7, 2007

Shattered Glass

Worthington SDA Church
Women's Ministry

The following quote is taken from:

http://www.worthingtonsda.com/

  • Our mision (sic) ...To nurture women as an affirming influence for Christian growth and as a result, positively affect the people in their lives.
  • Our vision... A haven where every woman feels that she belongs. A place to be empowered spiritually, socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually.
  • Our plan... Foster relationships with women through small groups, open events, with emphasis on recruitment and follow-up.

I just returned from a worship service at the Worthington SDA Church near Columbus, Ohio where I had been expecting some action on my request to have my membership transferred from the Berrien Springs, MI SDA (PMC) Church to Worthington.

* Red = Added after the first posting...Some very special family members have questioned and will question why I feel the need to attend church. They don’t think that I need religion, and they are right! I believe that for most, if you haven’t already found Your God, you won’t find IT within four walls. I want to be accepted by a unity of people where I can give back joy and peace. Where I can enjoy the socialization of a group of people who want to offer a safe harbor. Enough said.

About 10 days ago I got a call from the senior pastor of the Worthington Church asking if I was still interested in becoming a member….

“Why?” I asked. “Was there any question about my written request?”

“Well, I haven’t read your blog, but some of my church-members thought that you didn’t want to be a member after they read your blog.”

I should have suspected treason right there. The pastor hadn’t read my blogsite, but took the time to call and ask the question. We talked for 31 minutes (according to the timer on my cell phone) and when we hung up I thought he had an understanding of what the story on my site http://dustyangels.blogspot.com/ was all about.

This is where I post my personal ideas about life. Like the private diaries I've kept for my whole life. But now I share with the world. My book, "Dusty Angels and Old Diaries" chronicles the first 50 years of my life.

Right about now, my sister Sandra, who had SDA force fed and hammered into her with firewood and brimstone, will drop right down the comment section with a rebuke that will clear up any misunderstanding on anyone’s part. That will precede a scalding reprimand to me for any notion that religion and church are at all related, and she will suggest that my darkening the doorway of an SDA church again is grounds for putting me away at the funny farm.

Many who read my story, “I Went Back” thought I was being harsh with the Worthington SDA church as I wrote to compare the difference between how I was RAISED a SDA and how it is now with all the rules eliminated or completely changed.

The comments on my blogsite seemed to have forced a confrontation between the pastor and some (or at least one very effective church member), who took it upon themselves to decide that I didn’t want my membership there - or was it really the other way around?

It could have been ANY SDA Church I wrote about, but because I mentioned Worthington SDA church by name, several members from that church wrote comments after the story to complain about my comments
- or to defend their loving membership and welcome me into the congregation.

In my story, I compared how the SDA services and church rules have been livened and lightened up over the years. The former strict dress code is non-existent. Strict diet rules eliminated. Admittedly, I was harsh on the senior pastor who seemed sincere and quite proud of his diverse church membership. But in a second story, I explained I meant nothing personal, and I complimented several things I do like about the church.

So, after I submitted a simple written request for my membership to be transferred from the Berrien Springs SDA (Michigan) Church to this church, I wondered how that request would be handled.

Then came the call from the pastor confirming I still wanted admittance into his church.

“We pride ourselves on welcoming anybody who wants to attend….We even welcome gays and drug addicts…. We’d rather have them here than on the streets”, the senior pastor explained. And, I assured him that would not bother me to see those kind of people in church.

But it seems a condition of my acceptance into church membership is that I ‘apologize’ to certain members who took offence to my stories on the website.

“I’ll introduce you to a couple members after you are accepted. You can talk to them.”

We had agreed that my name would be in the bulletin and voted for consideration today. While the church board may vote me in, the church membership has a first and second reading, and votes as a whole on names being accepted for membership and transfer. The second reading was scheduled for today as I assured the pastor that my work schedule would permit me to attend church today.

So, even though snowsqualls roared across the city on this Easter weekend, I gulped down an extra dose of cough syrup and kissed Jim good-bye. "I'm getting adopted today, I said.

I could be wrong here, but I got the feeling I was expected to make peace with those members who took offence to my "I Went Back" story. But I’m soft. I’m gullible.

I won’t tell Jim I had to say I'm sorry, I said to myself..

I walked in just in time to see the, “incoming” and “outgoing” names listed on the large movie screen at the front of the church.

My name was not listed. It was not in the bulletin that i held in my hand either.

Tears banged against my eyelids as I realized that I had been rejected. Shattered glass exploded in my head.

I held my breath as the senior pastor welcomed the new members and asked if any new members were in the congregation. The list was moved and accepted. Not until the man left the platform did I conclude that I had really been overlooked and perhaps betrayed.

After a stunned moment to collect myself, I got up and following the pastor out into the foyer, I introduced myself and asked why I was not on the incoming list.

“I forgot.”

I FORGOT.

"YOU FORGOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????????????"

Realizing that answer was not going to suffice, he offered that his secretary was on vacation. “To the Grand Canyon”, he boasted as if the Grand Canyon was excuse enough to forget that some old lady who wrote scathing stories about his church and his sermons wanted to become a member.

When that answer didn’t back me off, he suggested that maybe he could get my name up there today. “Maybe it’s not too late to do it now.” And then he politely ushered me back into the sanctuary where the choir’s soothing music precluded soft prayer and the children’s story.

But, was he bluffing or lying or both? I believe that he has no intention to satisfy my request today or any day.


Yep, the beckoning bonfire recommended by my born-again pagan (BAP) husband roars loudly in the background, and the pastor’s handshake feels like a lump of coal in my hand and in my heart.

My husband comments over the edge of the newspaper, “The open-arms policy seems to have their hands tied behind their back”.

Going back was hard enough. Going back again is stupid on my part.

If my name is up for adoption in two weeks, someone reading this please tell them to take it off. If Kevin or Dr. Jones or Bonnie feel badly, so be it. No one feels more badly than I do. I had a dream of being a part of a group of people who share my faith and exchange gifts of acceptance and love. I had great expectations. It’s Shattered Glass now!

Please don't write to offer excuses. Anytime someone says, "I forgot", there's always more behind the "I forgot" then they are saying. I'm not going back to find out what that is. I need to read my own book again!

My book, "Dusty Angels and Old Diaries" tells about the power of forgiveness and urges women to be strong. That includes learning how to take care of yourself and not go back for more hurt and rejection. It includes finding the power to forgive yourself and move on!

Last week, an old roommate from Laurelbrook School near Dayton, Tennessee called me on my cell phone right out of the blue. I was at work and couldn’t talk long, but she invited me for a girls-only weekend to enjoy the lovely forests, waterfalls and camping in the Tennessee Mountains. Her comment, “I’ve gone back to the church” has left me slightly baffled. I hope to understand her position better when we can talk.

*By the way, if you click the worthington sda link, then click the survey posted there, don't be shocked! After complaining about my website, they post questions like this for anyone to read? http://www.worthingtonsda.com The survey points one in a rather odd direction, and non-members (like BAP) are shaking their heads in wonder. If they need a survey done about what members believe these days, they could direct them to my website. I'll bet that survey comes down real fast.

Yes, I went back to church too. But, I’m not bragging about it. I’m running the other way as fast as I can.

Sunrise Services in a Gopher-hole, anyone?

Feel free to leave me a comment before you leave. (Click the word 'comment' below and another window will pop up. )

Take Care on the Journey,
~Linda
(A very heavy-hearted Linda)

11 comments:

Bringer of Peace said...

Can you accept a big, long, loving hug over the internet? If so, please accept 5 of them from me.
You may need to get a kleenex to wipe the tears off your shoulders. Hope that doesn't make you feel worse, though.
love you!

The Cat's Meow said...

You know theres alot I could say but for tonite I've just got to say;
KEEP OUT of church !!!!!
Like I always told Bobby
"To me your he bestist person in the world, but to other people your just shit"
goes to show I was right agin!!!!
I'll always love ya

Linda M. said...

Five hugs accepted - with love!

Linda M. said...

To Sandra - my little sister - 'the cat's meow'.

I knew you wouldn't be far behind my posting!

"To other poeple we are just a piece of shit."

I've heard you say that many times.

It has felt that way most of our life, hasn't it?

I've always hoped that it wasn't so!

Love you too,
Linda

Bringer of Peace said...

Now take 7 hugs - I no longer think that 5 are enough :)

Family doesn't always mean within walking distance.

Glad your sis loves you so much too.

Anonymous said...

The Sisterhood of the Stars has heard your devotional request to gather with and commune through like minds to reach forth and touch the spiritual nature of the ALL. You are welcomed into our world ranks of Sisters. Let us all touch the spirit of grace for
All mankind. Let us all extend the blessings of peace and grant nourishment upon the path of life’s journey. You are hereby ordained into the Sisterhood of the Stars within the Order of Sunshine. Cast your spirit of your sunshine upon all those who shall open themselves to the voice of your spiritual wisdom. Annual global meetings are held on
the Isle of Man on the Summer Solaces. Annual dues are a glass-of-tide or one dozen cookies. Peace be with the seeker’s of Nature. ~ BAP

Clay Feet said...

After thinking I may need some anti-acid for the sick feeling in my stomach, I can only wonder at how often and how easily church people can blast the reputation of the God they claim to follow. This is certainly not the first time I have seen something like this happen and I am quite sure not the last time. But the best news is that the truth about God is not dependent on the horrible reflection in the lives of those who insist on using His name. And I'm afraid I'm not always immune to being one of those myself.
One thing is quite certain though - you are not a piece of shit, no matter if you are made to feel that way at times. You are very important to a lot more people than you could ever imagine. And the real truth still is that in God's eyes and heart you are irreplaceable and VIP. We love you too.

Anonymous said...

Salvation does not come via the "church", via Bible study; it come from God. Returning to this "church", and being the most loving, kind person, would be burning arrow through the heart of your distractors.

Anonymous said...

...oops - via the "church" OR via Bible study, etc. It come from God...

Anonymous said...

Dear Linda, After reading your experience, I thought of a true incident that might give you encouragement.

Here is the story:

STARCHED COLLARS AND SALVATION
(Adapted from James White, Life Incidents (1868) pp. 112-117

During June 1844, 22-year-old James White attended an Adventist conference in Poland, Maine, where about 40 believers were meeting. The weather was hot, and White’s clothes had become soiled from travel.

An astonished James heard a certain Elder H pray, “O Lord, have mercy on Brother White. He is proud, and will be damned unless he gets rid of his pride. Have mercy upon him, O Lord, and save him from pride . . . Break him down, Lord, and make him humble. Have mercy upon him. Have mercy.” The prayer continued for quite some time.

When Elder H finally finished, all sat in stunned silence. White finally said, “Brother H, I fear you have told the Lord a wrong story. You say I am proud. This, I think, is not true. But why tell this to the Lord? . . . Now, sir, if I am proud, . . . you can tell before these present in what II am proud. Is it my general appearance, or my manner of speaking, praying, or singing? . . . Please look me over. Is it my patched boots? My rusty coat? This nearly worn-out vest? These soiled pants? Or that old hat I wear?”

Elder H assured White it was none of those things. Rather, he said that Brother White’s symbol of pride was the starched linen collar he was wearing. White quickly explained that his own shirt was dirty, and a good sister had offered to wash it for him. In the meantime, she had lent him one of her husband’s shirts that had a starched linen collar. In fact, White didn’t own a shirt with a starched collar.

Whereupon Elder H again dropped to his knees and prayed, “O Lord, I have prayed for Brother White, and he is displeased with me for it. Have mercy on him! Have mercy!’

This was White’s first experience with fanatics. Writing about this incident years later, he commented, “To see a coarse, hardhearted man possessing in his very nature little more tenderness than a crocodile, and hypocritical tears for effect is enough to stir the mirthfulness of the gravest saint.”

--2 Cor. 10:12, NIV: “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”

I am so sorry you that had this negative experience. Please know that what matters is God loves YOU yesterday, today, and forever, and he would have died for you even if you were the only one He could save. Look at how he brought you through all the years since your babyhood abandonment!

Cling to your faith in Jesus, with or without a church and I pray that someday we will meet at the Savior's feet to share eternity.

Dorothy

Juanita said...

I am so sorry that you had to go through such a soul shattering experience; I myself have said that neither church nor religion in general could heal my scared heart.

I am alittle bewildered that after your previous experiences with the SDA church how you still had the great expectiations of acceptance and love. Not all christians are judgemental, but I find most are, most preach what they think the bible says, but they do not live it, they preach it. If more chose to just live their life in a bibical way they would attract people to christian ways like “flys to honey” . I know you realize that you must think exactly as they do or you have the “wrong” faith, and I can not believe you share the same “faith”. I have said to you before that I find no comfort in exposing myself to the church. I find myself feeling angry, hurt and bitter when I have any association with the church.

The HYPOCRISY is overwhelming!!!!!!

I think we can find our souls solace in Nature and that is where I am turning for my spiritual resolve. I hope you can too.